Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Nintendo. I love them for all of their charm, their uniqueness, the memories they invoke in me and their joy-filled games. Many of my favourite games are branded with Nintendo’s famous ‘seal of approval’ and I’m happy for it. However, I’ve always felt that at times, Nintendo simply don’t know what they’re doing.
Never has this been more apparent to me than it has been this week, when Nintendo UK decided to fire its entire PR field team.
That’s right, within the same release month of Mario Kart 8 – perhaps Nintendo’s largest (and, in addition to Smash Bros., their last) chance to gain some traction for the Wii U – the UK branch of Nintendo has decided that it no longer has a need for any of its field agents. As someone that works within the retail end of the UK video gaming market, I understand how devastating a decision this is.
PR field agents have the opportunity to completely dominate a specific video game company’s retail presence, supplying information and hype to both retail consumers and staff members alike. Their worth to a publisher is much more than the wage they earn, so it’s odd to me that, especially in hard times, a company would decide this role is fruitless. Nintendo has always showed a shocking misunderstanding of branding and PR as a whole and has never fully grasped its use and power in this modern age.
Perhaps it is not that your PR agents aren’t doing enough for you Nintendo, but rather that you don’t cater to their potential to do more? Placing standees and dummy cases in stores is important for the sake of advertising, hype and brand awareness, but there’s so much more to PR than that. There’s a genuinely great opportunity for community building – something I’ve witnessed some PR agents attempt to do, though I worry they didn’t receive much support from their superiors.
Giveaways, competitions, community events, demos and a general company presence is vital. For an entertainment company to give up on PR and branding is to commit business suicide. It’s not just that it’s a poor way to save company money, it’s that it is actually counterproductive to the cause in the long-term.
Nintendo drastically need to reshape their aims and message and how they go about them, otherwise they’ll forever struggle to become relevant to the mainstream again.