Pokémon is going to the Super Bowl. Nintendo is announcing plans to show a 30 second commercial celebrating #Pokemon20 at the start of the football game’s third quarter.
After a round of 2015 Super Bowl commercials launched several mobile games to new levels of success, it’s no surprise that publishers are starting to eye the opportunity as well. Yet few likely expected the first to throw their hat in the ring to be Nintendo. Today Nintendo announced that they’ll be running a 30 second Pokémon commercial during Super Bowl 50, publishing an extended version of the commercial to Youtube.
The Pokémon commercial will not be advertising a new game, or even a product in general. Rather, the commercial will be a brand awareness focused video celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise. Touting the tagline, “Train On.” the 110 second full commercial offers an empowering message, albeit targeted towards younger audiences, about working towards your goals. The positive message offers a correlation between Pokémon and real-life activities like football and chess, implying the meaningful ways even game like Pokémon can effect us all.
Despite the heart shown in the commercial, the heart of the matter is it’s still a commercial. The subject of the matter is #Pokemon20. #Pokemon20 is a year-long event celebrating all things Pokémon, with monthly Mythical Pokémon distributions starting in February, a special edition 3DS bundle with both Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, and all manner of card, movie and toy-related excitement. It may not be an advertisement for a new Pokémon game, but it may as well have been.
Yet despite the commercialization surrounding #Pokemon20, and of course the commercialization that embodies the Super Bowl and its advertising, the Pokémon Super Bowl is almost touching, and definitely inspiring. It holds a very human message, despite being about a video game franchise of collecting and battling imaginary creatures. Compared to the mobile game Super Bowl commercials of 2015, which focused on advertising other assets, it’s exciting to see what Nintendo has done with this idea.
Does Pokémon necessarily have anything to do with football? It’s a stretch. And does Nintendo spending what’s likely to be millions of dollars on a Pokémon brand awareness advertisement become justified because it’s relatable? That’s probably unreasonable, too. Yet it’s comforting as a game player to see games being shown during the biggest television event of the year in a mature and respectful way. Such a thing is a rarity these days. I think Iwata would approve.
Nintendo’s 30 second Pokémon commercial for the Super Bowl will air at the start of the game’s third quarter on February 7. The game start at 6:30 PM EST, so don’t expect the commercial to air until a good hour or two later. And keep in mind that the commercial will just be a shorter cut of the full video made available today, so don’t feel pressured into watching the big game just for a Pokémon commercial.