Renault Brazil drops long-anticipated live-action commercial based on popular early 80s cartoon
Even if one didn’t follow Games of Thrones, it’s impossible to miss that a significant number of the people who did are, shall we say… upset that the series did not end in a satisfactory manner. Those who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons in the early 80’s may be inclined to sympathize for GoT was not the first fantasy show to do that.
The first episode of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon aired on CBS in 1983. It ran for three seasons with 27 episodes through 1985. It was centered around six kids ranging from 8 to 15 years old who had passed through a magical portal on a carnival ride only to discover themselves transported to a fantasy world with… well, dungeons and dragons along with other monsters from the role-playing game. Within the show, this world was known as The Realm.
Upon their arrival, the kids were dressed as player character classes from the game; Hank the Ranger (think Strider/Aragorn from Lord of the Rings), Eric the Cavalier, Diana the Acrobat, Presto the Magic User, Sheila the Thief and her little brother, Bobby the Barbarian. No sooner had they arrived then they immediately encountered their primary adversaries through the series, the demonic Venger and the Queen of Evil Dragons, the multi-headed Tiamat. But, they also met Uni, the comic-relief/plot hook unicorn colt and the Dungeon Master who provided them with (non-lethal weapons (it WAS a kids’s cartoon)) and equipment along with sometimes-cryptic advice.
Momentary Nerd Alert
For those who might be completely unfamiliar with Dungeons & Dragons the game, a brief primer may help to avoid confusion. If you’re familiar with the game, feel free to move on to the next header.
Unlike board games, players use dice to roll up statistics for their alter egos (Player Characters) relating to Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and etc. Then, using these scores, they go through adventures run by a referee referred to as the Dungeon Master for the session. The goal is to generally achieve the quest, kill the monsters, not be killed by the monsters and get enough gold and magical items to represent a risk to the economy of a continent.
The game itself is considered to be the first role-playing game, a format that has eventually evolved into games like World of Warcraft. It was first published in 1974, but gained popularity starting in 1977. Characters could be Fighters, Magic Users (wizards), Clerics (holy spell casters), Thieves and so on. The first big update to the game came in 1983, adding Cavalier (a subclass of the Fighter) and the Thief/Acrobat which coincidentally were two of the classes of the heroes in the cartoon.
Each episode was self-contained, but the overarching plot was that these young adventurers were seeking the portal that would return them home to their own world.
While it was not immune to the “Dungeons and Dragons Panic” that saw ultraconservatives claim that the game promoted violence and worse, it was largely unaffected. The show lasted for 27 episodes and dominated its time slot for two of its three seasons. Over a 100 different products were licensed from just the show itself (as opposed to the original game), including board games, action figures and more. The show was popular overseas as well especially in Spain, France, Portugal and Brazil.
In a move which still has some people outraged to this day, the show was cancelled before the kids completed their quest to return home. The original series screenwriter, Michael Reaves did write a final episode, entitled Requiem, which was never filmed. He posted it on his website which has been saved on the Internet Archive website as a PDF. It was also included in the form of a radio play on the 2004 DVD collection of the show. Spoiler below:
The Story Continues
Long after it went off the air everywhere else, the cartoon has remained immensely popular in Brazil where it is known as Caverna do Dragão. So, when pictures leaked showing actors in costumes clearly representing the characters from the show, the rumors began to fly that there was a live action movie in the works.
Over the course of the past month, the excitement grew even though it was revealed that it was a car commercial. Taking a page from Hollywood movie marketing, Renault even released a teaser trailer offering glimpses of the actors and, of course, the Renault KWID Outsider, a compact SUV. They also released a “behind the scenes” clip. They’re all in Brazilian Portuguese, of course, but some things don’t need too much translating.
The marketing company behind the campaign Omelete, had previously filmed a commercial centered around Marvel’s Hulk to promote a different Renault model.
And they certainly knew how to get the most impact out of their campaign, including movie style posters and a massive social media blitz on Facebook and elsewhere.
And, of course, even the actors got into the promotion through their own social media channels.
The video finally dropped on May 23 along with the suggestion that there may be more forthcoming. In the meantime, watch the video and, perhaps get a little closure from 1985.