That Time Justin Beiber Pimped Nintendo 3DS

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It may be right after Christmas, but that doesn’t stop this from being a time to trade, to quote Andy Williams, “tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. The same can be said for video game fans, as it’s a time when video games are often a Christmas present. There is an exception to every rule, and here is Nintendo’s. This is a look back at one of the grossest product placements in the company’s recent history.

Say what you will about pop singer Justin Bieber, but back in 2011, his music burned up the charts and won over a legion of screaming tween girl fans. Plucked from YouTube obscurity by music producer Scooter Braun who gave him a record deal, and with the help of singers like Usher and Ludacris, he rose to the top of the pops.

2011 was also the debut year of the Nintendo 3DS. It is well-documented that the handheld struggled in its early months from a combination of lackluster launch software and a too-high price point of $249.99. It was that July when Nintendo famously slashed the system’s price down to $169.99, which was a can’t-miss proposition for the system’s holdout buyers. The situation would improve that holiday season with acclaimed releases like Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land, but something more had to be done to ensure mainstream success.

That Christmas season, Nintendo of America decided to push the 3DS’s fortunes by way of a music video for Justin Bieber’s collaboration with Mariah Carey on her classic song “All I Want for Christmas is You”. Only the music video for this particular version was one giant celebration of commercialization and the holiday shopping frenzy. Nintendo paid for the 3DS to have screen time in the most blatant form of product placement (skip to the 1:55 mark). Needless to say, it is cringe-inducing for any Nintendo fans watching their beloved handheld get pimped by a divisive teen heartthrob.

As the 3DS has matured comfortably in its handheld niche relative to a world of smartphones, just remember that the worst of Nintendo’s promotional efforts is over. In the last few years, gone are the celebrity endorsements as Nintendo retreats to safe, low-effort traditional commercials. Needless to say, it’s hard to say if the music video cameo did anything to help the 3DS’ fortunes. If you want any consolidation, Justin Bieber’s time in the sun is significantly dimmer now than it was four years earlier. It’s doubtful he’s even using his 3DS these days anyway.

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A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.