Thumbwars: Quality launch of Nintendo’s gamble

WTF?!

People have talked and talked about third place winner Nintendo’s low-tech, high innovation gamble of a console, the Wii. So I am not going to bother with the thing itself – suffice to say it is interesting but I have not owned one of these things since wasting many years with a Sega Mega Drive (complete with expensive and crap CD-ROM attachment) and am not in the market for one but the launch has been impressive.

All coverage I have seen reflects what I presume are their key messages of populist playability, value for money, small form factor and innovation (some have criticised its circa 2001 AV abilities but no matter). One thing really stuck with me though – in today’s Metro and elsewhere I could not help but notice the employ of a real classic consumer PR tactic: The Fake Health Scare. From PlayStation thumb to PC rage, if you want the attention of the alarmist and health obsessed consumer pages come up with some kind of phantom injury or mental condition. If you have consumer field reports of this thing and some kind of rented medic to back it up then its even better. The giveaway that it was all part of the plan to those in the know was in the quote from the Nintendo spokesperson which was something to the effect of “if people are getting sore using this then it means they need more exercise” – repeating the ‘Wii is different and healthier’ message again. For a product launch this big the temptation would be to project Mario on Nelson’s column or something big and silly. Instead old reliable tactics seem to have done the trick…Respect is due, etc..

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