Last night at the closing ceremonies for the Rio Games, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the proverbial hosting baton by emerging from a giant green warp pipe dressed as Super Mario. The Internet, predictably, exploded, and the rest of the world was given a peek at just what kind of Nintendo and manga-flavored fun awaits us at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. It also gave Nintendo stock a 3.5% bump.
Abe and the Tokyo organizing committee leaned heavily on the country's cultural contributions—Mario, manga, along with other video game and anime characters—but the signature moment was a massive nod to a single brand, getting Nintendo some much-needed love since its recent stock rise-and-dive over who made Pokemon Go. It'd be like if the U.S. president dressed up as Captain America in Tokyo to welcome everyone to Los Angeles in 2024.
Nintendo isn't an official Olympic sponsor, and by the looks of how things are shaping up for Tokyo 2020, it won't need to shell out the $200 million to become one in order to get that five-ring halo companies like Coke, McDonald's, Samsung, Visa, and more pay good money for. If they got the Prime Minister to dress up as Mario now, can you imagine what Tokyo will be like? Olympic venues named after Pokemon Battle Arenas? Athlete uniforms designed by Mario and Sonic?
For its part the brand says it isn't officially associated with the 2020 Games and won't be a sponsor, but no doubt is evaluating its creative opportunities for the Tokyo Games after the world's response to its unofficial cameo.