Board games and spirited rounds of charades during the festive season appear to be a dying tradition, and it can seem as though young people's demand for technology has killed off sociable family interactions.
Nintendo, however, has sought to challenge this preconception, attempting to corner the fickle and highly competitive Christmas market with the Wii - a product that combines gadgetry with inclusive, convivial game play.
Aiming to entice a demographic of five to 95-year-olds, the latest console from Nintendo encourages multi-player interaction by bringing features such as a bowling alley, a golf course and a tennis court into the living room.
"It's a social pursuit," says Nintendo UK's trade and promotions marketing manager, Ben Taylor. "The Wii controller looks like a remote but is motion-sensitive and allows players to replicate movements and actions they would normally act out."
Engaging the broad target audience with such a niche invention has required considerable investment in below-the-line activity. This has culminated in a £1.5m sampling venture - the biggest for the Japanese brand to date.
Following a month-long pitch process during August 2006, agency Bd-Ntwk was appointed to develop and implement an experiential campaign that dovetailed the above-the-line and PR elements.
The six-month activity began on 10 November ahead of the official Wii launch at HMV in London's Oxford Street in early December.
The target audience was divided into four key markets; non-gamers, hardcore gamers, casual gamers and lapsed gamers. None of the above was considered beyond the brand's reach providing the hands-on nature of the brand was marketed in the appropriate manner.
"Experiential marketing is one of the foremost marcomms tools because of the nature of the product," says Taylor. "The control methods of this product are so different from the rest of the market. We are targeting a wider audience than much of the competition - the audience as a whole just needs to gain a general understanding of how it works."
Events are taking place across the UK and Ireland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Dublin, Cork, Birmingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes, London and Brighton. Venues include city centres, shopping centres, theme parks, events and exhibitions, airports, leisure venues and universities.
Bd-Ntwk aims to engage one million consumers with events tailored to appeal to student, female, family and urban thirtysomething audience segments.
The tour even rolled up at the BBC Good Food Shows in London and Birmingham as well as the female-dominated Clotheshow Live at the NEC.
Bd-Ntwk associate director Allan McLaughlin says: "We wanted to capture families and non-users. These venues have allowed us to target different people within non-traditional gaming environments. Nintendo is the human face of gaming. It is gaming for everyone, not just gamers. The sector is traditionally quite intense but the Wii is about having fun. We therefore created lounge rooms aimed at four different target audiences." The themed areas included a loft space, a young female-influenced room, a family lounge and a student space.
The console also offers hardcore gamers traditional single-player outings.
Of course, the publicity soured slightly after a number of over-exuberant players reported damages when the control escaped their grasp. In what Taylor describes as a precautionary measure, Nintendo is replacing the original straps for consumers, a process it rolled out across its tour also.
But no campaign is complete without the results to prove its success.
Through a clicker system, the audience volume and its split across the different groups is being monitored. A competition offering 50 Wii consoles to winners has also enabled data capture into gaming habits and purchasing power.
FINDING THE STAFF
Blackjack Promotions first started working on the Nintendo Wii pitch for Bd-Ntwk in July 2006 and was awarded the business in August. It initially conducted regional recruitment drives to ensure the correct staff profile was achieved across the UK and Ireland. More than 140 promotional field staff, with a dedicated office team of five, successfully brought the concepts and ideas to life, raising awareness and demand for the Wii.
Charlotte Birley, Blackjack account director, says: "Project management on a launch of this scale requires constant staff briefing and on-site troubleshooting. In addition to the staffing, Blackjack is responsible for a large proportion of the logistics to ensure each event is complete. Every day presents a new challenge for Blackjack but it continues to rise to them."