The Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial Is Splendid & Here’s Why

In a 70 second video, Pokémon manages to remind you how it helped to shape a better version of yourself.

 Pokémon Super Bowl commercial

This is going to be a great year for Pokémon fans. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Nintendo, Game Freak, and pretty much everyone related to the beloved franchise, came up with something interesting to bring to the party. So far we have: monthly events announced all around the world, loads of fresh merchandise, console bundles paying tribute to the classics, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow coming to the 3DS this month, the possibility of a new main game being announced at any given moment, and Pokémon GO coming later this year. In case this feast wasn’t enough, last week The Pokémon Company International released on their YouTube Channel an extended version of the TV spot we will see during this year’s Super Bowl. If you still haven’t seen the video, take a look below. And if you have, watch it again. It’s worth it.

Almost instantly, the internet was overflowing with equal parts joy and hype. The commercial, infused with tons of references to the franchise, hit the perfect notes and was very well received by fans of all ages. As J.C. Smith, senior directive of Consumer Marketing at The Pokémon Company International, said:

“For 20 years, the Pokémon world has inspired fans to train hard and have fun, this ad is reflective of that passion, and I can’t think of a bigger stage to share this story than the Super Bowl.”

That lead us to our point here; this Pokémon commercial isn’t good or even “very good.” It is splendid.

 Pokémon Super Bowl commercial

Let’s be real here. Few names remain strong for 20 years straight, in any industry. Even Star Wars, which recently came back into the spotlight, was out of the mainstream scene for almost two decades. While it’s true that Pokémon saw a significant decrease in popularity after the launch of the anime and the subsequent “Pokémon Fever,”  it had always remained relevant in a least one field: video games. The popularity of the show faded off and merchandise slowly became more rare, but the core games of the Pokémon series have always been popular. From the original titles published on the Game Boy to the latest Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (which rank as the 3rd best selling titles for the 3DS), Pokémon games always rank high on “Best Games of the Year” lists. Pokémon needed to celebrate it’s anniversary on a high note, and they invited everyone to the party, including old school fans. From the very first second, the commercial is filled with references young and not-so-young will catch, like the legendary phrase “Like no one ever was” written on the team’s locker room, or the news regarding Snorlax blocking Route 12.

It’s not just the references, but the scenery itself is quite nostalgic during certain moments. The TV is airing news remarkably reminiscent of the stories around the time Pokémon came out, 1996. The whole spot pounds on some of the most popular premises within the series: Be better, work harder, and follow your dreams. This is shown in different ways, depending on the character and their background. The first kid is amazed by what he sees at the Pokémon battle and decides to follow his dream. The next girl utilizes strategy and proves to be a brilliant tactician, another quality heavily associated with Pokémon. The football player exudes hard work and ambition, aiming to be the best, “like no one ever was” I’d dare to say. The list goes on and on.

Another thing that caught my attention was how diverse the cast is. Even though we have no confirmed information about the characters we see, it’s clear that the spot is aimed not only at Japan, but the whole world. The first evidence is the spot itself. This is the first time that The Pokémon Company has decided to do something as audacious as to air a commercial during the Super Bowl. Fortunately, they did well by aiming at every kid around the world that grew up with Pokémon, no matter their country or social condition. We see a Latin boy open the video, then a blonde girl, followed by an African American young man, and finally, a Japanese fellow. It’s a celebration of the people of all ages and countries that play Pokémon, not focusing on their “target audience,” but on everyone who ever enjoyed what Pikachu and his friends taught them during childhood. No matter how your childhood was: If you had Pokémon, you can relate to the spot.

 Pokémon Super Bowl commercial

Also present in the video is the message of evolution, perhaps the most iconic element during the series. Here, evolution is presented as constant growth and change. There are always new challenges in life, and change is perpetual. Every character shows admiration and respect for what the previous has accomplished and the adversities they had to overcome, but adds “I can do that”, aiming to beat the current record and shake the status quo. Pokémon made this seem not a task doomed to fail, but a never-ending adventure, always with new challenges and twists ahead.

In a 70 second video, Pokémon manages to remind you how it helped to shape a better version of yourself. It showed why the franchise earned a place in the hearts of millions of people around the world, and why it’s core values go much farther than a few video games about monsters that could fit into pockets. Very few times in my life have I felt genuinely happy about a franchise’s anniversary, but this February, my heart is with The Pokémon Company. People who managed to continually inspire and entertain millions of people all around the globe and remind them that no matter how daunting, every task can be conquered.

Just remember: You can do that.

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About the Author

Gregory Vendramini

Translator, author, and piñata enthusiast. Greg currently writes about anime, videogames, and pop culture while working on his next books, "A Long Halloween Night" and "The Fifth Archangel". He avoids social media a little, but is very open to exchanging ideas through emails or comments. Or in person, if somehow you find his house in the woods and get past the cat guards.

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