How Nintendo perfected Promotional Marketing

How Nintendo perfected Promotional MarketingNintendo is now one of the world’s biggest digital entertainment brands, and despite exclusively targeting the video games sector, is capable of battling toe-to-toe with rival technological juggernauts. While Microsoft and Sony can call upon revenue from home computing, home viewing and other domestic technologies Nintendo has had to become a serial innovator in order to keep pace, and on more than one occasion it has called upon promotional marketing to more effectively do so…

Mario the pioneer

Nintendo’s first global marketing success was with the Mario franchise. The loveable Italian plumber first appeared in a video game way back in 1981 with a cameo in the Donkey Kong title, but after Mario was given his own game in 1985 Nintendo never looked back. In the late ‘80s, through the ‘90s and even beyond video games were seen as a niche interest with little mass appeal, and yet Mario has still managed to sell more than 400 million games in a legacy spanning four decades.

The marketing bods at Nintendo were aware right from the off that they had a hit on their hands with the affable Mario, and it was clear that the character could be spun into a lucrative revenue generator beyond merely his video game incarnation. It didn’t take long for promotional merchandise and other spin-offs to build on Mario’s video game success. By 1993 Mario had his own TV show and a Hollywood film, while an enormous range of branded Mario merchandise went on sale at around the same time.

Now, fans of the franchise can buy Mario mugs, caps, alarm clocks, toys, games and any other kind of promotional merchandise and clothing you care to mention – there’s even a website dedicated exclusively to Mario merch!

Pokémon follows suit

The people at Nintendo weren’t content with one global marketing phenomenon, however, and hot on Mario’s tail came Pokémon. Pokémon became Nintendo’s second runaway success story in the space of a decade, after Satoshi Tajiri’s monster battling, collecting and trading RPG for the Nintendo Game Boy hit the shelves in 1996. The game was incredibly simplistic and inherently addictive, so Nintendo quickly became aware that they had another hit on their hands and began to market Pokémon using the Mario template.

If anything Pokémon’s marketing campaign was even more aggressive and all-encompassing than Mario’s, and in a short space of time Nintendo had released hugely profitable Pokémon trading cards, a Pokémon TV series and numerous Pokémon films. Of course the promotional merchandise wasn’t far behind these ventures, with action figures, cuddly toys, posters, bedspreads and myriad other promotional items giving the company yet another lucrative revenue stream.

Nintendo’s promotional model is a cyclical process, bringing new fans in from a variety of different sources. Fans of the Pokémon TV series may be incited to buy a copy of the video game, while those who were introduced to the franchise by the games themselves might then develop a taste for the trading cards. This process has helped Nintendo to produce the two bestselling games franchises of all time, despite competition from rivals with far greater funds.

If you’d like to capture some of the marketing success enjoyed by brands like Nintendo, take a look at the Stay Sourced website, or make use of their bespoke service for some really unique marketing opportunities.

Editorial Team
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