There have been some weird branding mashups over the years but the MINI x Pokémon design hookup announced at Gamescom, the world's largest gaming festival, is one of the strangest yet. But I'd love to get behind the wheel of it.
The branding tie-up brings together the creature collecting Nintendo Switch game Pokémon with the new Mini Concept Aceman car. This is the all-electric version of the classic Mini Cooper, which has posed a bewildering urban design before. The unique collab was announced at Gamescom's Opening Night Live event, along with the new PS5 DualSense Edge controller.
In some respects the branding collaboration works – the new Mini Concept Aceman is an LED-packed, futuristic electric car that even has pixelated, animated front lights, bumper and grill. It looks like a video game in motion, in real life, so the tie-in is actually very clever. There's even a physical tie-in as you can opt for a Poké Ball for a steering wheel. Take a look at the video below.
The Pokémon side of things comes to life when you climb into the Mini Concept Aceman. The circular digital dashboard lights up with Pikachu, and lightning bolts illuminate the car – the whole inside of the car can be lit up and projected onto during this 'Experience Mode'. As you leave the car door, LEDs display the Mini x Pokémon branding, and it's really quite wonderful. Electric cars are truly offering designers new ways to get creative.
Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini Design, revealed that it's even possible to hook up a Nintendo Switch to the car – he was low on specifics but the Mini Concept Aceman also comes with a built-in projector (yes, really!) to beam films onto a wall, effectively turning this electric car into a mini, mobile drive-in cinema, so I expect you can use this to play Nintendo Switch games too, all from behind the wheel of the car.
Speaking to bmwblog Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI, said: “Gamification will play an increasingly important role in the MINI of the future and offer a unique experience for our customers. […] This is how we reach a whole new target group at Gamescom 2022, as an event for modern fandom, gaming and pop culture."
You can find out more about this unique electric car at the Mini Concept Aceman site, though it's unclear if the MINI x Pokémon design will be widely available. With a recent Apple car patent causing a stir (it's rumoured to be revealed in early 2023), traditional car brands may find they need a playful edge to get their brand recognised, and the MINI x Pokémon certainly has that. Although, I kind of think Mini has missed a trick – surely with a couple of letters rearranged they could have created a Mini Concept Pacman model?