Do you like gorgeous supermodels? Super obvious product placement? Intense staredowns? Then Nintendo's latest three-minute ad for the 3DS handheld, starring Joel McHale of Talk Soup and NBC's Community, is exactly the cure for what ails you. More importantly, this is the mushroom boost Nintendo needs to get people talking about its products again.
In the video, a Nintendo spokesperson sits with McHale at a table inviting him to join Nintendo's 3DS campaign. McHale insists that if he's going to do a commercial, Nintendo will need to pull out all the stops.
Look, if I'm going to do a commercial, I don't want it to feel like a commercial, McHale said. I want this thing to be viral. Did you get me the baby panda?
He explains that he wanted to hold it down and make it sneeze, as in another viral video we know.
Look, whatever we shoot, I want it to feel organic, McHale demands. I want it to be homegrown, and I want it to be raw and real, all right?
At that point, two hair and makeup artists come in. When the Nintendo spokesperson brings up how he's contradicted his previous statement, McHale gets in an uproar.
How dare you, these are my friends, McHale shoots back. They just happen to be a hair and make-up artist. It's like if you had a masseuse as a friend and they saw a kink in your shoulder, they would work it out for you. They care about you. Scram.
The scene is followed by attempts at obvious product placement, comparing the colorful 3DS models to equally colorful bikini-clad supermodels, and ends with one hilarious moment:
I'm not a sellout, McHale says as he grabs the Nintendo spokesman's shirt. The next shot shows McHale, wearing a mushroom crown and a sash that reads Mushroom King, standing next to the supermodels and two actors in giant Mario in Luigi costumes. They all shout: Buy Nintendo 3DS now!
The commercial may be a bit long, but Nintendo is probably using it as an introduction to Joel McHale as the celebrity spokesman for the Nintendo 3DS. Good news for Nintendo: It works.
Nintendo needs a jolt of energy, and using a good-looking, sharp-tongued comedian is a great start. Nintendo's innovative edge is still its best asset, but the company loses to Microsoft and Sony in the marketing game. Big time.
Nintendo can no longer wait to release first-party franchises like Mario and Metroid if it is to stay afloat. With competition coming in from all angles, including traditional consoles and mobile devices -- Nintendo needs to rely on funny, intelligent marketing that promotes its best asset.
Nintendo first showed real signs of fading in October, when the company announced its first-ever annual loss, reporting net losses of about $926 million. Revenue fell by about 41 percent to $2.84 billion, and Nintendo also slashed its full-year profit forecast from 35 billion yen to 1 billion yen. There's nothing necessarily wrong with Nintendo's products, but users have forgotten what made the Wii and 3DS special in the first place: There's nothing else like them.
Nintendo especially needs help marketing its 3DS, which was plagued by rumors of eye damage for quite some time. The company tried price cuts to get the 3DS into more hands, but the damage was already done. Now, Nintendo will look to McHale to boost morale about the brand by specifically targeting Nintendo's main audience: young, casual gamers with a sense of humor about what they play.
Normally, I think it would have been understandable if Nintendo experienced a kind of trauma with regard to the whole 3D genre, said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. But Nintendo continued to doggedly make attempts in 3D technology. And you can say that those attempts have now finally borne fruit.
Nintendo has always been about revolutionizing the gaming experience, but it now must look at how that experience is being promoted. Advertisements can make or break a company, and luckily, Nintendo has had success with previous titles. Nintendo needs to get some edge back into its PR to avoid becoming a kiddie company, and the irreverent Joel McHale is just the right man for the job. Look for follow-up commercials -- 30 second ads that could fit into a TV slot -- with McHale and his colorful 3DS models.