The Tamagotchi Issue
There are several ways that I can point out that Bandai America is having a difficult time promoting the Tamagotchi Connection product. Their current attempts at bringing the virtual pet to their audience is irking me, and I would like to address these problems and concerns before the Tamagotchi relives their own history.
For those of you that don't know, the Tamagotchi is the first virtual pet on the market. They were developed and sold originally back in 1996, but Bandai was not expecting the wave of demand that the new innovative technology faced. By the time Bandai DID have enough funding to produce many models of Tamagotchi, the boom had gone to bust, and Bandai was left in mounting dept with millions of unsold toys.
In 2004, a project was developed to return the pets to market. Takeichi Hongo was named the first Chief Tamagotchi Officer, “CTO”, and the Tamagotchi returned to the world as the Tamagotchi Plus. It later followed suit outside Japan, known as the “Tamagotchi Connection” in America, and the “Tamagotchi Connexion” in European countries.
With the rebirth of the product came a need to change their advertising. Instead of flashy advertising, it was instead chosen to work with children's magazines to advertise and review the Tamagotchi. In America, however, Bandai chose commercials on popular television programming such as Nickelodeon.
Now the Tamagotchi product is more stable and consistent. In Japan, however, the product has been given enough attention and demand that it has expanded greatly beyond prediction, which we shall discuss later. However, outside the Japanese borders, most of the population considers Tamagotchi a fad that died out some time in the 90's.
Bandai's advertising for the Tamagotchi continues on Nickelodeon, but only on extremely rare occasions. Nowadays, Bandai focuses more on relying on the Internet in order to get the message across about Tamagotchi. Unfortinutely, their strategy is not working, and the newest edition of Tamagotchi, the V4.5, is piling up on the shelves.
While Bandai Japan carefully advertises Tamagotchi within areas of the target audience, meaning things related to girls ages 9 through 12, Bandai America has not gone anywhere near these areas. While it is to be said that the Internet is a terrific resource to get information and learn about developing products, Bandai America has still yet to implement it correctly.
It appears that Bandai relies on TamaTalk.com in order to give Tamagotchi fans information about upcoming Tamagotchi products. However, this also limits the amount of people that actually learn something new about the pet. Rather than advertising on just one forum, Bandai should instead take into consideration promoting their product on other children's websites.
In fact, Bandai should consider promoting their Tamagotchi pets on kids' online communities. I can think of two right off the bat: Gaia Online, and Nicktropolis. Bandai should be constantly checking in on competition, and see what's becoming popular, so that they mad advertise their product accordingly. I also suggest bringing in the Deka Tamagotchi. These were massive Tamagotchi's that could be found in Japanese stores, where users could connect their Tamagotchi in order to make unique friends and earn special prizes. It would be nice to see Bandai use this idea when it comes to displaying their product at conventions, popular stores, and whatnot.
One thing I have noticed is that in almost every review or article mentioning the Tamagotchi brand, there is always some mention that Tamagotchi was “an old 90's fad”. There also seems to be constant moments where the writer asks, “Remember the Tamagotchi?”. I feel as though this throws people off into believing that Bandai is doing nothing but attempting to pull a dying fad from the grave, and gets people less interested. Please, find a way to say that Tamagotchi is a newer and better product than what it was previously.
I highly suggest showing off the Tamagotchi world a bit more. Many people seem to believe that Tamagotchi characters are nothing but pixels on the screen, and not developed characters rich with personality.
To do this, I suggest a dub of the anime and motion picture. In Japan, a 90-minute animated film was released on December 15, 2007, and a short animated series, with each episode only up to 2 minutes and 50 seconds in length (similar to Hamtauro), debuted shortly before. It would do Bandai plenty of good to have these dubbed and brought overseas. I would suggest continuing to work with Nickelodeon, or otherwise turn to Disney, as they have handled dubbing the Digimon series in recent years.
I might also suggest that when it comes to showing the fans the future of Tamagotchi, Bandai should have a consistent method of doing as such. In January, a new Tamagotchi, the V5 Familitchi, is to be released globally, and the majority of Tamagotchi fans learned this from the Japanese websites rather than hearing it from Bandai America themselves.
As far as the product itself goes, I am very proud of Bandai and their ongoing efforts to make the virtual pets more suitable for the global audience. Despite the changes between the Japanese and American pets, they mostly follow a similar formula, and they are just as enjoyable as the Japanese ones.
The only thing Bandai should do now is look over their colors and designs for the upcoming Version 5 release. Bandai America usually decks each Tamagotchi with tons of ridiculous and splashy colors in order to grab pre-teen girls' attention, and based on what I've seen, the V5 will be no exception. The design I've seen is absolutely UGLY. No offense, but couldn't you tone it down to a simple, solid color? And perhaps with a small pattern? Look more to the Japanese shell colors and designs, please. They're much easier on the eye.
I hope Bandai hears these concerns and takes into consideration a change in promoting the Tamagotchi Connection brand, in hopes of avoiding the same crash and burn from the 90's.