Sutera cordata 1
Image: D Theodora / Pixabay

Do you ever do something knowing full well that future you will thank yourself for it? Like booking the week off after a festival, saving a couple of slices of Domino’s for the next morning, or not going to Milton Keynes? That smug satisfaction that comes with mastering the art of foresight is, I believe, one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Today, dear reader, is the polar opposite of that feeling. As a pretty severe hay fever sufferer, I sit at my desk with an Olbas inhaler planted firmly up my right nostril and enough Fexofenadine tablets to tranquilise a small rhinoceros, a direct result of me offering to help my dad with his gardening earlier today.

Image: Nintendo

Suddenly, I remember that I promised Gavin an article on the topic Rats.

Much like stocking the shelves of the Waitrose juice aisle while you’re battling the mother of all hangovers (yes, I’m talking from experience there, too), writing about pollen-producing plants during a heavy bout of hay fever is a very specific form of torture I wasn’t expecting to face up to today. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

But such is the life of a freelance video game writer, and so I say, enough of the flowery prose! I’ve got a rather pollinat- er, fascinating piece of gaming history to share with you. Sniff sniff.

Bloomin’ genius

Nintendo is certainly no stranger to unusual, left-field marketing. The early days of the DS were awash with uncharacteristically raunchy print ads proclaiming that ‘touching is good’, and more recently, the Big N transformed one of Paris’ iconic Morris columns into a Warp Pipe to promote the wildly successful Super Mario Bros. Movie.

But perhaps a lesser-known and even more creative campaign blossomed into life in 2001 when Nintendo of America cultivated a one-time relationship with a company called S&G Flowers/USA. The idea was to breed a new type of flower in the hopes of attracting green-fingered gardeners to their new GameCube system, and in particular, Shigeru Miyamoto’s new gardening-cum-RTS title, Pikmin.

The result of that unlikely collaboration was bacopa cabana – a short-lived evergreen perennial that, unsurprisingly, bears a close resemblance to the flowers that sprout from the titular Pikmin’s little bonces. As a world class journalist and investigate-y type person, I have discovered that the colloquial name for bacopa cabana is the 'Pikmin Flower'. Don't forget to like, comment and subscribe.

Image: Nintendo

Peter Main – Nintendo’s Executive Vice President at the time – said in a press release that the move “demonstrates that at the core of Nintendo is creativity [...] We used a variety of innovative and unusual activities to build anticipation for the Nintendo GameCube. Naming a flower after a video game is just one more way Nintendo is ‘seeding’ creative marketing.”

UghhhhhhhhHHHHHHskkfdfnsdvssfksafjdksajd. Sorry.

Naturally, there’s no data to show if the campaign convinced any gardeners to swap their wheelbarrows for WaveBirds, but it’s certainly a fun little example of video game marketing permeating into the real world, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Thank you. Glad you agree and we can all move on with our lives.

Looks cool! How can I grow my own Pikmin Flower?

Sutera cordata 2
Image: D Theodora / Pixabay

The good news is that the Pikmin Flower is not patented, is super easy to cultivate and look after, and, like the Pikmin themselves, is fairly hardy. In fact, these flowers have been known to withstand temperatures as low as -1°C. Not bad for a summer bedding plant!

The bad news is that, given the promotion ended more than two decades ago, seeds of the Pikmin Flower are, to put it mildly, in short supply. But fear not; you can still grow something very similar! The bacopa cabana is very closely related to sutera cordata (above), the seeds of which are pretty easy to find online under names like Snowstorm Giant Snowflake or Bacopa Snowtopia.

According to Garden Design, these dainty flowers provide summer-long colour, combine well with other flowers, and are virtually carefree, making them a good choice for even the most amateur plant parent. They also score highly in something called...*checks notes*...deer resistance, so anyone who lives in a Disney animation will presumably be fine, too.

Sutera cordata loves the sort of summery weather we’ve been enjoying in the UK recently, and with Pikmin 4 planting roots on Nintendo Switch soon, now might be the perfect time to start growing. If the mood strikes, you could even do what this chap and his girlfriend did and fashion a suitable planter out of a Nintendo GameCube. Very swish!

Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to bathe in antihistamine and self-pity. At-choo!

Do you remember this little Pikmin PR stunt? Do you, in fact, have a bunch of bacopa cabana blooming by your back door? If so, plant your seeds in the comments below.