Best. Excuse. Ever! How my personal marketing campaign compelled me to buy a Nintendo Wii

Wii Fit ski

TBYB! believes the most valuable thing we can do with our technological gadgets is to use the things they know about us to support our own growth. The Nintendo Wii, especially with Wii Fit, is one of the most elegant applications of computing power applied to human development I have ever seen. If your goal is to be more of an athlete (or just play one on TV), the Nintendo Wii is about as good as it gets for visualizing yourself in that role.

Stuff you need

  • Nintendo Wii console – This is the basic Wii unit, which is required to play any of the Wii games. It comes with a game called Wii Sports, one remote control, and one Nunchuk — a handheld joystick-like controller used by a few of the games. Wii Sports includes tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing. The whole things sets up very easily and plugs into regular (RCA) audio/video input plugs on your TV.
  • Wii Fit – A “game” for the Nintendo Wii which includes the Wii Balance Board and the Wii Fit software disk. Both of them are awesome. The software includes 40+ fitness activities grouped into Yoga, Strength, Aerobics and Balance. Most Wii Fit activities utilize the Balance Board, which senses changes as you shift your weight forward, back, right and left.

Nintendo Wii console and Wii Sports

Even the basic Wii unit is unlike any other computer game you have played:

  • Kinesthetic involvement – The thing that sets the Wii apart from almost every other computer game is that you have to get up off the couch! In addition, the controls shrewdly simulate the coordination and muscle movements you would use if you were actually playing the sport. For example, hitting a baseball feels really realistic.
  • Stimulates your senses – The Wii system provides multiple modes of sensory involvement, including:
    • Sight – simple yet authentic venues that are beautifully rendered.
    • Sound – very realistic sound effects, like the crack of a bat, skiis chattering across snow, and an enthusiastic crowd that cheers for you when you succeed.
    • Touch – The remote control vibrates realistically at the moment of contact, such as when you hit a tennis ball.
    • Smell and taste – not yet, but it almost seems like it!
  • Reinforces participation – Lots of reinforcement is built in to the system. For example, both you and the crowd get really happy when you do well, and the system makes a big deal when you achieve a new personal best. You also earn new games (unlock additional features) as you spend time practicing and improve your score.
  • Personal identification – A brilliant aspect of the system is the use of customizable avatars, called Mii’s, that follow you from game to game. Your outfit changes slightly, depending on the sport you’re playing, but the underlying characteristics you’ve chosen for your character remain recognizable and consistent throughout. Even though these little avatars are very simple, I’m impressed by how much I’ve grown to feel like it is me (Mii) out there playing the game.
  • Fun – I find the Wii to be charmingly compelling. At times it’s even funny. I notice that I want to work out on Wii days — look forward to it, even. That’s saying something!

Wii Fit

The Wii Fit is a separate unit you purchase to extend the capabilities of your basic Wii console. It comes with a Balance Board that transmits your center of balance to the console, and includes software for 40 activities that use the Board, ranging from ski jumping and snowboarding to strength training, hula hoop and yoga. My favorite so far is slalom skiing.

It’s extremely interactive, and really ups the ante on the kinds of reinforcement that are already built into the basic console. It helps you set and track fitness goals, keeps track of how often and how long you work out, and offers tips based on your performance. You even get a coach. The role of the Balance Board is played by a cartoon version of itself that’s terminally cute, which somehow manages to be endearing instead of obnoxious.

Wii Fit is by far the best “game” I’ve played so far on the Wii, even though it makes my Mii chubby after it calculates my BMI (harsh!) and says say snarky things to me like “Too busy to work out yesterday, eh, Lynn?” I find that I work out longer with my Wii than with any other exercise activities I do — probably because it’s so much fun.

What does this have to do with my marketing campaign?

You’ll recall that the market research for my current goal indicated that it would be effective to reinvent myself as an athlete and position my mobility problems as a sports injury. The Wii is absolutely fantastic for this purpose, because the little character I identify with is right there doing the sports on the TV screen, and my senses, muscles and brain are engaged as well. (Plus the Balance Board is pretty good rehab for my leg muscles.)

I make a point of changing into my workout clothes before I start, and purposely spend most of my time playing games that are the most athletic, like baseball, tennis and skiing. The more I visualize myself right there in the venue participating in the sport, the better I do. As I focus on improving I notice myself taking on some of the mental attributes and attitudes of an athlete, like valuing practice and feeling competitive.

Notice that, in addition to providing a way for me to take on the identity of an athlete, the Wii addresses almost all of the intangible concerns that emerged in my competitive analysis:

  • I can do it now.
  • It’s safe and easy.
  • It could not be more convenient. I get to stay home.
  • I’m even still watching TV, although I do have to get up off of the couch.

It’s an extremely important part of marketing to discover and address the objections your target (you) might have to doing the thing you want them to do!

But that isn’t advertising

Right, but it is marketing. Remember that while advertising is usually more narrowly focussed on persuasion, marketing looks at the whole process of identifying what your target demographic wants and giving it to them. Once I’ve identified my marketing strategy for a goal, I find it both fun and astonishingly effective to integrate the idea in my life as often and in as many different ways as possible.

Think outside the box

How can you start doing things that simulate your goal? Remember, on some very real level your brain can’t tell the difference between make-believe and really doing it. Either way, you get to practice having the results you want. How can you rehearse being the person you want to become?

Your action steps

  1. Brainstorm several things you could do to simulate your goal being already true.
  2. Pick a small one that you can do this week, and take the necessary steps to make it happen.
  3. Join us on Monday for your next step.

Other articles in this series

  • Week 1 – Choose a goal
  • Week 2 – Do market research on yourself
  • Week 3 – Write a slogan for the campaign
  • Week 4 – Take a picture of yourself having the outcome you want
  • Week 5 – Analyze the competition
  • Week 6 – Decide how to position your behavior change
  • Week 7 – Choose a prop to enlist the people around you to talk about your goal
  • Week 8 – Look for opportunities to simulate the experience/outcome you want
  • Week 9 – Make and deliver your personal ad
  • Week 10 – Project wrap-up

Related articles

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  1. Laura
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Wow, you’re really on top of a trend with this article about the WiiFit. In the 11/11/08 New York Times, there’s an article in the Business section about how hotels are trying to lure guests with more amenities. And apparently at the Westin, it’s the WiiFit, which is being installed in some of their fitness centers. Here’s the url for the story.

    Way to go, Lynn! I guess all of us aging boomers are looking for kinder, gentler ways to work out.

  2. Posted January 20, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I got a Wii Fit for Christmas, and I’ve been having fun with it.

    If you get to the point where you unlock “Free Step” in the aerobics section you can do step exercises while you watch something else on TV – the Wii remote clicks like a metronome to keep you on pace, and you switch your forward foot every 100 steps.

    I’ve found that to great – I can do some light exercise while catching up on Top Chef!

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