Promotional Consideration: Quote-based strategy

Eric Caoili
E. Caoili|01.13.08

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Promotional Consideration: Quote-based strategy

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

Given the anticipation for Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, at least among hardcore gamers, it's surprising that Nintendo hasn't launched an advertising offensive by now -- bombing strongholds with print ads, ambushing our television sets with commercials, and running its usual propaganda campaign.

But with less than two weeks away from Days of Ruin's release, we've yet to find the game advertised in any of the magazines we've cracked open, and the only commercial we've seen so far is the poorly thought-out one embedded past the post break.


Tilting screens. Exploding text.

As far as originality goes, this short, serious spot brings nothing new to the table. Obviously, we can't expect Leo Burnett, Nintendo of America's advertising agency, to take the same upbeat approach as the series' previous Japanese adverts. But aside from the commercial's drawn-out quote, there's very little that separates this gritty video from the similarly mature-targeted Panzer Tactics trailer CDV showed at E3 2006.

Let's talk about that featured excerpt from Kotaku's hands-on impressions of the game: "It may be a big change, but Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is a welcome addition... and one that should breathe new life into the game." We're sure there are instances when using a quote as the centerpiece for a commercial works, but this doesn't seem like one of them. Never mind that it took 10 of the spot's 30 seconds to deliver the passage, taking over the screen with its blank black background; the text just isn't strong enough to effectively sell the title.

Why are the "changes" in Days of Ruin's tone and cast presented as weaknesses? "A welcome addition" and "should breathe new life?" We can't imagine those votes of confidence convincing any hesitant gamers. And why wasn't the turn-based strategy title's online multiplayer and map-sharing modes, arguably the most requested features from fans, given greater prominence?

Please keep in mind that these criticisms aren't meant to be an affront to rival video game blogging site Kotaku. They couldn't have predicted that their preview would eventually serve as ad copy, so it would be foolish to fault them for not pushing Days of Ruin with more persuasive comments; that's Nintendo's (or their advertising firm's) job. We have also heard rumors of a companion print piece that plays up a praising quote from sister site Joystiq, and we plan to take apart that ad as well if it turns out to be as limp-wristed as this one.
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