Have you ever seen an advertisement on television or on a billboard that makes no sense or has little relation to the product it’s advertising?
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 which cause reactions like, “WTF did I just see?!” or “Huh?”.
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 an 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 (or Dreamcast as I knew it) 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’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 that there was mathematics 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.
What strikes me as odd is that many of the ads 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, people 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 adults aren’t privy to, so…why not make an ad featuring a creepy baby, that’ll speak 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 (many of which included rapping – the kids do love their rap music after all!), the Killer Instinct commercial (US), the 1993 Sega ad and the PS3 Kevin Butler commercials.
What’s your favourite video game commercial? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, remember what we’ve been taught, life is too short, do the math and be careful, avoid jam sponge cakes and don’t let your grandma eat worms…or Sega will suck your eyeballs out.