Nintendo did something amazing this weekend. No, it didn’t manage to suddenly make the Wii U profitable. It launched its first Super Bowl ad. During Super Bowl LI, a 30-second spot extolled the virtues of the Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was an opportunity to show what the new console is all about within a brief period of time. The question is, did it do a good job of it? In a way.
See, Super Bowl ads are very brief. You have a short window of opportunity to pack in a lot of information. Which doesn’t work in the Switch’s favor. You need to convey as much as you can in an appealing way. In this way, the Switch Super Bowl ad worked rather well. There wasn’t a lot of text, which would have forced people to constantly keep up. Just a subtle announcement at the end with the launch date and image of everything you get in the box. Mentioning the price would have been helpful, but this was more about introducing the system as a whole in a positive way.
The Switch Super Bowl was a very visual piece that offered something of a storyline, which was another bonus. A man wakes up and immediately begins playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in bed. He takes it to the kitchen and continues his journey while he cooks. Once that’s done, he puts the Switch in its dock and continues the Hinox boss fight on the big screen with the Switch Pro Controller. While this doesn’t do a good job of showing the Switch can be played anywhere, not just within range of the dock, it does show the visual quality remains consistent in both modes. It also shows off the optional Pro Controller during the most crucial portion of the man’s gameplay session, subliminally suggesting someone might want the better peripheral for intense moments. It’s a subtle, yet promising, peek at something you might want in your life.
But, the Switch Super Bowl ad’s greatest success might be as a springboard to the commercial’s superior extended cut. Both versions of the ad went live on YouTube on February 1, 2017. While the 30-second ad has the benefit of having aired during the Super Bowl and getting over 870,000 views on YouTube in under a week, the almost two minute ad has been watched over 3.5 million times. This video is a far better example of what the Switch is capable of and will offer immediately after launch. It covers every possible base. While the Super Bowl ad is interwoven into it, it acts as a springboard for all of the other events we’re seeing in action.
The superior, extended ad shows off everything Nintendo wants us to know about the Switch. Best of all, it does it by doing. There’s no need for words. We see how family-friendly it is at the 13 and 48 second marks. People are goofy and active at the 25 and one minute, 21 second points. It even covers more competitive and serious gameplay at the one minute and one minute, 15 second segments. Also, most of the experiences the people in the commercial are enjoying are happening away from their homes. They aren’t in front of TVs. They’re at parties, doing laundry, outside of class, and playing all of these console games untethered. We watched them play not only The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but Arms, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, 1-2 Switch, and Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.
I think that Nintendo’s Switch Super Bowl ad did undeniably well. The brief ad offered a look at the most important points. It showed us that this is a new system that can be played in your home or on the go and will have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild available. We saw that these two things will be there for us at launch. It encouraged us to explore more, which would lead us to the substantially larger commercial that covered additional games and offered more scenarios in which we could enjoy the Switch. After watching these two videos, you can’t help but be excited. That’s exactly what Nintendo needs.