Friday, September 22, 2006

Can Wii Talk?

Hi I'm Tracey and I'm a Nintendo Ambassador. (Grumble grumble. Hi Tracey. Grumble) Huh? I know. Pretty random. For those of you who don't know, I'll make a long story short here and say, Nintendo hosted what they called a Family Wiiunion for the Clark Family. I wrote about it here and here if you want the scoop. From what I can tell, everyone and then some have already read about it and if your growing bored of the subject, feel free to click elsewhere. I'd understand. However, I am not yet finished talking about it.

I'm a family photographer and a writer of motherhood books and blogs, and until now, had yet to see a flood of concentrated attention like what I've experienced of late. The irony? It's all come from gamers. Not mothers. Gamers. Who knew? I'll tell you who knew. Nintendo did.

When I agreed to hold an "Ambassador" title for Nintendo (which I tried to decline until my husband made me do it), I signed up to do nothing other than let them come into my home and throw my family and I a big shin-dig so that we could try out their new, not yet released gaming system, Wii. That's all. Of course they knew about my involvement in a vast motherhood community and my blog (that is how they found me, in case you wondered) and quickly discovered my innate ability to talk for days on end about things I am passionate about. I'm guessing they chose me because of these things. But, the point is that I am not under contract to say or do anything for them now that the Wiiunion has come and gone. No reviews, no blog posts, no plugging of their products. They knew that they we're going to provide for my family and myself a fantastic experience and that we (me and the 35 people that were here at the party) we're going to have so much fun, that we couldn't not talk about it! And that's exactly what happened. A good, no, a great experience. They were thinking way beyond the product here. They’ve accomplished encompassing a bigger picture and that, is smart business.

No sooner than I hit "publish post" (the day after the party) did I begin getting gamer traffic from a site called Infendo who, from what I can tell, were the first to find my photos and my post. I was like, "Oh, wow. Cool. Look at that." And then as it "made the front page of" as one gamer commented, I was like, "Holy *bleep*! I guess this is a bigger deal that I realized." As I have clicked around the gamer sites I have for the most part been impressed by how it's all been handled, how I have been represented. Within these stories I've been called a non-gamer, a photographer, a writer, a blogger, soccer-mom (although my kids don't pay soccer, I'm OK with the title), a "normal"- hmm, all of which are pretty accurate and quite respectful and I appreciate that. My favorite I think was "a pretty classy bird" which has a nice ring to it. Oh sure, here have been a few disturbing things said but I suppose that all comes with the territory.

From all of this, what has surprised me the most is the controversy over Nintendo's strategy to market to the mothers. How on earth this could be considered a bad move on any big business' part is beyond me. Anyone with half a business brain knows who does the much of the family decision making and, um, the shopping. Didn't we have a little feather ruffling discussion about this at BlogHer? Didn't we Mom-101? You got my back here girl? And from the staggering number of people who have read my Wii party post I can't imagine anyone could argue with it. Sure many of the readers were gamers but everyone's heard of the ripple effect. Nintendo knew exactly what they were doing. Smart move. Well done.

It's not rocket science when figure you crack the code that the average consumer wants an "experience", namely, a good experience of, about, or around either buying or considering the purchase of big ticket items. That goes for everything from games to homes. Realtors don't bake fresh chocolate chip cookies during a home's Open House for nothing. I mean I don't get the warm fuzzies when I buy "Snuggle" fabric softener but I'm sure that choosing a name like that was a smart marketing decision because although I don't get snuggly, somewhere in my breain, I might think I do. And when I heard about the Wii (Hello everyone, it's called Wii-sounds like WE- for a reason) and the idea that it's a system that families can enjoy together, I listened. And when Nintendo came and gave my family and I an unforgettable experience like they did, not one person left without having a very strong positive feeling about Nintendo. And then comes word of mouth (and blog), and before you know it, I'm in line for my Wii with all my mom friends. Something, by the way, I would have NEVER considered buying before now. But big deal. I'm only one person. But I'm a mom, see? And moms talk. And moms have a direct line to The North Pole at Christmas. Moms have to hear their 12 year old children (the future gamers of the world) begging for the next best video game until their ears bleed. Moms tie and untie the purse strings. How much clearer does it have to be? Moms are spending the money in families.

Do I like being a targeted consumer? Not always. In this case? Sure, why not? But that's not the issue here. The point isn't making a right or wrong issue out of it. It's recognizing it is what it is. Mothers are a force of consumerism yes, and also of activism, and of change. Better start getting used to it. We're not going anywhere...but forward.

* and for more of my 15 minutes of gamer-fame click here and, um here...hello Washington Post.


kirida said...

I think my tech prowess ended with Super Mario Brothers 3. I owned that.

What a great marketing move and totally enviable experience.

Mom101 said...

Of COURSE I have your back--at all times, in all matters. Even if you are normal (pshaw) or a soccer mom (pfffft).

This sounds so interesting. I'm psyched to click around and see what's what. Moms are so anti-videogames because of all the violence and sex, I think it's great that there's something out there with that much viral buzz that's mom-approved. Kewl.

Anonymous said...

Woohooo! You should be hangin' with Jenn over at Aggroqueen!

I must confess I know next to nothing about videogames but I think it's way cool that you got this opportunity, you classy bird (with great hair)!

Left-handed Trees... said...

"Normal" is an interesting way to be described, isn't it? Very interesting post...I'm still thinking about where I'd stand and about "The point isn't making a right or wrong issue out of it. It's recognizing it is what it is." These words are really echoing for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sparking mine...

Anonymous said...

What an interesting coincidence! I hopped over to your blog from mamasaysom, thanks to your lovely comment you left on my gravestone picture. Lo and behold, you're writing about your experiences as part of Nintendo's new family gaming foray - and I am currently writing the case study for the same project... on behalf of the strategic consultancy who helped Nintendo spec out the whole endeavour.

I just think that's so neat! Small world. Cheers from Halifax,

Anonymous said...

I just blogged on this at (after your comment on my other blog, Sounds very cool. I'm jealous :)