In 2023, Pokémon is part of the fabric of our lives. It exists all around us, has for decades, and even if you’re not a fan you will at least know the basic premise.
They’re Pokémon! You catch em all! They fight, they faint, they go in a little ball, there are some kids, some of them (the Pokémon, not the kids) look like dinosaurs, some of them look like animals. You would know that much just be being alive in the 21st century, as you would have been exposed to the series, repeatedly, everywhere from the movie theatre to the supermarket to the clothes section of a department store.
Which is why it’s sometimes extremely fun to look back to the times we didn’t all know about Pokémon, and there are few examples better to illustrate this period of human history than this commercial (uploaded by Dinosaur Dracula, who found it on an old VHS), made for the US market in 1999 for the Pokémon trading card game’s launch in the market (the first video games, meanwhile, had only just been released in the US in late 1998):
How the hell are we going to market this to American kids?, you can hear the suits asking across a 90s boardroom table, before someone raises a hand and tentatively says like sports, they know sports, and everyone else cheers and slaps each other on the back and says you just bought yourself a raise, Thompson.
It’s not the worst idea! To its credit the commercial has aged extremely well, helped by the fact Pokémon still has an incredibly active tournament scene, and at no point is it ever embarrassed or afraid to embrace what it is. OK, maybe the “You got game” part has not aged well, but everything else has.
Note that this video isn’t new to the internet, but this particular version came to our attention because this is a much better quality upload than the first version you presently find in a YouTube search.