The ad campaign goes by the name “Wii U Stories” and features three families being invited to Nintendo of America’s headquarters to try out their latest system. Each commercial last only half a minute, but shows a family having a good time and saying encouraging words about the Wii U, while the tiny text at the bottom mention these “Actual Wii U owners” were compensated for their role. While the intention for the new Wii U commercials is to sweet talk families into purchasing one, they represent the way Nintendo has mishandled the system’s marketing since launch.
For starters, the heavy focus on families suggests the Wii U is aimed only for a younger crowd. While it’s true Nintendo’s greatest audience are kids and should be allowed to play to their strengths, the Wii U was supposedly conceived to win back the older “hardcore” audience they lost with the Wii. However, there’s no Wii U ads that target the older demographic. Instead, there are only Wii U commercials consisting of kids playing in cubicles to dubstep and the latest where they play with their parents. It’s a very perplexing move considering Nintendo could be advertising their deluxe Wii U bundle of “ZombiU”.
Speaking of games, the ones displayed in the ads are disappointingly few. The short time frame definitely played a factor in it, but when three Wii U commercials keep going back to the same two games, it demonstrates a missed opportunity to promote others. The current Wii U software lineup may be dry, but there are certainly more games on the system than “New Super Mario Bros. U” and “Nintendo Land”. It’s probably too much expecting kids to play a demanding game like “Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate”, but an all-age game like “Lego City” certainly deserved more exposure than what it got.
The most troubling part about the new Wii U ads, however, is that it’s not advertising against current consoles like the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, but Nintendo’s last console: the Wii. With the tagline telling families to upgrade to a Wii U and the participating folks offering praises in comparison to the Wii, these commercials come across as Nintendo competing against themselves. Nintendo has desperately tried to make the distinctions between the Wii and Wii U systems clear since day one, with their comparison flyer that laughably shortchanged the previous console as an example. The new Wii U ads not only fails to make the distinctions between the Wii clearer, but repeat past mistakes like focusing on the tablet to where it looks like a peripheral, showcasing games with little superiority in graphics, and offering no solid message on what’s the new system is all about.
These new Wii U ads don’t spell doom for Nintendo. At the very least, it’s good to see the Wii U marketing campaign start up again. However, they won’t resolve the sluggish Wii U sales the console has experienced since January of this year. And with the Playstation 4 and Next Xbox scheduled for this year, Nintendo's time to find the right message that conveys the Wii U's potential is running out.