How We Got the Nintendo Wii in 8 minutes

Originally posted on November 28, 2006 . . . the preferred game system in our house now is the PS3, sorry Wii.
Editor’s Note: Welcome gamers and curiosity seekers! We’re glad you’re here . . . this is a marketing/PR blog that just happens to have a few fun stories. . . here’s one now . . .

This post is for all of our Marketing Transformations Network ezine readers who are wondering what happened with the Nintendo Wii . . .

A brief recap: A, our 14 year-old videographer/sk8tr dude, wrote a brilliant marketing proposal that convinced me to attempt to acquire a Wii, the newest Nintendo game console.

“Attempt” is the operative word. With a November 19 release date and no pre-order, we were left with few options. Make that one option: waiting in line to get a number to buy the $249 game system.

Saturday night, November 18, we called area stores to ask about their waiting line policy and to check their inventory against the online stats.

Target in Wheaton promised units to the first 60 people waiting in line at 7:00 a.m. – two hours before the store opened. We went to bed with a plan to be in line at 6:00 a.m., but we left the driveway at 7:05 a.m. and when we got to Target the numbers were gone.

Sunday mornings around here are quiet and on this fresh and sunny autumn new day, I was easily swayed into driving a little further to see if we could get in line for a game system.

Setting only one condition: we had to be home in time for the 8:45 a.m. worship service, we set our sites on a cluster of stores up north.

When we pulled up to our next stop, the gamer dudes at the front of the line at Target in Glendale heartily agreed that Big Kmart was our best option. One of the guys towards the end of the line taunted, “Hey, I’ve been in line for 6 hours.” He didn’t have to add – and you’re never going to get one.

There was no line at Big Kmart, but there were signs that the gamers in line had dispersed only to reconvene for pick-up two hours after the store opened. All of their numbers were gone.

Toys ‘R Us had a line and Best Buy looked vacant. Neither provoked enough interest to get us to pull over. What to do with only 20 minutes left on our clock?

Go with the dark horse . . . the store of last resort – make that S-E-A-R-S. Yep, good ‘ole Sears. The store that granted most of my own wish list wants as a kid. Why not?

Hauling our minivan straight over to Sears we saw – no one.

Did that mean there were no Wiis? But wait. . . a sign on the door looked promising. Both boys hopped out and then I joined them to confirm that hey, guess what, Sears had the goods and the best part? Only 14 minutes until they passed out numbers.

Hedging our bets, I drove to the lower level to see if Sears had a door there. They did so I zoomed back to the original door, picked up our youngest and raced back to the other door. Now we had a post at each – and we were first in line at both places.

As we pulled into position on the lower level, two Sears employees were approaching the door. “Get out of the car – now! Tell them you’re here for the Wii,” I commanded as B raced out to greet them in his Nike Frees.

“Are you here for the Wii?” the Sears guy asked.

“Yes, sir, I am,” B replied.

“Is that your mom?” the Sears Wii grantor asked.

“Yes sir, she is,” B affirmed.

After confirming that we would agree to the package buying terms [one controller + one game], the Sears associate handed me our golden ticket: a small photocopy of a receipt that permitted us to purchase one of their two units.

B was speechless. I was dumbfounded. After seeing people who’d waited in line for hours – we’d waited less than 15 minutes to get only 1 of 2 game units.

When we drove up to the other door, A was still first in line. “Get in the car – now!” I yelled. As soon as he was inside, I told the rest of the line there was only one unit left – at the other door. We drove away and got home in time to get to church.

My advice on buying game systems? Put your name on a preorder list as soon as the announcement comes out and be prepared to get bumped. Wait in line, if you want, at a Target, Best Buy or Wal-mart, but call around to see how many units the store will get before you get in line. If all else fails, don’t think like a gamer. Go where they don’t think to go.

This isn’t the first time Sears has surprised me. One of the best and biggest surprises of my life was when Sears engaged me as an internal communications consulting contractor. I have to think that some of my work for them pays off in good karma today.

Is this coolest game system? Can’t tell you, but if the noise coming from our (w)rec(k) room is any indication, the Wii is off the charts. I saved this post and decided to publish today after watching the ABC morning news crew play Wii tennis on their show this morning.

Have a Wii? Leave a comment below . . .


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