Nintendo of Canada: Wii is smarter than a 5th grader

When Vancouver-based Nintendo of Canada was launching a new game for its Wii console, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, they wanted to market to families with kids - whether they were current gamers or not. So Starcom Toronto teamed up with CanWest to turn couch potatoes into gamers via an educational, fun property designed to overcome the notion that video gaming is bad for one's brain health. Learning? To woo new gamers, hook up with a TV show.

When Vancouver-based Nintendo of Canada was launching a new game for its Wii console, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, they wanted to market to families with kids – whether they were current gamers or not. So Starcom Toronto teamed up with CanWest to turn couch potatoes into gamers via an educational, fun property designed to overcome the notion that video gaming is bad for one’s brain health. Learning? To woo new gamers, hook up with a TV show.

Goal

To build awareness for Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree and drive interest and purchase intent.

Target

Families with kids 9 to 12.

Insights and strategy

The notion of ‘if they try it, they will buy it’ seemed to resonate with the Wii, so the execution needed to be as experiential as possible. Starcom partnered with Toronto-based CanWest MediaWorks to bring the program Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? to Canada, as they felt the U.S. show would be the ideal vehicle to demonstrate the educational value of gaming. Big Brain Academy was connected throughout the entire process of putting together Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader – from the Canada-wide casting tour to the pre-promotion, the announcement of the winning contestants and in all episodes.

The plan

In August, prior to the registration opening, Wiis with Big Brain Academy were given away on radio stations in five major cities. Working with Toronto-based Inventa, Starcom negotiated to have a Big Brain Academy Training Zone included in the registration process so kids could warm up their brains with the game before their auditions.

Wiis were also given to the winning contestants on Sept. 25. On the Canadian 5th Grader website, profiles of each child were posted with accompanying Mii avatar designs with their ‘brain weights.’ During the show, when a contestant reached the $25,000 Big Brain Academy Question, a Big Brain Academy logo appeared on screen.

As well, in the Big Brain Academy Challenge genre of the day, an announcer invited players at home to text in their answers for a chance to win a Wii package and a vacation for four. Supporting 30-second spots were placed within each episode as well as on the microsite, plus banner ads and pre-promo spots.

Results

Big Brain Academy site traffic more than doubled (+124%) on the Thursday night premiere vs. the Thursday a week prior. Most importantly, between the first and third weeks of October, sales results doubled. Press coverage also exceeded expectations.

Credits

Starcom Toronto: Shauna Chan, strategy director; Steve Aronovitch, broadcast investment manager

Nintendo of Canada: John Azevedo, senior manager, consumer marketing; Jocelyne Doyon, brand coordinator

CanWest: Gaye McDonald, VP marketing ventures/brand partnership; Annamaria Howard, PM; Sean O’Donoghue, specialist

Inventa: Alexa Freudigmann, director; Richard Weins, client manager

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