Fils-Aime at the Game Developers Conference in 2011
March 25, 1961
|Residence||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
Cornell University (2019-present)
Reginald Fils-Aimé (// FEE-sə-may; born March 25, 1961) is an American businessman, most recognized as the former president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, the North American division of the Japanese video game company Nintendo, from 2006 to 2019. Prior to his promotion to President and COO, Fils-Aimé was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Fils-Aimé gained celebrity status among gamers following his appearance at Nintendo's E3 2004 press conference in May 2004, and helped to revitalize Nintendo's image as a major contender among the other video game console makers, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft. In addition, Fils-Aimé had held previous sales and marketing executive roles at Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut, Guinness, Derby Cycle, Panda Express, and VH1.
Fils-Aimé retired as president of Nintendo of America on April 15, 2019 after an announcement on February 21 and was succeeded by Doug Bowser. He subsequently become a Leader in Residence at Cornell University.
Reggie Fils-Aimé was born to Haitian immigrants, who immigrated to the United States due to the conflicting political views of his grandparents. ("Fils-aimé means "beloved son" in French.) His paternal grandfather was a general in Haiti in the 1950s when the Haiti military overthrew the democratically elected government, which included his maternal grandfather. Reggie's mother worked in retail and is a lead sales representative in a jewelry store as of 2007 and his father is a retired mechanic.
He was born in The Bronx and graduated from Brentwood High School in Suffolk County, Long Island and was accepted to Cornell University in 1979. While at Cornell, he was president of the school's Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity chapter. He earned a Bachelor of Science in applied economics in 1983.
Fils-Aimé took a job at Procter & Gamble in the company's brand management program. He also took a position as Senior Director of National Marketing at Pizza Hut, where he launched the Bigfoot Pizza and The Big New Yorker.
Fils-Aimé served as the Head of Marketing for Guinness Imports Co. in the United States and was responsible for all brands. He also worked as Chief Marketing Officer at Derby Cycle, directing sales and marketing efforts worldwide for eight brands. Fils-Aimé served as Managing Director and oversaw Raleigh U.K., Derby's British operations.
He then joined the American Chinese food company Panda Management Co. acting as Senior vice-president. He also joined MTV's VH1 network in 2001 as Senior vice-president and left in 2003. Fils-Aimé was responsible for a 30% increase in ratings for the VH1 network by shifting the channel's focus to appeal to younger viewers. As part of his role at VH1, Fils-Aimé also laid out and implemented a marketing strategy for The Concert for New York City, which garnered more than $35 million for disaster relief following the September 11 attacks.
Coming off his success at VH1, Fils-Aimé joined Nintendo in December 2003 as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He was responsible for all sales and marketing activities for Nintendo in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. On May 25, 2006, Fils-Aimé became the President and Chief Operating Officer of Nintendo of America after former president, Tatsumi Kimishima, was moved to his new role as Chairman of the Board and chief executive officer. Fils-Aimé was the first American to hold this position.
Fils-Aimé's presence in Nintendo was highlighted during Nintendo's press conference at the 2004 E3. The year prior, Nintendo's press conference was considered a quiet and dry affair compared to the conferences given by Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment; while Nintendo worldwide president Satoru Iwata and other Japanese executives were present, the only American on stage was George Harrison and had remained stoic during the conference. Nintendo was also losing in the sixth console generation. The GameCube was struggling against the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox console, and long-time Nintendo fans were despondent over Nintendo's current state. Fils-Aimé, hired after the 2003 conference, served to lead off the 2004 conference as his first introduction to the public. He led off the conference with "My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games." His presentation was considered aggressive, and at one point directly attacked the approaches that Microsoft and Sony were taking with handling of video game content on their consoles. His theatrical antics, flying in the face of Nintendo's long-standing conservative image, gained a cult following soon after, with many gamers calling him the "Regginator", a play on the character of the Terminator.
Following the conference, many images of him spread across the Web. In interviews years after the 2004 event, Fils-Aimé said that his presentation was not his idea, but writing from the public relations department, and he himself had to be convinced to give the aggressive approach. Fils-Aimé's presentation was considered by others the right attitude that Nintendo needed to present at the time to show themselves still relevant in the current console generation and was no longer taking a conservative approach to gaming.
Fils-Aimé is considered to be responsible for revamping Nintendo's public relations in North America, leading many fans and members of the press to dub his arrival the "Reggielution" (after "Revolution", the code name for the Wii). He had not only considered the constantly-changing challenges of marketing to youth, but as well as continuing to address the older video game players, who were still a key market for Nintendo. He further believed that addressing all demographics would be like a rising tide for the industry with Nintendo positioned to capture that the best. While still in sales, Fils-Aimé rewrote how Nintendo worked with vendors; instead of having Nintendo try to seek vendors' favor and better in-store place by assuring Nintendo could meet demand, Fils-Aimé created agreements where vendors would only get Nintendo's stock in stores if vendors ordered high volumes of their product. This served to help with the success and popularity of the Nintendo DS. He has attributed the success of the Wii to a marketing strategy laid out by Clayton Christensen:
First, how do you satisfy the core while still expanding appeal? And second, how do you leverage your strengths against entirely untapped audiences--to the so-called "blue oceans" in popular marketing speak? ... Provide a new product that actually underperforms on an established industry metric for "progress," and substitute an alternative that typically is smaller, less expensive and easier to use. Initially, the "core" of any industry will scoff. But if the product is right, enough new users will be attracted to form an alternative definition for progress.
On July 11, 2007, while introducing the Wii Balance Board, Fils-Aimé walked up onto the stage and stated “My body…My body is ready.” This quotation would eventually become a meme and Reggie acknowledged the phrase several times, including at the E3 2012 conference, his appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and his resignation announcement video. When Iwata implemented their Nintendo Direct online press conferences, Fils-Aimé would frequently participate in these alongside Iwata, including a mock Mii-avatar battle, which similarly became the subject of several memes. In other public press presentations for Nintendo, Fils-Aimé has been involved with skits with production support from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, Mega64, and The Jim Henson Company.
On November 5, 2007, at the encouragement of marketing professor Ed McLaughlin in the department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, Fils-Aimé gave a guest lecture on Nintendo's marketing strategy targeted at gamers across a spectrum of demographics. Fils-Aimé is a member of the Advisory Council for Cornell's Communication department.
Fils-Aimé announced his resignation as the company's president and COO on February 21, 2019, which took effect on April 15, 2019. He was replaced by the company's then-head of sales, Doug Bowser.
Fils-Aimé announced he had brought on as a Leader in Residence at Cornell University's Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management starting in October 2019. In addition, Fils-Aimé joined the board of directors for the New York Videogame Critics Circle, and became a managing partner in Brentwood Growth Partners, an equity firm based in Kirkland, Washington. Though his positions at Cornell and through the New York Videogame Critics Circle, he wants to provide mentorship opportunities for youth and young adults as to encourage them to grow and become "leaders across a range of as many different disciplines as possible".
Fils-Aimé is married to Stacey Sanner, his longtime girlfriend whom he met in his previous position at VH1. He has three children from a previous marriage. Fils-Aimé started playing video games with his children when they were 2 and 5 years old. As of 2006[update] he lived on the Eastside of Seattle.
- Clio Award
- Two Gold EFFIEs
- AICP Award for advertising excellence
- Silver Edison from the American Marketing Institute
- Named one of the "Marketing 100" by Advertising Age in 1998
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- Knoop, Joseph (September 1, 2019). "Former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime to Teach at Cornell University". IGN. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
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- "Stacey Sanner; About the author". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
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