TurboGrafx-16 @Software Etc.…
I stumbled across a training video for Software Etc. about "visual marketing" entitled 1001 Retailing Nights (1991, VHS). The video was actually more entertaining than I thought it was going to be.
Even though Sega's wares clearly dominate the video, TurboGrafx-16 gets a surprising amount of cameos.
One of the things that piqued my curiousity, for example, was the mysterious TG-16 placard seen in the video. The sign is probably simply promoting the price reduction of TG-16 to $99.99. Perhaps you can help discern the full text.
WHEN WAS THE RAW FOOTAGE SHOT? 1991, most likely. Although we do not know precisely when this training video was distributed (as a VHS cassette) across all of Software Etc.'s retail locations, we can attempt to date the raw footage itself, based on the hardware/software titles that are present (or noticably absent) and their prices.
More precisely, then, the scenes may have been filmed between May and August of 1991, since (a) the TG-16 console dropped to $99.99 during this period, (b) there is no mention of Super Nintendo, and (c) a few references to Sonic are present. However, the presence of Mario Andretti's Racing Challenge (PC, 08.20.1991) and Where in America's Past is Carmen Sandiego? (PC, 10.15.1991) suggest that the filming may have been closer to August of 1991. That said, it is possible that the aforementioned PC games were merely promotional items. That possibility, coupled with the lack of any references to Super Nintendo (SNES), makes me want to date the footage earlier.
Then and now…
As luck would have it, a fellow TG-16 aficionado recently acquired a TG-16 sign that is remarkably similar to the one featured in the Software Etc. training video.
SEAM: The seam between the "G" and "r" (in "Grafx") is in the same location on both signs.
SIZE & SCALE: Pamphlets, magazines and retail boxes (of varying sizes) are found in both images. Though imprecise, it suggests that the two signs are approximately the same size and scale. ▲
TROVE OF TG-16 TREASURES: It is difficult to ignore the mountain of TG-16 paraphernalia sprawled across the floor in the photo above. From left to right: gray extension cable (for TurboPad), Final Soldier (HuCARD), Space Invaders (HuCARD), Mr. Heli (HuCARD), TurboGrafx-16 Secrets, Club Turbo Catalog, TG-16 pamphlet, TurboGear pamphlet, TG-16 console instruction manual, various issues of TuroPlay, DuoWorld, TurboForce magazines, Shadow of the Beast fold-out poster. ▲
1001 Retailing Nights (1991, VHS, Software Etc.) ▲
WELCOME: The training video was filmed at an actual Software Etc. retail store in a shopping mall. A huge red placard at the entrance to the store advertises Sega's current console (Genesis) and portable (Game Gear). The security gate has not been fully raised and obscures two large signs—one sign for Sega's Genesis (Mega Drive) and the other for NEC's TurboGrafx-16 (PC-Engine). ▲
Needless to say, the title of this training video (and the presence of a female genie) was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). Unlike many corporate videos, 1001 Retailing Nights features an employee falling in love with (or, at the very least, lusting for) a female genie.
THE PLAYERS: The genie has a PhD in visual marketing. The president (at the time) of Software Etc. has red pants. And finally, Bob, the employee, has a nametag. Or is Bob a manager?
THE MYSTERY: This enigmatic TG-16 placard (yellow text on black sign) reads "TurboGr…" and, in a different font "Now Only"(?). ▲
During the video, Bob is standing directly in front of the sign and never shifts his body enough to reveal the other text on the sign. If you solve the mystery, I will hug you. Watch the video, maybe you can decipher the blurry text that we get fleeting glimpses of as Bob shifts his legs. If you solve the mystery, in addition to a heartfelt hug, I will award you ten points.
ANECDOTE: I do not recall ever seeing a sign like this before, but it certainly seems as if it was simply advertising a sale/promotion. We know that the TG-16 console is on sale for $99.99 elsewhere in the video, for example. This was a permanent price reduction by NEC to make the TG-16 competitive with Sega and Nintendo. ▲
CELEBRATION: Keen eyes will note that this is the only moment in the video where the signs are arranged (top to bottom) Nintendo, TG-16 and Genesis. The signs were typically (top to bottom): Genesis, TG-16. Later in the video, Nintendo occasionally occupies the lowest tier. ▲
HARDWARE ETC: TG-16 hardware shares a shelf with Atari Lynx. TurboExpress (regular price). TurboGrafx-16 console ($99.99 sale price sticker). How do we know this? The video clearly explains that regular-price stickers are fastened in upper-right corner of box, whereas the sale price stickers are placed in upper-left corner of product.
SOFTWARE ETC: A row of boxed TG-16 HuCARDs (left to right) includes Splatterhouse, Battle Royale, Bonk's Adventure, J.J. & Jeff, and TV SPORTS Football. All of the TG-16 software has sale stickers in upper-left corner.
CHALLENGE: If you can name all of the Lynx games sitting on the shelf above the TG-16 games, award yourself ten points. ▲
BEFORE: Signs askew. Crowded, messy counters. Disorganization.
AFTER: Nothing askew. Everything in its place. Organization at its most divine. ▲
ANECDOTE: Personally, I do not remember TG-16 logos plastered prominently behind the cash registers at Software Etc., Electronics Boutique, and other retail stores. Rather, most often, I recall encountering a quaint "wall" of TG-16 software with a handful of games spread out across a few shelves. The TG-16 hardware and peripherals were not typically shelved on the wall, but located in a nearby aisle. Naturally, your shopping experiences may have varied from mine… ▲
BLESSED BE THE RETAIL MANAGER: Abide by the scriptures set forth in 1001 Retail Nights and He will be pleased. ▲
This page is a WORK IN PROGRESS… ▲
For the most up-to-date information, please consult the TurboGrafx-16 @Software Etc. discussion at pcenginefx.com. Thank you for visiting!