Nintendo Ad Campaigns Retrospective

Play It Loud

Here is where the gloves came off and Nintendo wanted to distinguish themselves as a company that didn’t pander to little kids, but to the preteen and teen demographic. To do that, they used a song from the band The Butthole Surfers. Looking at the Super Power campaign, you can sorta see that they wanted to be radical, be rebellious, and just be the roudy kids in the block. With the Play It Loud campaign, they could finally do it. Pop culture was a heavy influence on this campaign, with hip-hop, rock, and grunge playing a major role in setting up the mood of these campaigns early on. If you look at the games on display in the video above, you’ll notice that there are third party games there too. The games themselves never utilized the Play It Loud campaign, but it showed that Nintendo saw that they were just as important in shaping the SNES as their own games were.

This campaign also saw the first calling out by Nintendo to SEGA with Donkey Kong Country. This was the perfect time too as the SEGA CD and 32X were being deemed failures and not very cost effective. So Nintendo capitalized by putting in their commercial that you didn’t need any extra add-ons for DKC. All you needed was your console and the game, and you’re ready to play. So far, I may be wrong, but this was the only time Nintendo would call out SEGA in their ads. Afterwards, it was back to business as usual with Nintendo pitching their console without naming names.

In a strange twist, the Play It Loud campaign tried going for that slight shock route near the end of its run. I mean sure you had a few commercials that stayed serious, but there were some that tried to play on that “videogames applied to real life” theme. More often then not, the result was this sort of juvenile zaniness that seemed comparable to other kids commercials at the time, like Fruit Roll-Ups and Super Soakers. The three I know of are the DKC3 commercial, which had a gorilla on a motorcycle and a woman that happens to be a monkey. The Kirby Super Star commercial where the kid is super inflated from “Playing too much Kirby.” And the most shocking of all, The Yoshi’s Island commercial you see up there. Nevertheless, this theme would find it’s way back to Nintendo commercials from time to time and culminate into some pretty memorable ads some years later.

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