Retrogaming and TV Commercials:
by Kevin Steele
Nostalgia sells – just look at the number of nostalgia shows on TV, such as “That 70’s Show,” “I love the 80’s,” and more. As the “arcade generation” grows older and our earning power grows, nostalgia becomes a powerful marketing tool as well.
A recent influx of commercials themed on classic video games seems almost inevitable in hindsight, and yet it has been a pleasant surprise to catch a glimpse of a classic video game or theme while channel surfing. Here are a few retrogaming-themed commercials that have recently been shown...
“Asteroids” by Hummer
Big. Aggressive. Unbeatable. These are the key points of this retrogaming commercial, which opens with a standard, if somewhat boring, game of Asteroids. (Note: as a retrogamer, I have to cringe at the player’s lack of “skillz,” but hey, it’s just a commercial!)
Anyway, back to the “plot” – suddenly, the familiar sound of an incoming small saucer is heard, but instead of the familiar saucer shape we see a silhouette of a Hummer. It goes straight for the player, whose shots prove useless against the bright oncoming vector outline.
The player’s ship quickly turns and flees, with the Hummer hot in pursuit. Cut to exciting real shots of the Hummer racing along desert highways.
I guess Asteroids is a good theme for the Hummer SUV, based on the “Humvee” personnel vehicle used by the US military. Still, the commercial seems to be giving the wrong message to me: If you want to be a big, indestructible aggressor, buy this SUV.
Of course, I’m not an SUV man myself, so I may not be the target audience. Still, it frightens me to think that any portion of the US population would think along these lines…
“Pinball Fantasy” by Ford UK
Now this is more like it! A truly dizzying tour-de-force in computer graphics puts the Ford Fiesta auto into a pinball machine, bouncing and dashing about while racking up massive points.
Um...that’s about it for the plot, but honestly, who needs more?
Okay, this one really nails the feeling of playing pinball. Things bouncing around, lights flashing, and bleeping, binging sounds all to a rock music background. The imagery is amazing, and I just want to go play pinball every time I see this commercial.
(Click here if you'd like to see a larger video of this commercial, thanks to Beam TV)
There's also a very interesting "making of" article online about this commercial that details the extensive amount of work that went into creating it. I've got to hand it to them — the results are absolutely stunning, and it really seems to have been created by someone who understands and loves pinball.
Heck, the commercial even makes the Ford Fiesta look good!
“Pacman” by Saturn
A Saturn Vue pulls out of a driveway to a road filled with floating white dots. “Power Ups” appear down the road, in the form of a rotating grocery cart, a child with a giant purple alligator, sporting goods, and a child with a soccer ball.
Each power up fills another section of the vehicle ’s interior. After all the dots and Power Ups are collected, the car returns home.
Yet another car commercial, yet this one really infuses the video game aesthetic with the day-to-day grind. Dashing around endlessly picking up things — yeah, that’s what my life feels like sometimes. With the exception of the fact that the car should be yellow, the commercial is true to the spirit of Pac-Man and the target audience of anyone who spends their day running errands.
I have to admit that I really like the fact that retrogaming is showing up on the pop culture radar these days. You almost get the feeling that retrogamers are gaining a bit of “street cred” (or at least some sort of visibility!) While it’s a bit disappointing to be targeted by advertisers, this sort of presentation makes the marketing message go down a bit easier.
Now if they’d only use Robotron in a commercial…
Seen any other retrogaming commercials? Email Me.