Friday, January 24, 2014

Nintendo is Pushing Big on PR for the Wii U on Reddit - A Mostly Unsubstantiated Theory

Is This Social Media Marketing Done Right?
Is Nintendo Cleverly Gaming Reddit/r/Gaming for the WiiU?

Disclaimer: This is just a half-baked thought exercise.
Whatever, they've got nothing on Korean Starcraft players

Here at Rabbit, we think it's kind of beautiful in a perverse way when companies can seemingly trick/buy-en-masse/convince social media users to do their marketing job for them.

To be able to do so properly on a marketing aware website such as Reddit, a brand must be able to slip itself into a meme, spark discussion/nostalgia, and/or light a fire under the rear ends of "Karma Whores" (the white washed sepulchers of the community) to make them imitate the previous meme in hopes of accumulating those sweet sweet approvals from strangers upvotes.

Did Nintendo manage to do this successfully this past week to regain their footing right after their 18% post-forecast announcement stock plunge and are they buttering up the Reddit community to get them ready for a new batch of titles, mobile gaming, pre-hype the Nintendo 'Fusion', or just get their stock back to normal (which already happened)?

This short article is intended to entertain these ideas.

First, Some Non-Nintendo Examples of Reddit/r/Gaming Branding/Reactions:

Done Right: Valve/Steam
Manages to generally get positive reactions (comes and goes in cycles) if a Team Fortress 2 meme about hats is even semi-funny, an article talks glowingly about how awesome the nearly zero-tier corporate structure of Valve is, a rant about waiting for Half-Life 3 is seemingly heartfelt, or if Valve President Gabe Newell is even mentioned.

Done Horribly Wrong: Microsoft/XBox One
Mention of XBox One, or "XBone" as it is often referred to, may cause unnecessary anger, spark the First-World Gamer's equivalent to PTSD, or brings up links to articles and discussions about how Microsoft is trying to buy upvotes and pay people to say nice things about them. Bill Gates is still cool, though.

Nintendo seems to be right in between the two on Reddit, where a perpetual argument between diehard fanboys defending the company against XBox/PS4 gamers takes place, all while PC gamers just step in and throw in condescending remarks every once in a while.

Check out /r/HailCorporate for more displays of attempted viral marketing.

Top Nintendo posts this week

Nintendo has managed to capture the front page several times in the past week - users bringing up old clever ads, submitting product ideas, and even making "get well soon" memes directed at the company after a /r/bestof comment hit the nail on the head regarding the marketing failure of the Wii U:

The best response:
"Holy shit I just caught on to the fact that the wii u WASN'T an attachment for the wii.
This is exactly true for me...and now I feel old as shit."
Nintendo has essentially bowed, apologized for their failure, then turned right back around and got their footing back with the help of nostalgic internet gamers over the course of a few days by (possibly) lighting a candle under their butts by flooding the net with content and giving their fanboys a purpose. Don't believe me? Their stock returned to normal and only a few people noticed:

Regardless, I think the biggest lesson learned for them (at least in the US market) is that their strength is in their beloved first-party IPs... the things that bullrush many gamers with memories of childhood and hopes that the next iteration will be even better. When Nintendo makes a new console, they need to go down a checklist of games they need in the first year: Mario, Smash Brothers, Zelda, Mario Kart, Metroid, Pokemon, Mario Party, Mario Sports, etc. If they can't throw down at least 5 checkmarks on that list, the console might be done but it is not ready.

I specify the US market because the Japanese market for Nintendo is just fine: 9 of 10 best selling games in Japan last year are all on Nintendo consoles.

So, did Nintendo anticipate the stock drop and plan a brilliant online/Reddit PR strategy that got them right back on course darn near immediately (and made a select few a ton of money in a short period with the stock fluctuation)? Or was it just a completely natural and user-driven recovery?

It certainly is interesting to think about.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.

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