Tuesday, 17 November 2015

12 Of The Most Bizarre Video Game Commercials

Originally written for Forces of Geek and published on Friday 6th November 2015

Have you ever seen a commercial on television or an advertisement on a billboard that makes no sense or has little relation to the product it's supposed to promoting? Chances are you probably have, the world of advertising can be a little weird sometimes, but it's also incredibly likely that some of the nonsensical ads you've witnessed include ones for video games or consoles. They are some of the most surreal, unnerving and confusing commercials I've come across. It's no wonder many parents think games are a bad influence when the companies advocating them often create ads that generate reactions like, "WTF did I just see?!" or "Huh?".

It's important to bear in mind that when I was growing up, there were no game trailers and all my information about games came from commercials or magazines, they were important. Though looking back at some of them, I'm amazed I wasn't subliminally manipulated into buying games (or more likely hassling my parents for them)...or was I?

Here are some of my most favourite bizarre video game ads:

NES "You Cannot Beat Us" (Australia)

After this, I really don't think I want to beat them. Maybe this explains why I was part of the Sega camp in the early console wars? I feel as though I might have been brainwashed to do something terrible after witnessing this. Sorry Australia...you can keep your NES commercial along with all your giant spiders and murderous snakes. I don't need them.

Super Smash Bros. N64 Commercial

Aww, I love this song and hey look, it's Pikachu with Mario? and Yoshi and Donkey Kong are there too?! All my favourite, colourful, cute Nintendo characters in one game! Oh man this is going to be awesome..oh wait, what? Why are they fighting? They're fighting!? Ooh, that's it, kick him! Kick him TO THE GROUND!

PlayStation "Double Life" (Europe)

Wow, I'm part of an underground group of people who live multiple lives. I'm like an undercover agent or something. I must seem so cool. Look how gritty and real we all are. Yeah, gamers do have double lives. We're the best. Thanks PlayStation. I will buy all of your games now.

Xbox "Life Is Too Short"

Wooooah! This commercial goes deep. Life is too short, that's why I need to spend as much time as possible in my house playing games. I'ma need a new Xbox mum. Thanks. 

Except, I saw this commercial way after it was released because it was banned in the UK. Boo!

PS3 Baby Commercial

Um, I don't even...

I can imagine the brainstorming meeting for this, after hours and hours of throwing random words together, the marketing guru suddenly stands up and has their eureka moment, "That's it guys, I got it, a creepy crying doll!". Everyone in the boardroom is so stunned or freaked out that they just go with it. 

Nintendo Earthworm Jim

Granny, why are you eating worms? Aren't you telling us all about Earthworm Jim and isn't eating those worms like eating his family? Are you the devil grandma?! Oh, right. You are.

Sega Saturn (US)

Perhaps the reason that the Saturn didn't do so well is because we were all terrified it would suck our eyeballs out. Well done, Sega marketing team!

PSP Jam Sessions Sponge Cake (Australia) 

*This video is very NSFW*

Only Australia could come up with this beaut. Not only is this child so spoilt one of his friends is rich enough to buy him a frickin' game for his birthday but it causes him to throw a rockstar tantrum at his mum who lovingly baked him a cake. What a little jerk.

Atari Ice Hockey

ARE YOU READY?! You better damn well be ready, kids. Phil Hartman is! 

The Legend Of Zelda Majora's Mask (US)

Minimal game footage, a depressing storyline and the feeling that maybe this time Link can't the world? The Majora's Mask trailer was dark. Filmed in a documentary style, this end of the world countdown ad didn't exactly make anyone feel excited for the game...just confused and sad.

Atari Jaguar

Atari's ad for the Jaguar had the idea that if you keep shouting at us, we will buy your product. Sadly, it didn't work out all that well, despite the fact maths was involved and everything. One thing's for sure, this lady is scary.

PlayStation 2 "Welcome To The Third Place" Dir:  David Lynch

What do you get when you ask David Lynch to create a commercial for a games console? Answer: A dystopian nightmare where you find yourself unable to move and parts of you fly off and lead you to a bizarre room with a couch full of unusual characters. Now you know.

What strikes me as odd is that many of the commercials I've mentioned were created during a time when the only way to find out about a new game was through commercials on television or in dedicated magazines that cost more than a month's pocket money so, why on Earth did the marketing teams for these companies make the decisions they made? 

I mean, what were they thinking?! Perhaps they felt it was the only way to reach out to the teenage demographic that all marketers are so keen to absorb (something I've always found odd considering this demographic has literally no money!), after all, adults in marketing don't understand the youth of today because they're weird and difficult to understand and they have new-fangled words for things that we're not privy to, so...let's make an ad that speaks to them?! 

That said, I suppose that since then, the games industry has become a multi-billion* dollar industry so perhaps they were on to something?

Other commercials I didn't add to this list but definitely deserve a mention are the commercials for Joust, Battletanx, Final Fantasy IV, the Sega Saturn 'Segata Sanshiro' ad campaign, the French Resident Evil 4 ad for the GameCube, any of the other The Legend Of Zelda ads (they just loooove rapping), the Killer Instinct Commercial (US), the 1993 Sega ad and the PS3 Kevin Butler commercials. 

What's your favourite video game advertisement or commercial? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, remember what the commercials taught us, life is too short so be careful, avoid jam sponge cakes and don't let your grandma eat worms or Sega will suck your eyeballs out.

*probably...you can do the maths, think of it like an interactive article where you get to do some of the research for me. Thanks guys, you're the best readers!

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