Olympic champion sprinter and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, stars in a brand new commercial for Pokemon Sun and Moon. The Jamaican athlete, who holds several world records for his incredible speed, plays a member of Team Skull, the antagonist organization from Pokemon Sun and Moon that is known to steal Pokemon and generally cause trouble.
While Bolt doesn’t get up to any Pokemon stealing in the Japanese television commercials, he does seems to adapt to his Team Skull-membership status quite well. “Even in a Pokemon battle, I’m number one,” says Bolt in the first half of the advert, before adding “Yo, we meet again. Don’t think you can run away,” in the second. There are also a few puns based on his name and on Pikachu’s Thunderbolt ability. As the world for Bolt and and ‘volt’ are the same in Japanese (both are ‘boruto’), there is lots of room for wordplay.
The commercial is a bit of fun for the athlete, who is currently winding down his career and planning for retirement, though many Usain Bolt fans cannot believe that it has taken Nintendo this long to enlist him. Bolt’s nickname is ‘Lightning Bolt’ after all, and his signature celebratory move is the symbol of a lightning bolt too, so it’s a bit of a surprise that Nintendo didn’t make the connection between the athlete and electric-type Pokemon Pikachu sooner.
Some fans have even speculated that Nintendo has put out this commercial in an effort to hint at rumored Nintendo Switch Pokemon game, Pokemon Stars, which is said to be a new version of Sun and Moon. While the suggestion is a little far-fetched given that the advert doesn’t make any mention of the word ‘Star’ or of the Switch itself, fans have said that it’s unusual that Nintendo would release a commercial with such a high profile figure this many months after the initial release of Pokemon Sun and Moon. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the company to release this ad alongside the launch of those games?
It could just be that Nintendo is especially interested in promoting its systems and games with the use of athletes and that this is all part of one, comprehensive marketing plan. Earlier this week, Nintendo release a new commercial that saw John Cena playing the Nintendo Switch, so this Usain Bolt ad would be in line with that. Only time will tell though, so watch this space.
Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon are now available on Nintendo 3DS.