Awkward Advertising: JLS Wii Party

By Emma Clarke

Is it me or is there something unusual about the latest Wii Party commercial? Just what is being implied about habitual gamers? One thing’s for sure – JLS are a bunch of guys who certainly know how to enjoy themselves.

I love my Wii. I use it to tone my flaccid, lumpen body into some sort of shape almost every day. It’s almost pathetic the way I crave the approval of my Wii Fitness virtual personal trainer. My kids love it too. Even my husband likes to bowl. In fact, playing on the Wii is a great way to enjoy ‘family time.’ Wiis rock. FACT.

So, I was surprised to read that Wii sales have slipped below 50% market share for the first time this year. That’s gotta be worrying for Nintendo bosses, especially as retail sales this Christmas have a chilly forecast. So I guess that in planning for the main thrust of their Christmas marketing push, they knew they had to pull off something special.

Nintendo have chosen popular music boy-band combo JLS to be the celebrity faces of Wii Party; a fun-fest of mini-games to be enjoyed, collectively, at social gatherings. Players compete in all manner of games – balancing games, horse-racing, bingo, heck there’s even a hide and seek game.

JLS are the love-children of Simon Cowell and the general public. Yes, Reader, if you voted for them, you helped spawn them; as hugely successful X Factor 2008 finalists, they are the people’s popular music boy-band combo of choice. And they seem to be very nice, clean boys. The kind of boys who wouldn’t mind helping your dad wash the car on a Sunday morning. The kind of boys who’d be happy to listen to your mother talk about her menopause. The kind of boys for whom playing Wii Party is just another way to enjoy their bromance.

In short, JLS are the ideal endorsement choice for Nintendo’s products. On their website, their key qualities are listed as ‘raw talent, effortless charm, unfaltering focus and hard graft’ and it’s these noble characteristics that I’m guessing won Nintendo over. And boy, don’t these boys express their unfaltering focus and hard graft in this commercial.

The ad opens on the boys’ flat. (I’m guessing they co-habit). It’s very, very clean. They have a comfy, ample sofa, funky art, pot plants and a wall made of glass bricks, which, I imagine conceals a spotless kitchen-diner or perhaps a large Jacuzzi in which they relax after a hard night banging out game after game on Wii Party. They’re casually dressed in shorts and lounge pants – ideal apparel for a boysy night in.  Or maybe they’re at a sort of boarding school for reality TV pop stars. Perhaps they’re in the common room and Jamie Afro is about to come in with a tray of hot muffins.  A friend of mine actually suggested that they might be engaged in a traditional boys' boarding school game. Who can say?

The boys begin to play one of the Wii Party mini-games – ‘Chop chop.’ The object of the game is to chop a cartoon vegetable very, very quickly.

The boys start to chop. They’re pounding away for all they’re worth.

They grip the controls, curling their long, slim fingers around the firm, clean plastic. Their fists start to move rapidly up and down, quickly at first then going faster and faster, as desperation to reach the end first becomes a kind of quest. JLS get swept up in the moment, and the urgency builds towards a climax. There are clenched teeth. Rictus grimaces. Oritse groans. There’s even more frenzied pumping and then…THE JOY OF RELEASE! Suddenly it’s all over, the vegetable is chopped and JLS lie back on their clean-yet-laddish sofa, happy but spent, their nunchuks lying limp in their hands.

Reader, it looks for all the world as though they’re wanking.

Watch it. Just watch it.

It’s not just me, is it? Surely my mind isn’t that depraved. Others must think the same, right? While I love Wii products and I find JLS entirely inoffensive, whenever this ad comes on the telly, I can’t think about anything else but the Wii-wank. It seems to be such a strong metaphor somehow. When they’re Wii-ing, they’re wanking, which, you’ve got to admit, is multitasking at its best.

Seriously, Nintendo had better issue a warning that playing Wii Party cause repetitive strain injury that might be akin to medical conditions associated with excessive masturbation. At the very least, play Chop Chop and you’ll get one massive, muscly arm that might raise questions at family parties.

In the advertising world they say that sex sells, but solo sex? Let’s hope for Nintendo’s sake that’s a Wii bit true.

Wed, 08 Dec 2010 12:45 (GMT+00)
2 Responses

It plays on the massive screen outside Westfield, where I work. I swear, every time I walk past the advert I think exactly this, and often laugh out loud. I am so glad I'm not massively immature and that someone else noticed this.

Thu, 09-Dec-2010 10:13 GMT

It's interesting that they started with wanking and then proceeded with gifts. Sense of guilt?

Fri, 10-Dec-2010 07:16 GMT

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