Nintendo has always has a reputation of being a family-friendly brand, right from the days of the NES when the firm would painstakingly censor many of its games to ensure there was zero chance of them causing offence. While the company's stance arguably softened during the GameCube years, by the time the DS came along, Nintendo was ready to enter a new period of family-friendly marketing – and the results speak for themselves, with the DS selling over 150 million units worldwide.
However, Slopes Game Room has unearthed one piece of promotion from this period which was unashamedly mature in tone and very much at odds with Nintendo's typical stance. At the UK's 'Download' heavy metal festival in 2005 – which showcased acts such as Black Sabbath, My Chemical Romance, Billy Idol, Motörhead, Slipknot and Megadeth – Nintendo erected a tent as part of its 'Touch Me' Tour to promote the touchscreen-ready DS console.
Inside were demo pods where festival-goers could sample the latest DS titles, but one of the main draws of the tent was an open mic section where attendees were encouraged to step up and tell jokes, with the results being broadcast not just in the tent itself, but also outside via a big-screen.
As you can imagine, the kind of jokes being told by drunk and rather rowdy rock fans wouldn't have correlated closely with Nintendo's usual marketing stance, and it's said that people manning the stand had access to a button which was intended to cut-short the audio if any of the jokes took an 'adult' turn (spoiler alert: most of them did). Amazingly, though, Nintendo didn't make any attempt to remove the open-mic section from the tent during the three days it was in use, so it was clear that whoever was in charge didn't have a massive problem with it.
Indeed, while it's tempting to brand this as something of an ill-judged PR stunt on Nintendo's part, it would seem whoever arranged the tent was fully aware of what would happen. Emblazoned on one side of the tent is 'The Bear', a crude character created for Leigh Francis' late-night sketch show Bo' Selecta.
Amazingly, no footage of the inside of the tent appears to exist online. If you attended Download that year, let us know with a comment – perhaps you were brave enough to take to the stage and tell one of your best (worst) jokes?
Wow, that is some weird marketing stuff. Definitely out of character for Nintendo.
Oh, they 100% knew this was out of character, but that was the point. Shock marketing always gets the attention
I seem to remember some fairly mature ads for the GBA SP in men’s magazines as well, one featuring a couple in bed and something along the lines of it being ‘nearly the best thing to do at night’ 👀
I went inside when it was at Download. Everyone was trying to steal the display models. Would it make me want to buy a DS? maybe not but it was fun was advertising
I'm pretty sure after everyone wrote off the purple lunch box as a kid's toy, Nintendo tried REALLY hard (way too hard) to convince people that their systems were for adults, too.
Yes very odd. Definitely on purpose as the bear is incorporated in the artwork and on the video wall.
Bear - famous for getting a hard-on during celebrity interviews.
What is unusual is the game line up on show - which didn’t match the marketing theme or the target audience.
To not sure what was out in 2005 that would have appealed to that market maybe……Burnout? Mario kart? Project rub? Tony hawk? metal gear?..
So cool. I went to a less adult oriented DS hands on show case at Bluewater pre release. Very exciting, played a bit of SM64DS and Project Rub which I think ended up having a different name over here in the UK.
I also went to one for the Wii U but I was older and the games on show were generally less exciting to me even if they showed promise.
I'd really like somebody else to remember the Nintendo Challenger though. I am sure I went to it when I was a kid. It may or may not have been at Thorpe Park or Chessington. I'm pretty sure it was a massive lorry with one side of it open and it had SNES demo units to play and possibly N64 demo units.
It wasn’t just Download, I saw that at T In The Park 2006
Early DS marketing and late GBA marketing was alot of catering to the hip-hop/rock crowd and it never felt right, probably because it felt like a half-measure to the content they were putting on there. It felt like alot of marketing trying to counteract the claim that Nintendo is for kids. The DS Lite was when Nintendo reflected, changed the image and thought it could be the every day accessory and it worked phenomenally well.
To be fair, Nintendo's whole strategy with the DS was to sell it to people who weren't normally into video games, and it was pretty successful in that regard. This kind of thing is out of character in the grand scheme of things but it fits with Nintendo trying to branch out beyond core fans like you and me.
@Mattbunting i remember this too!
Should have roped The Darkness into this promotion - Ta-Ta Touchin Yoooouuuuu!!
I wasn't at that Download with Billy Idol but Nintendo had a similar thing the year after. Went in there whilst on our way to the second tent to see The Prodigy.
Was just a white tent with Apple-like demo stations/tables with DS Lites attached to them from what I remember. There was a stage but no idea what was going on.
@Sean161 yeah... go on then
@Lord The target audience for the DS was approximately everyone
I mean they did do advertisements with strippers at some point as well
Just remember the original slogan for the DS. I mean, I don't get why they were ever allowed to do or name things like that, but this feels like the radicalness of the 90s leaking into the 2000s from a first glance.
God I love early-2000s marketing where everything had to be "edgy" and "extreme", even if it just didn't work.
They did this type of thing with regularity in the early to mid 2000s, definitely going for that nu-metal sort of crowd with a lot of it.
@ralphdibny : It was actually called Project Rub in Europe and Australia. It was called Feel The Magic: XX/XY in North America.
It was funny seeing a G8+ rated game (since superseded by PG) with a woman in her underwear on the cover, though the rating was indeed appropriate for the game's content.
Even weirder is the Japanese title, which translates to "I Would Die For You", and the sequel, known internationally as "The Rub Rabbits" is called "Where Do Babies Come From?" in Japan.
The games were a lot of fun though, like a sexy story-oriented WarioWare, and the graphics were simple but gorgeous, with a very 2000s silhouette aesthetic (also adopted by Apple for their iPod marketing at the time). I would love to see the series continue.
@electrolite77 I wish I wasn’t too young to miss the glory days of T in the Park. That TRNSMT replacement festival is garbage in comparison.
DS Download Play in action.
I am a Metalhead. And a Nintendo fan. I love Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, Metroid, Earthbound... But i also love Slayer, Sepultura, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse... what's the problem?
Yeah I've seen that one 😂
Since gaming wasn't as mainstream and accepted as it is today, the ads were more rebellious and edgy during the late 90s and 2000s. You can especially notice this if scrolling through some old gaming magazines. I miss those days.
I was there. They went to other festival, too. Later, Guitar Hero would have its own stage. Ubisoft used to go to a lot of them as well.
Quite normal really. It’s just experiential interactive marketing executions designed to promote the brand and acquire contact details
@Silly_G oh yeah that was it. I thought it was the other way round 😅. What a weird game, especially for a launch title. I think I did have it but traded it in or something, somewhat to my regret.
@Sean161 find me on twitter under "slopesgameroom"
@Rosalinho yes indeed, i think you should see it as as experiment... one group did work (mothers!), ohters might less so...(and some of those 'hardlads' when returned might have sneaked into a game store afterwards... people are different in groups than alone... )
@ralphdibny : Another particularly weird launch title was Sprung, which was a dating sim/visual novel, and a Western one at that.
It was critically panned, but I waited for it to go on clearance, and I had quite a lot of fun with it. The dialogue was surprisingly good for the most part, and I was quite a sucker for goofy dating sims.
@ValZ Was that "Touching is good" or something weird like that?
I love Nintendo AND ripping old school death metal. Makes sense.
@Oppyz666 Super Metroid pairs wonderfully with Nocturnus’ first record. You’re welcome.
Yeah it’s not the same at all, TRNSMT is just a big gig in a field whereas T (I went in 06 and 08) felt like a proper festival. Used to get some fantastic line ups as well-2011 was amazing when they had acts that were headlining Glastonbury and Reading that year (Beyoncé, Pulp, the Strokes) playing lower down at T. I think the campsites were getting really hard to handle last few years though, they cut back on stages like the Pet Sounds Arena and the move from Balado really killed it. Shame.
@electrolite77 Yeah, my uncle played a couple years and said that it was the best atmosphere he played to in the UK! Proper rowdy stuff, how it should be.
@Silly_G ohhhh yeah! I had to look it up but I remember that now. What a blast from the past, I feel like there was quite a decent sized and varied launch line up for the DS even if my own experience was limited to SM64DS, the Metroid Prime Hunters demo and Pictochat.
I'm not sure if that Urban Asphalt GT was a launch game too. I picked it up for dirt cheap much later in the life cycle. I got reminded of that when the 9th iteration came out on switch. I had no idea there was a 2-8 😅
I'm pretty sure these weren't launch games but I remember playing a lot of Viewtiful Joe and Burnout Legends on DS too. I need to revisit some of these games!
Touch me tour 😏
Obviously I now have to ask….who’s your Uncle?
@electrolite77 Hahaha, he was in Dananananaykroyd. They made a FIFA soundtrack so were decently big in the late 2000s into early 2010s!
@Minako Yea, it was.
Yeah I remember them. Saw them at Leeds Festival in, I want to say 2009, they were pretty good. Cool.
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