Nintendo, would you please advertise the 3DS? For real this time?


Hey, The Lion King’s 3D re-release topped the box-office charts over the weekend! (Go Simba!)  Wouldn’t that have been the perfect opportunity for Nintendo to stick pre-movie ads for a certain little handheld game machine? Then again, at this point, wouldn’t anyplace be a great spot for some 3DS advertising?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered a super-accurate meter for measuring Nintendo’s penetration into mainstream pop culture, and I’m sure many of you use the same gauge: it’s my pool of co-workers. I’m employed in an office with about 50 others. At the height of the Wii and DS popularity, more than half of them–ranging in age from mid-twenties to early sixties–owned a DS and/or a Wii. Most of them had never owned a game machine before, or had not bought one since the Atari 2600. They bought DS for Brain Age and stayed aboard for Mario and Professor Layton (and, basically, anything Lisa Kudrow advertised). They bought Wii for Wii Fit and stuck around for Mariokart and New Super Mario Brothers. It was a great time to be a fan, watching non-gamers discover the joys of first-party Nintendo.

Cut to today. Those same co-workers all own iPhones and not a single one of them (and, believe me, I’ve asked) know the 3DS exists.

We all know promoting 3DS presents a unique challenge: How do you advertise something you can’t demonstrate on TV? Well, there’s the “take a look inside” campaign–a good try. But, remember how–just before launch–Nintendo declared they were going to rely primarily on “Word of Mouth” to sell 3DS? We all know how well that turned out.

Okay, Nintendo, time to take off the white gloves, dig into your bank account, and get the attention of mainstream America. Hire Johnny Depp. Hire Lady Gaga. Hire Gerard Butler. Bring back Lisa Kudrow, because she’s awesome. Pay them whatever they want: spend money to make money. Saturate prime-time television with clever ads. Have Depp ducking canon fire. Have Kudrow giggling in Starbucks while smacking her friend with tennis balls in Face Raiders. Have Butler cursing as he fights the dragon that’s bursting out of his coffee table.

Nintendo needs to saturate prime-time television for a few weeks and get the attention of the ever-so-fickle casual mainstream. They need to highlight the familiar Miis, the 3D films, the Netflix, the 3D camera (and 3D video capture coming this Nov.), the family-friendly eShop, and the great games coming out this Holiday season.

The company can’t hope for the same immediate runaway success that they had with Brain-Age era DS: the competition’s much tougher today. But they can certainly get 3DS into the public consciousness. Up to now, it seems like they haven’t even tried.

What do you think? The two new Mario games will attract fans in the next three months, but can Nintendo get 3DS “noticed” by everyone else this winter?


  1. I totally agree. Their ads are sparse as is. Time to up the exposure.

  2. I second that. The most common response I get for the system among the more casual crowd is “Is that a 3DS? I’ve never seen it in the wild before!” or “Wow! Face Raiders/AR Cards worked better than I thought it would!”

  3. I agree 100% – the only ads I’ve seen are 10 seconds and are for the new price point.

    I understand that stereoscopic 3D is hard to represent to the general public through television or newspaper, but that’s seriously not the only thing going for it, and a longer ad would give time to explain the “uses” for 3D.

    «Now you can take pictures in 3D and really relive the experience whenever you see them !»

  4. Amen! I brought my 3ds to work yesterday and like you, not many knew what it was! Those that had heard of it assumed that it was just a new DS, not a whole new system! All who played it were amazed and claimed their adoration for it! Help us save YOUR system Nintendo!!!!

  5. Lots of game-specific ads, especially Star Fox right now, but it also doesn’t specifically scream “I am on a new system,” rather, it emphasizes why you should buy it for the 3DS you already (or will) have. The one I have seen – people reacting and going “OH WOW” doesn’t really mean anything, either.

  6. I agree, I work at Costco (which is like sams club in the states) we sell 3DS’s but only 2 games. Zelda and star fox and So far I have not seen one sold since I started working there.

  7. Yeah, they need a more focused “Only on 3DS!” type of advertising!

    The 3DS is a really nice piece of hardware by itself, Nintendo needs to highlight also all the stuff you get with the machine and online service alone.

    However, now I think the poor sales are due to the current situation with the economy and gamers, both casual and hardcore, sticking to what they already have in their pockets and living rooms…

  8. @InvisibleMan

    I wouldn’t call it “a really nice piece of hardware by itself”, honestly. It scratches itself, there are people who have broken shoulder buttons due to dust getting in them, warping d-pads, not to mention a bad camera and outdated touchscreen (both of the latter assumedly for backwards compatibility).

    It does have some serious power behind it, though, I would agree…unless you’re comparing it to the Vita…

    As for software, on it’s own, the only thing that held my interest for more than a few minutes was the mini-RPG for streetpass, which I brute forced using kitties until I got my Ultimate Hat. Face Raiders was cool at first, and the AR cards were fun for a few minutes, but nothing other than that…

    That leaves us with software. Street Fighter IV, which you can get on more powerful consoles, which support DLC (other than having to buy an entirely separate cartridge!), two N64 games, and Pilot Wings, which is basically an N64 port, but is different enough, I guess.

    The problem is that there isn’t too much to advertise about the system other than the 3D, and that’s hard to translate–the core already know everything else, and the general consumers don’t care about how much power it has, or how many cameras, or the addition of the circle pad.


  9. @monkat: I’ve seen the warped d-pad picture. That wasn’t even a 3DS d-pad, I’m telling you that right now, the color was way off, and it was positioned wrong on the system to be a 3DS d-pad. I’ve never heard of the broken shoulder buttons problem (and they’re not broken…that happens to DSLites sometimes, just get a toothbrush and brush at the shoulder buttons for awhile, it’ll fix it) And as for the screen-scratching…just don’t slam the system shut, and you won’t have those problems. And I’m not sure how the touchscreen is ‘outdated’ as you say…the only thing I can truly agree with you on is the camera.

  10. @GameCollector44

    Nintendo admitted that there was a warped d-pad issue–I believe they claimed that it was a paint problem?

    Anyway, I’ve never had the shoulder button problem before, but a podcaster on had the problem on the 3DS, but never any of the DS models. After a bit of research (I’ve never had a problem with either), you’re right on this one–it happens all of the products using the DS brand.

    Screen scratching happens no matter what. I gently closed it every single time, and it still kept getting scratched until I went out and bought a screen protector for the first time in my life.

    Touch screen is outdated because it’s resistive–it judges the coordinates based on where you put pressure on it, so it is incapable of judging one point on a grid. A capacitive touch screen (the “new”[see:introduced into consumer products several years ago] kind) judges points based on the electricity in your fingers, so it can detect multiple points.

    It’s not really «agree» or «disagree», more of «this is the case»

  11. Remember the original DS commercials with the ‘touching is good’ tagline? Those were the days.

  12. the take a look inside commercials… they didnt actually make sense to me. i didnt understand how they were showcasing 3D at all.