Wonder what videogame mascot would be chosen for the England football team? Probably Titanfall, Max Payne, Dead Space or Left For Dead… if their post-1966 World Cup success is anything to go by!
Adidas and Nintendo have teamed up to make Pokemon the official mascot for the Japanese football squad at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil this summer.
So what’s the thinking behind this seemingly strange mashup of soccer, videogaming, mascots, marketing and merchandising? Adidas Japan is the football kit supplier for the national team. Enough said.
As for Nintendo, well, we all know they are busy looking for additional revenue streams these days following their profits warning in January. Licensing off key properties like Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. for non-game related purposes gives Nintendo the time and space to develop a better strategy to cope with the gaming threat from smartphones and tablets, without affecting their core market.
Moreover, cute and colourful mascots have always been a big part of the beautiful game in Japan ever since the introduction of the professional football J. League in the early 1990s. The Nagoya Grampus football club, for example, have a family of cartoon killer whales as their mascots. And let’s face it, you don’t get more cute and colourful than Pikachu and his/her Pokemon pals.
In a spooky coincidence, even FIFA’s official mascot for this year’s World Cup bears an uncanny resemblance to Pokemon’s very own Sandshrew (see below).
Official FIFA World Cup 2014 Mascot – An Armadillo
Sandshrew – A Pokemon
Can you imagine what some of the British TV football commentators of yesteryear would have made of a pitchside-Pikachu back in their day?
“What’s that funny-looking yellow squirrel doing down on the touchline, Motty?”