Pokémon has become the first brand to unveil a full 2016 Super Bowl commercial, rolling out an extended version of its 20th anniversary spot that will run in a 30-second version on the Feb. 7 telecast.
Ad agency Omelet in Los Angeles created the ad, which was shot in Rio de Janeiro and explores the idea of training. (The owners of Pokémon video games and trading cards are considered "trainers," preparing Pokémon creatures for battle.) As previously reported, the spot—full of hidden Pokémon references—carries the tagline, "Train On."
The spot takes its visual cues largely from sports advertising. It has a Nike feel to it—until the final moments, when it becomes clear our young hero is waging much more fantastical kinds of battles. (Bonus points for excellent use of Pikachu in a scene toward the end.)
"For 20 years, the Pokémon world has inspired fans to train hard and have fun," J.C. Smith, senior director of consumer marketing at The Pokémon Company International, said in a statement. "This ad is reflective of that passion, and I can't think of a bigger stage to share this story than the Super Bowl."
The 30-second version will run near the beginning of the third quarter of Super Bowl 50.
Releasing Super Bowl ads early and in extended versions has become a popular strategy in recent years, ever since the 60-second version of Volkswagen's "The Force" went viral in the week leading up to the 2011 Super Bowl. (That ad also aired as a :30 on the game itself.)
Pokémon has gone a step further by striking a deal with CBS to have its new spot included—along with a behind-the-scenes look at its making—on a Feb. 2 special called Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials. (This ad doesn't deserve that qualifier, which makes its placement there even more of a coup.)
The ad is part of a yearlong campaign celebrating 20 years of Pokémon, in which time it has sold some 275 million video games and 21.5 billion TCG cards worldwide, and created an animated series spanning 18 seasons. More information about the anniversary can be found at Pokemon.com/20.
• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.