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Video Game Advertising Expected To Grow In 1989; Plus Latest NES Commercials

Video games have once again hit the big time and there’s no better time to see commercials and print ads than around the holidays. Nintendo has been spending more money during this quarter to drum up awareness of its popular NES and the games it plays. 1989 is expected to be even bigger with the possibility of more competition coming from more powerful 16-bit machines looking likely. Check out some of the commercials that may be airing in your neck of the woods:



Advertising: A Successful Toy Year For Bohbot by Randall Rothenberg

THE toy industry’s lackluster performance has not dimmed the holiday season for Bohbot Communications Inc.

The New York agency, which specializes in buying broadcast time and print space for marketers of toys and games, will close the year with $219 million in billings, up 62 percent from 1987. With toy sales up only 4 percent over last year and with toy advertising expenditures expected to be down about 15 percent, such growth is tantamount to a Christmas miracle.

Shelly Hirsch, the agency’s executive vice president, likes to explain the success by asserting, ”We’re not advertising people who do toys -we’re toy people who do advertising.”

Indeed, the frenetic informality and mile-a-minute banter with which a visitor to Bohbot’s lower Madison Avenue offices is greeted underscores that these are ad folk whose hearts and histories are in toy retailing. Ever optimistic, like the children with whom they converse, they believe the toy industry’s slump – now in its third year – is actually ending.

”No one will believe what I’m about to say, but 1989 should be terrific,” said Allen Bohbot, the agency’s chief executive.

Mr. Bohbot, 34 years old, a quick-lipped Jackie Mason sound-alike from Queens, is celebrating his successful year by changing the name of his agency, which was founded in early 1986 as Bohbot & Cohn. He has further thumbed his nose at the naysayers by announcing that his firm is expanding beyond the secure boundaries of media buying and entering the rough-and-tumble arena of children’s television production.

This morning, the agency expects to sign a licensing agreement to revive the defunct television series ”Bonanza.” ”Bonanza: The New Breed” will open in 1989 as an animated series and feature the children of Hoss, Little Joe and the rest of the Ponderosa crowd as modern cowboys.

Another series, ”Ring Raiders,” which Mr. Bohbot described as ”an animated ‘Top Gun’ for kids,” is being developed in conjunction with Those Characters From Cleveland, the American Greetings Corporation division that delivered unto the world Strawberry Shortcake. Matchbox Toys will create toys based on the show.

Another series, based on the Western Publishing’s Little Golden Books, will have Hasbro as the major toy licensor and sponsor.

The shop will distribute home video versions of these programs, which will feature two minutes of advertising, half of it reserved for a non-toy marketer.

”By being involved in the production and distribution of all these shows, we can now go to a toy company and deliver them a product, instead of just handling their advertising,” Mr. Bohbot explained.

Mr. Bohbot’s bullish expansiveness belies the overall state of toy advertising, which his agency’s researchers expect to decline from an estimated $350 million in billings last year. But he believes that the recent video game renaissance will lead to higher advertising expenditures next year.

In 1983, he pointed out, home video game systems sold about $1.8 billion worth of hardware and software and spent about $150 million on advertising. This year, video game sales should climb to $1.5 billion, led by Nintendo of America. Yet media advertising expenditures in the category will not exceed $30 million.

”Nintendo has moved its product very carefully and methodically into the stores, and its word-of-mouth is so strong it doesn’t need to advertise,” Mr. Bohbot said. But next year, the company plans to sell 7.5 million video game systems – up from 7 million in 1988 – and 55 different games, up from 34 this year, and much of it produced by 32 licensees.

”They will all need to advertise,” Mr. Bohbot said. Peter T. Main, Nintendo’s vice president for marketing, confirms that ”there will be expanded advertising next year.” Much of it will be aimed outside Nintendo’s main audience of boys aged 8 to 15, directed at adults and at children under the age of 8.

All told, Mr. Bohbot believes that by next Christmas, video game advertising could reach $100 million.

”Nineteen-eighty-nine won’t be like 1983, but it will be big,” he said.


[Source: The New York Times]


Craig Majaski

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He's currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.

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