Wii Win! Nintendo Takes Grand Effie

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Last night in New York at the Effies the Grand Effie award went to Nintendo's "Wii Would Like to Play" campaign, launching the Wii console, from Leo Burnett.

Grand Effie contenders included five Gold winners, Anomaly's iPhone media ambush for Keep a Child Alive, the second round of BBDO, New York's Ecomagination work for GE, JWT's "Let it Out" campaign for Kleenex and Secret Weapon Marketing's "Sirloin vs. Angus" push for Jack in the Box. Full results can be found on a PDF at the Effies site.

We spoke with jury member and AKQA, New York co-creative director Lars Bastholm about the winners.

How were the final throes of the judging process? How did you pick the Grand Effie winner?
We sat down yesterday morning from 8am to 2pm and talked. It's a really fun judging process with the Effies because you get to read the intentions first, what the strategic reasoning was behind what they did and how they got there, then you see the work, then you see the results. So it's like a whole marketing course in one, if you will. The five entries that made it into the discussion were Gold winners, out of those we were charged with finding the winner.

In many ways they're so different because they come from different categories, so our challenge is to figure out what is really the best of the best and award that with the Grand Effie.

How does the measurability of digital marketing messages change the way you guys are judging shows like the Effies that place emphasis on results?
The only one of the campaigns entered, if I recall correctly, that had any sort of measurement around digital was the Keep a Child one; they spent essentially next to no money, they just had to feed a few guys over a few days while they were standing outside of the store, so that spend versus the amount of media they got on and offline and what that would cost to buy, nobody else really went into great detail about what digital media had done for the overall package.

That will probably change, no?
I think it probably will, so you can see more of a breakdown into various media channels. Some had humongous media budgets, some had small. So there's a little bit of an apples and orange comparison.

And what about in terms of accuracy—if a digital push's intentions are to corner the market in 18-24 year-old male eyeballs and afterwards they can show that with tangible metrics...
That would be fantastic; that's something that we should probably be pushing for in the future, where more and more of the campaigns and winners will be digitally focused; some of these had only small digital components so you're looking at the entire package of outlets versus just digital or print or TV.

In the case of the Wii, how can you distinguish between the strength of the product and the strength of the marketing? The argument could be made that without any major advertising the Wii would have been as successful.
It's funny you should ask that; it was a big discussion we had yesterday, exactly that. The argument could be made that the product sold itself, it was so strong. But what they did, from a marketing perspective, was took that truth, said All we need to do is wrap a product demonstration in few clever way; that's our campaign. We don't need to 'market' this; we just show what it does. That's exactly what the entire campaign's about. It was product demo; they had a lot of outdoor stunts where they basically put up a screen and a Wii in the streets and asked people to play. My favorite aspect of the campaign was that they did the Tupperware party route. They got alpha moms together for Wii parties to showcase that it's not just for the pimpled teenage boys in the back room, it's a social gaming machine that can tie the family together; it's something you could do for everybody. They went out to retirement homes as well, to show old people how to use the Wii. It's so easy to say the product sold itself, but I think the campaign was brilliant in that it realized that and didn't do anything to get in the way of allowing the product to sell itself. It was a really good discussion of product versus marketing and how you support a great product as opposed to trying to come up with a 'clever' way of marketing it.

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