Nintendo Wii and Gladiators

The video gaming market is one of the fastest growing entertainment sectors and in 2008 was worth around £2.7 billion in the UK alone. Consequently, competition for platform penetration and software sales is extremely high.

Female Gladiator

Nintendo’s development of Wii, a revolutionary console which put physical interaction and social gaming at its centre, has opened up the young, male dominated market to a much broader audience. Nintendo wanted to reach this wider audience and underline the ‘for everyone’ proposition of the console.

At the centre of Sky1’s Autumn 2008 schedule was the big budget revival of 90s TV classic Gladiators – the perfect fit for Nintendo. Sky Media were able to pull together a sponsorship campaign that included linear and on-demand TV, online, publicity and marketing; providing Nintendo with the opportunity to reach their audience via multiple platforms in both the UK and Ireland.


  • Communicate the social gaming credentials of Wii and its associated games by positioning Wii as a console that family and friends can enjoy together

  • Showcase the extensive and diverse range of games available for Wii, underlining the ‘for everyone’ proposition of the console

  • Illustrate the level of physical interaction the Wii experience offers; delivering a clear and positive point of difference from other consoles in the market

The Sponsorship and Creative

The return of Gladiators provided Nintendo with a property that was guaranteed to be talked about. The campaign comprised the sponsorship of the entire first series of Gladiators including celebrity specials and two additional documentaries aired prior to series launch. As a key programme in the Sky1 schedule, Nintendo also benefited from over 13,000 Wii branded promos. In addition to linear broadcasting, Wii’s sponsorship extended to all episodes shown on Sky Anytime, Sky’s popular Video-On-Demand service. In total over 1 hour 48 minutes of sponsorship creative were aired.

The first episode debuted with an average audience in excess of 1 million viewers. Children were pivotal to the show’s success, representing on average 26% of the audience each week, demonstrating the show’s ability to reach Nintendo’s target of family viewers.

The sponsorship creative featured a selection of the most popular characters from the original cast of Gladiators, including Lightening, Wolf and Saracen. They were filmed playing Wii in a fun environment with family o friends. As well as tapping into the essence of the show, this enabled ii to showcase their diverse range of games within their idents. View te idents at above on the media player.


Accompanying the series, Sky1’s media team created a micro-site with extensive content including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage; Gladiator profiles; photo galleries; biogs; a Gladiators game; and a bumper competition prize package – all co-branded with Wii. The online branding included animated sponsorship banners, 5″ pre-rolls on all exclusive video content, display advertising (banner and MPUs) and a ‘Win a Wii a Week’ competition page. On-air voiceover continuity was used to drive traffic to the site. Over the series the website achieved over 1 million page impressions to 320,000 unique individuals.

Experiential and Publicity

Adding an experiential element, Sky provided hands-on time and game demonstrations of the Wii to thousands of adults and children who formed part of the studio audience during filming. Gladiators also visited Sky’s call centres in Scotland where over 10,000 staff members had the opportunity to challenge Gladiators in battles on Wii consoles. Sky’s publicity team were also able to facilitate an interview with gamers’ favourite Gladiator Inferno for the official Nintendo Wii magazine.


A two wave independent research project was conducted to analyse Awareness, Message Take Out, Brand Image and Purchase Intent of the sponsorship.

Awareness and Brand Image
Sponsorship awareness for Wii was very strong. Research showed that 62% of viewers were aware of the association, exceeding the Sky1 norm by 12% and underlining the strong synergy between Wii and Gladiators. Viewers aware were more likely to agree with brand image statements including: ‘a wide range of games’ and ‘games for everyone’ and significantly more likely than those not aware of the sponsorship to agree with the brand statements ‘social gaming’ (94%) and ‘a brand with a good reputation’ (93%).

Message Take Out and Purchase Intent
Message take out was excellent for Nintendo. 72% of respondents aware of the sponsorship stating the main message was ‘fun to play’, ‘for families’ or ‘an active game’. This demonstrated the effectiveness of the sponsorship in correctly communicating the main brand and product messages. The effectiveness research also showed that viewers aware of Wii’s sponsorship of Gladiators were 40% more likely to be inclined to purchase or ask for a Wii product in the future.

Meeting the Objectives

The broad audience appeal and extensive reach of the Gladiators brand, combined with Sky Media’s multiplatform approach, guaranteed a successful campaign for Wii. The choice of Gladiators delivered Nintendo’s message to exactly the right audience and the active nature of the programme was a perfect fit for a console based around physical interaction. The sponsorship creative, experiential and online elements were
able to convey clearly the breadth of games, its family orientation, its active nature and their ‘for everyone’ proposition.

Nintendo’s association with Gladiators was seen as a great success and the sponsorship has been renewed for the bigger, bolder and more demanding second series. Across the series almost ten and a half million people saw the Gladiators return to primetime TV 

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