Monday, December 9, 2013

Weirdest Nintendo Promotion Ever?

How do you promote the latest new handheld gaming system featuring a touch screen? I'm no business expert, but mailing out disembodied hands with the slogan "Touching is Good" wouldn't have been my first choice.

Let's back up a bit. Nintendo's latest and greatest new handheld at the time was the Nintendo DS, which came out in late 2004 in North America and Japan and early 2005 in Europe and Australia. It was a time of great hype and fanboyism, as the official message board of Nintendo of America, the NSider Forums, was in full swing. If you weren't there to witness it, imagine, if you will, the strong uninformed opinions and overly strict moderation that you might see on a typical GameFaqs message board, but make it all about Nintendo and add in weekly trivia contests in live chat rooms and a never-ending quest to attain higher ranks according to your post and view count. As a young Nintendo fanboy, it was all I could ever hope for.
Good times...
But even though it seemed Nintendo could do no wrong for me, I still had to question the slogan for the Nintendo DS. "Touching is Good"? I imagined that someone had scrawled it out on a paper as a joke and that someone else had found it after a conference and actually used it. I can only assume that this slogan made shopping at GameStop an even more traumatic experience than it already was for any victims of physical abuse.

In any case, Nintendo went with that slogan and had to stick to their decision. But then, in April of 2005, several months after the Nintendo DS's release, they made things even weirder with a promotional contest. In what could only have been a series of logical leaps akin to Nicolas Cage's character in National Treasure deciphering the clues to the cover-up that is Mt. Rushmore, the DS's touch screen led to the "Touching is Good" slogan which led to... sending out mannequin hands with instructions to take pictures of them touching things.
It didn't matter how weird it was; the NSider Forums fed the hype and thousands requested to be sent a free mannequin hand, myself included. In fact, so many hands were sent out that after they ran out, they provided a downloadable image of the hand for you to Photoshop into pictures as an alternative. I pretty much just wanted the hand because it was free and used it to "lend a hand" and to creepily tap people on the shoulder.

After the submission period had ended, a panel of "qualified judges" sorted through the submissions like what must have been the closest thing to Chat Roulette the internet had yet seen (and by that I mean pictures of people's junk), and chose three winners. The grand prize winner received $1,000 cash, a DS, and four DS games, with second and third place receiving a DS and $500 or $250 respectively.

The winners and many of the other entries are still viewable on, but just in case of the site's eventual removal, here are the winning three entries:
Second Prize Winner - 1UP Submitted by Andrew E., California
First Prize Winner - Touch! Jungle Beat, submitted by Eric G., California
Grand Prize Winner - Touching is Good in video games, submitted by Steve B., Washington

If you still have your hand from this contest, feel free to take a picture and post it in the comments!

For more obscure Nintendo DS stuff, check out the inside of a DS Download Station or other stuff by Nintendo that was so crazy you'd think it was a joke.
Preemptive link to Betteridge's law of headlines.
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