Ever since Mario Bros. was released as an arcade game in 1983, the world has been fascinated by its two main characters – Mario and Luigi – two Italian-American plumbers investigating strange creatures that have been appearing in the New York sewers.
It is one of the few video games to not only become the hallmark of the console it is played on (Nintendo) but has also been referenced by brands, artists and comedians as a way to reach their audience.
Here are just a few examples:
Super Mario Kart – Remi Gaillard
Remi is a Frenchman who performs funny stunts (think of a one man version of Jackass) and here he takes the Super Mario Kart theme to the next level by bringing it into the real world.
Pixels & Bricks: Post-It Donkey Kong
This is a brilliant use of a quite ordinary looking location in Raleigh, USA. The end result is an animation using Post-It notes.
The Super Mario Theme – Greg Patillo beatboxes whilst playing flute
Hikakin Beatboxes the Super Mario Music
Super Mario meets Street Art
This was done as part of a degree and is a neat way of taking the ordinary (a street wall) and projecting the virtual (the Super Mario Bros. game) onto it.
I think the reason the game has done so well is because it was one of the first games to appear when consoles were released. As technology has improved, so have the quality of the games (compare Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo NES with Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the Nintendo Wii). Super Mario fans have the element of nostalgia when they play earlier games but can easily switch to the contemporary versions if they want.
If you look at brands that have done this effectively over the years, Coca-Cola, LEGO and Apple have to be some of the few who have done this well. They have been around for years and this instills loyalty in their consumers. What is interesting is that with Coca-Cola and LEGO, the product has pretty much remained the same. With Apple, there have been drastic changes over time. Not all customers are the same; some want change, others want stability.