Nintendo began a direct mail campaign to 3.5 million consumers last week to promote the Nov. 18 debut of its new gaming system, Nintendo GameCube, as well as several titles that will be available only for GameCube.
The mailings, which will go out through mid-October, will contain interactive CD-ROMs sent to names from Nintendo's internal database and names provided by retail locations.
Perrin Kaplan, vice president of communications and marketing at Nintendo, said the company mailed the CD-ROMs instead of a standard direct mail piece to give people a better idea of what the system can do and what they can expect from the games.
“We have come to learn that making a piece more interactive proves to be more effective in creating interest,” she said. “There is only so much you can get out of regular advertising. You have to give them a chance to get their hands on it and develop a feel for the games and what they will look like.”
The direct mail campaign is part of a $75 million integrated campaign that includes print ads, TV and radio commercials and an online initiative. Nintendo also will set up 12 Nintendo Cube Clubs nationwide with DJs playing music and 32 gameplay stations. Nintendo's overall marketing budget for this year is $240 million.
The campaign officially began last month with the debut of www.NintendoGameCube.com, which gives updates and information on the hardware and games and Nintendo Cube Club tour schedule.
Kaplan said the majority of people targeted are from the Nintendo database, though she would not break out the number of recipients from internal lists. She did say that more than 530,000 Nintendo Power subscribers and more than 125,000 guests to Nintendo.com will receive the CD-ROM. No other gaming magazine subscriber lists were used, and most outside names came from retailers.
The CD-ROMs contain a few minutes of action from several titles available on the new system. Kaplan said recipients can watch the action but not play. The CD-ROMs also contain information on the GameCube system and a link to NintendoGameCube.com.
Starting this month, Nintendo will run eight print ads in consumer and gaming publications. The ads will run into next year and appear in more than 50 magazines ranging from Maxim to Rolling Stone and Electronic Gaming Monthly to Nintendo Power.
Seven commercials will begin airing on major TV and cable networks the week of Oct. 15.