The first spot breaks on tonight's episode of "Dancing with the Stars," said a spokesperson for Leo Burnett, which created the ads.
While the hard-core gaming market is already in a lather to get their hands on both the Nintendo Wii, which launches on Sunday, and Sony's PlayStation 3, which goes on sale Friday, both marketers hope the games' significantly expanded capabilities will appeal to all kinds of users beyond the traditional gamer demographic.
Retailers are ready for an onslaught, no matter who is buying.
Richmond, Va.-based Circuit City is opening six of its 635 stores at midnight for special sales events, and allowing customers to line up at other stores at midnight, as well as posting the number of available Sony units at each store, which open at 8 a.m. on Friday.
A Circuit City in Los Angeles as well as Toys "R" Us in New York's Times Square will both do countdowns until they open on Sunday to sell the Wii.
"We're expecting to sell out of initial allotments very quickly," said spokesman Jim Babb. He anticipates that in some locations, diehards will wait on lines all night long.
Nor do stores expect the hefty prices--$600 for the PS3 and $239 for the Nintendo Wii--to dampen enthusiasm, pointing out that it has been several years since the last "next generation" breakthrough, and sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360 ($399) are still going strong, one year after its launch.
Ads for the PS3, via TBWA/Chiat/Day, broke in late October. Themed "Play B3yond," spots include a creepy-looking baby doll watching a small black box in an empty white room. Sony is reportedly spending $150 million on advertising. (Sony and TBWA did not return phone calls.)
By contrast, Nintendo's efforts are much more in tune with its gaming-for-the-masses message. Ads feature two men traveling the country with a Wii console, knocking on doors, and announcing: "We would like to play"--and underscore the message that anyone can play.
But it too will court the faithful--the young technorati who drive the gaming industry. Nintendo is also including a TiVo "Gold Star Showcase" as part of its campaign, for example, featuring a two-minute anthem spot along with a "mockumentary" that describes the Wii experience. And Wii's MySpace page at www.MySpace.com/howwiiplay has attracted nearly 1 million page views from more than 200,000 unique visitors.
Added Chris Olivera, a spokesperson for GameStop, the 3,600-store chain based in Grapevine, Tex.: "It's always exciting to get new people into stores," he said. "We're seeing women, families, even grandparents looking at these things as investments for the whole family. It's not just the usual gamers."