Nintendo took a new tack when it launched its Wii console in 2006, moving its image from the stereotypical male gamer to embed itself as a part of modern family life. It made a conscious decision to broaden its audience by focusing on home life as a whole.
Arguably, the growth of the Wii sub-brand has achieved this, from its campaign to find ’Britain’s brainiest family’ in 2007 to reviving the board game via its electronic platform.
The launch of Wii Fit in 2007 further promoted the brand as one that encourages users to be social and active, rather than stuck on the sofa playing video games, as Nintendo UK marketing manager Rob Lowe explains.
“About five years ago we were getting beaten quite soundly by PlayStation, which successfully went after a 16- to 34-year-old male audience. Since then we have left PlayStation and to an extent Xbox to go after that male audience because there is a much bigger opportunity to appeal to everybody else. A family is at the very heart of that, including parents, grandparents and children of all ages,” Lowe says. The goal, he says, has been to take the anti-social stigma away from gaming, which will continue to be a priority.
“We had looked at the way that kids had gone to their bedrooms to play video games, and the family unit was not quite what it had been,” he says. “I’m not saying that we have brought families together as a whole, but we might have done a bit. It was very much about having Wii in the living room and kids playing it with their parents.” One in three UK households now has a Wii, Lowe claims.
The portable Nintendo DS has also appealed to an audience of non-traditional gamers, helped by using more mature celebrity brand ambassadors such as Terry Wogan, Helen Mirren and Patrick Stewart.
Nintendo is not alone. PC World in 2009 launched its ’Family World’ ads, featuring a dad looking for a laptop for his daughter to take to university, while Microsoft’s campaign for Windows 7 showed a mother using ’cloud’ technology to create an acceptable family photo from a series of botches.