Monday, January 14, 2008

Nintendo pulls in execs from outside industry

Last year Nintendo made a surprising move of forcing it's sales and marketing groups to move to other cities. The move resulted in some of the existing sales and marketing staff to retire and leave Nintendo, rather than move. While I can't claim I understand, or could explain, exactly what Nintendo was thinking in forcing sales and marketing to move to begin with, mainly as I think it was a boneheaded move, I think I can comment on the recent announcement of new executives being placed in the Bay Area office in Redwood, California.

Gamesindustry.biz reports that Denise Kaigler, formerly of Reebok, is replacing Perrin Kaplan as the new vice president of marketing and corporate affairs. Bill Van Zyll, formerly of Whirlpool, will be taking over as director and general manager of Latin America.

Now, I know the first thought that will run through a lot of heads is why in the world Nintendo pick up executives outside of the electronics world? Well, consider Reggie Fils-Aime. Sure, he came out of VH1 where he was credited with turning the channel's ratings around, but his biggest accomplishments came from Pizza Hut.

Thing is, Nintendo keeps thinking outside of the box. One of the big factors behind the Wii's success is that it appeals to both the hardcore gamer, and the completely clueless. Consider the Brain Age games for the DS. You couldn't possibly call them a game by the standards of 1999 or 2001, but they sell like hotcakes. Then there is the WarioWare franchise, which is made up of nothing but micro-games.

Nintendo figured out that in order to continue growing they couldn't focus on the same people buying the same product all over again. I went into that subject when talking about World of Warcraft not being the benchmark for MMO's, and when talking about the best MMO. The result is that the Wii has one of the widest ranges of software available outside of a Debian Repository.

That's where marketing execs from the likes of Reebok and Whirlpool fit in. For Nintendo it's not just about selling games and products to the 10 million or so people who bought them last time around, it's about selling to the hundreds of millions more who buy shoes and dishwashers. It's about selling to a wider range of potential buyers. It worked with Reggie, so there's reason to believe it will work again.
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