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Nintendo has invested big money to run an ad during the upcoming Super Bowl event to celebrate 20 years of Pokemon – be it the action figures, the trading cards, the television cartoon or the handheld and console video games. The ad is only a minute long and doesn't show any games or gameplay footage whatsoever.
Game Informer estimates that Nintendo may have spent upward of $8 million to produce the minute long spot and that it could end up being a risky move for the company. You can watch the ad to see why.
The ad starts with a young boy in what looks like India, watching a couple of Pokemon battle it out. He begins to train because he believes he “can do that”. This inspires a young girl watching on a television screen to play a series of chess matches against a smorgasbord of opponents. Making quick moves and beating the competition. An Easter Egg Nidoking is quickly glimpsed amongst the chess pieces in the snippet.
The ad moves on to a young football player watching the chess match on the screen who then inspires his team to go out and play hard, with another Easter Egg above the locker room reading “Like No One Ever Was”, a line from the television show's popular intro. The ad ends in Japan, with a Pokemon trainer seeing the football player on a giant ad that asks “Can he be defeated?” and the trainer quietly and confidently says... “I can do that.”
The ad shows the trainer throwing a pokeball onto the field as a father and son watch from the comfort of their couch while Pikachu watches the TV screen. The father quietly whispers to his son... “You can do that.”
The ad fades out with an advertisement to a Pokemon20.com website where it provides information about two decades of the brand bridging across video games, television series, trading cards and movies.
The reaction to the ad on the YouTube page is nothing but positive. A lot of gamers, fans and Pokemon enthusiasts were thrilled with the spot.
On the Game Informer page the enthusiasm wasn't quite as bright. There were some salient points about the purpose and aim of the ad. For some of them, they questioned what exactly is the ad trying to say, sell or promote?
It's true that the goal of the ad is a little muddled. Is Nintendo trying to sell Pokemon games? They haven't had trouble with that before. Are they selling hardware? The Nintendo NX hasn't been officially announced yet and I doubt it would come during the Super Bowl weekend. Is it just to raise brand awareness? I suppose that makes some sense for the 20th anniversary but it's not like Pokemon has waned enough to warrant a multi-million dollar TV ad to generate hype.
I suppose if the commercial was a bit more focused, like on Pokemon GO or Pokken Tournament, I think it may have been more effective. But as it stands it just seems to be a reminder that the popular pocket monster franchise has turned 20-years-old.