Kirsty Henderson

marketing manager, Nintendo of Canada, Richmond, B.C.- Developed launch plans for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which then sold more than 590,000 units in its first 10 months.- Developed the 'Nintendo Power Club' product flyer program, a hugely successful Nintendo promotional...

marketing manager, Nintendo of Canada, Richmond, B.C.

- Developed launch plans for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which then sold more than 590,000 units in its first 10 months.

- Developed the ‘Nintendo Power Club’ product flyer program, a hugely successful Nintendo promotional vehicle.we asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘Intuition is an integral element in successful marketing. The combination of intuition with a more formal analytical approach is essential in handling any business opportunity.’

Q.Was there a significant turning point in your career?

A. ‘Yes. Joining Mattel Canada in 1986 to work on the Nintendo business was definitely the beginning of a very exciting, challenging and fulfilling period for me.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘Being actively involved in the rapid growth of the Nintendo video game business has been a tremendous influence.’

Q. What is your favorite marketing campaign (not including campaigns with which you have been involved?)

A. ’1) Starbuck’s Coffee. 2) The Volkswagen campaign.’

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘The Calvin Klein print ad.’

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. ‘I enjoy sports (squash and field hockey), classical music, languages, travel and literature. Living, working and playing on the West Coast is also most enjoyable.’

Q. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

A. ‘You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tanner.’

Q. What book influenced you the most?

A. ‘Not a specific book, but Shakespeare’s plays.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘I enjoy the constant challenge to manage a business and developing a consumer franchise in a dynamic industry. The mix of creativity, intuition, number-crunching and problem-solving allows for a wide variety of experiences.’

Kirsty Henderson entered the marketing world in 1982, when she joined Longdon, a Toronto-based sports accessories manufacturer, as sales and marketing manager.

Three years later, Henderson, who holds an English Honours degree from Brandon University in Brandon, Man., and has taken graduate business courses at the University of Western Ontario, in London, moved on to Showcase Marketing as a marketer of exhibit space for trade and consumer shows in Metro Toronto.

In 1986, Mattel Canada hired her as a senior product manager, working on its Nintendo Entertainment System account.

In 1990, Nintendo of Canada took the Nintendo business in-house and Henderson was offered the position of marketing manager.

She accepted and continues in that post today.

Her responsibilities include brand management (Nintendo has three brands: Super NES, nes and Game Boy) product introductions, consumer research, direct marketing and corporate communications.

Creative/Strategic Sense

‘She always encouraged her agency creatively. You know she didn’t want you to play it safe’.

‘One of Kirsty’s biggest contributions (at Mattel) was the development of Nintendo’s ‘Power Club’ product flyer program. Power Club developed a huge circulation. It was incredibly popular and incredibly effective.’

‘Kirsty has been very, very open to unique media and promotion ideas for Nintendo. So often you develop ideas like crazy for a client and they never seem to have an interest in them.’

Management Skills

‘She’s very open with information. When you work with her, you never run into surprises.’

‘If she believed in something, she would fight for it. And she would fight for her salespeople, too.’

‘Kirsty comes in with a strong point of view, but if we have a different point of view, she’s certainly willing to listen.’

Competitive Sense

‘She was definitely a go-getter (at Longdon.) Unfortunately, at that time (1982) she ran into quite a bit of resentment from men in the field because they were not used to seeing a woman in her role. But she handled them.’

‘Kirsty is competitive, very competitive in her personal life, very competitive when it comes to sports. So she takes it almost personally when it comes to her brands. She views the marketplace as a battleground, and she wants to win.’

‘Probably one of her greatest strengths is that she is rock-steady. She doesn’t let things faze her. She puts her nose to the grindstone and gets on with it.’

Corporate Future

‘She realy loves the video-game business an it is evident in everything she does. The down side for her is how do you beat Nintendo as a product to market. I know, myself, I’d hate to go back to marketing soap. Maybe her next move will be to Nintendo in the U.S.’

Next issue: Don Grant, vice-president of marketing, Wrigley Canada.