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Promotional Consideration: Having word ability continues to pay

Eric Caoili

Promotional Consideration is a weekly feature about the Nintendo DS advertisements you usually flip past, change the channel on, or just tune out.

In last week's edition of Promotional Consideration, we snickered over Ubisoft's scandalous My Word Coach ad, reveling in the juvenility of its baseball/sex metaphor. Imagine our surprise and mirth when we stumbled upon another printed piece promoting the vocabulary trainer, this time targeted at women! While not even half as bawdy as its brother, nor as clever, this advertisement still has some qualities worth examining.

"Step your vocab game up."
Ambitious words. Big bucks. High heels.

There's not much to laugh about with this one, but we have to commend whoever handled the ad's copy for using correct grammar this time around. In an ironic twist, the previous My Word Coach piece we featured switched tenses mid-sentence ("If he kept it up, it was turning out to be ... "). For shame!

We tore this page from an issue of Blueprint: Design Your Life ("The fresh, fun guide to personal style."), a Martha Stewart magazine of all places. As you can see from the latest installment's cover, it is not your typical video game publication:

My Word Coach
stands out as the only reference to video games in the magazine's 144 pages. Far from Nintendo Power or Electronic Gaming Monthly's typical content, the articles in Blueprint lean towards cooking recipes, fashion advice, and tips for "making your home cozier." The other ads in this particular issue endorse products like Hanes All-Over Comfort brassieres and Singer sewing machines.

Ubisoft's decision to advertise in Blueprint is significant for several reasons:
  • This isn't just Nintendo putting its money where its mouth is, venturing into non-traditional markets to expand its audience. No, in this case, we actually have a third party publisher using its marketing budget to attract casual gamers.
  • Unlike high-circulation publications like Newsweek or Time, in which we've seen ads for Brain Training and the Nintendo Wii before, Blueprint: Design Your Life is a bimonthly magazine with a limited readership. While ad space is cheaper this way, there's also a change in strategy with drawing from smaller, but multiple pools.
  • An effort was made to adapt the piece for Blueprint (and other similar magazines My Word Coach might be advertised in) as well as its 25-40 female demographic.
On that last point, some might find this recast approach shallow in its attempt to appeal to women's interests. The sexual theme has been replaced with money, baseball exchanged for uncomfortable looking shoes. A pink DS Lite model and stylus close the deal. Surely, women are more complex than that!

At the very least, we're happy to see publishers admitting that girls play video games that aren't Nintendogs or Imagine Babyz. Nintendo UK's latest commercial for the handheld is another fine example of this positive direction:

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