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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. 

Donnie Kerrigan

Published 11 March, 2014 by Donnie Kerrigan

Donald Kerrigan is Managing Director at Chunk and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Rob Southey

We can all do without advertising. At one time, Television was predicated on sponsors and ad revenue, but look how HBO makes money. Nintendo has to find another way to ensure ongoing revenue. Te Customer channel is a great start.

over 2 years ago



I think the clever way Nintendo can take advantage is to go back to the old winners like Mario and Zelda and use those platforms to introduce new devices like the Wii U. The Wii was successful, because Nintendo didn't try to be Sony or Microsoft. They did what they did base and targeted the right market. They should use the same formula now.

over 2 years ago


Donnie Kerrigan

Mario and Zelda are on Wii U Adibs (http://newsupermariobrosu.nintendo.com/), but it's still performing badly.

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Apple or Samsung should buy Nintendo to make Nintendo games an an exclusive on their mobile platform and deny them to the other's. Not a new idea, but good. Then we would *really* see some content marketing! More, see:

over 2 years ago


Shann Biglione

I think we're mixing up a few things here. Nintendo IS a content producer. They would merely be extending their product range and distribution channels.
And yes, to be effective in their advertising, brands need at some point to "get in the way", which is why content marketing that works is a lot harder for brands whose business is not content production. Marketing that cannot put the brand front and center is not worth much.

over 2 years ago

Donnie Kerrigan

Donnie Kerrigan, Managing Director at Chunk

Are they extending their product range and distribution channels though Shann? Their products won't be on smartphones, at least not until there's a Nintendo smartphone. So they're left with having to create content that is marketing - not the product in itself.

over 2 years ago

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