‘Webisodes Are Key’ in Game Boy Push

LOS ANGELES Independent Sedgwick Rd.’s fourth-quarter Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP campaign calls for players to “start mayhem” with lower-priced consoles featuring color-inspired “personalities,” the agency said.

Traditional print and television advertising will roll out through October, said Jim Walker, president of the Seattle-based shop, which handles Nintendo roster work via the company’s American headquarters in Redmond, Wash. “But as 2004 progresses and we get closer to the holiday sales season, the heavy lifting will be done via the Web.”

Print executions emphasize the product’s recent $20 price cut, said Walker. Ads will appear in newspapers and magazines including Blender, Stuff, Spin, The New York Post and the Orange County Register beginning Sept. 13.

“But Webisodes are the key,” he said. The 30-second, CGI-animated movies will be “more emotional in their approach,” focusing less on rational selling points and more on the idea that each console has its own distinct identity.

Expanding upon Nintendo’s 2003 “Who are you?” campaign, created by lead agency Leo Burnett, Chicago, eight new Web spots feature the usually inanimate Game Boys brought to life in a variety of situations. The first to launch, “Onyx” and “Flame,” are both viewable online at www.startmayhem.com.

Laid-back Onyx sports “a cool head under fire” and hangs out by the jukebox, while Flame “revels in chaos,” Walker said. According to the Web site, spots starring Cobalt- and Platinum-inspired identities will be introduced next.

The Webisodes—accessible by click-through banner ads on sites such as WB.com, MTV.com and aol.com—may also include games, personality tests and dating services.

A 15-second TV spot with both character and price-cut messages launched late last week on network and cable channels including ABC, the WB, UPN, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central and ESPN, a Sedgwick Rd. representative said. Starcom USA, Chicago, handled on- and offline media.

Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported that Nintendo’s Game Boy SP division spent $35 million on advertising in 2003. It spent $13 million in January through June 2004, slightly more than half of the company’s overall marketing budget. The Game Boy Q4 ad spend was not disclosed.