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Nintendo’s third quarter financial results aren’t normally essential reading for a content marketer, but this quarter is different.
Nintendo is struggling; the Wii U has been a disaster (I love it, but sales have been terrible) and the DS isn’t selling in the numbers it was.
Mobile disrupted Nintendo’s market and the ’what can save Nintendo?’ debate is coming down to whether they should take their amazing IP (Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, et al) to mobile platforms they don’t own, or to fight for the space they’re in.
Well it has decided to bet on mobile, but not in the way you might have predicted, and how it plays out could be interesting for content marketers.
Nintendo’s mobile plan is… content marketing?
In the report there’s a speech by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, and a Q&A from management that vaguely describes the company's plan for mobile.
Nintendo is going to move into the space, not as a new platform for their games but as a marketing tool that replaces its TV advertising.
According to Iwata:
Nintendo would like to establish a firm channel on smart devices through which we can connect with customers.
Wouldn’t we all? But how is Nintendo going to do it? What’s the magic plan?
We cannot expect consumers to activate our application every day if we establish a channel that is solely devoted to advertising. We would have to make efforts to provide a channel for consumers that makes them entertained, pleased and happy in order to use our application frequently.
An advertising channel that consumers will be happy to use regularly. Sounds good. Content marketing as everyone wants it to be.
What kind of content marketing?
But what will it be and can they crack it? Genuinely brilliant or useful things from brands remain rare. Companies, almost without fail, let the brand get in the way somehow.
Not necessarily in the most obvious ways, like overly promoting the brand or tying ideas down with brand values, but with lots of little micro-decisions and complexities that ruin things.
Will it make games? It’s the obvious thing and it's 'what they do'. Will there be a 'lite’ smart device version of Zelda to convince people to go on to a bigger, ‘better’ console version? Maybe.
Imagine Nintendo creates a great mobile world that’s just a small part of a bigger console world. You’d continue to play the mobile thing, but to get the full experience you might just be convinced that you need that Wii U.
But what if people just want more of the mobile stuff on the device they have? A problem that already exists.
It might make mobile comics, create animations, build a mobile world or have all the characters Snapchat friends of Nintendo. Who knows?
What’s interesting is that Nintendo has come to a natural conclusion about what advertising has to be and do.
It hasn’t picked ‘content marketing’ from the strategy handbook. It arrived at the strategy because the company knows what it needs, and knows how the power of entertainment can achieve it. And they’ve excluded telly as being irrelevant to this goal.
Hopefully it will naturally create a new form of content marketing that’s as uniquely entertaining and amazing as most of the other things it does.