Nintendo gives flight to wireless WaveBird

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Nintendo of America on June 17 unveils a TV campaign for its WaveBird wireless video-game controller, part of a huge effort that will boost total ad spending by 25%.

Nintendo's increase comes as the company plans multiple product launches over the course of its fiscal year that began April 1, including ad campaigns for "Super Mario Sunshine," set for Aug. 26 release; "Animal Crossing," Sept. 16; "Star Fox Adventures," Sept. 30; "Metroid Prime," Nov. 18; and "Legend of Zelda," due February 2003. A TV campaign referred to as a "Summer Library Campaign" starts this week to support games like "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" for the GameCube console and the hand-held GameBoy Advance. "With more software titles to support, it warrants increased spending across the board," said Rob Matthews, Nintendo's director-advertising and promotions.

Untethered

The quirky campaign for the WaveBird ($34.95), created by Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett, Chicago, features three 15-second spots flagging the wireless controller's ability to work untethered up to 20 feet away from the GameCube console.

One spot features a guy covered in chickenpox clutching a WaveBird outside the house and playing on the GameCube through the window. Three of his buddies are playing inside because they don't want to get near him. The copyline: "Nothing comes between a man and his game."

Another spot shows a kid transfixed on the TV while clutching a WaveBird underneath the dinner table. Ads will run in heavy rotation for five weeks on network, cable and syndication. Viacom's MTV, the Sci-Fi channel, Fox and the WB are all part of the buy targeting 12-to-17-year-olds. Print includes gaming magazines, The Source and TransWorld titles. Internet media includes streaming video, interstitials and large-format ads on cartoonnetwork.com, Yahoo!, and others.

Nintendo spent $83.5 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2001, and $7.6 million from January-February of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

WaveBird is another step in the process to make gaming a mass entertainment form. Nintendo has made strides with GameBoy Advance, a product that has attracted adults as well as kids. Earlier this year, Sony launched its own portable solution, a PlayStation one console and LCD screen that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighter to help occupy the kids during roadtrips. (For more on Nintendo, see AdAge.com QwikFIND aan53x).

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