So, until this week, I’d never heard of Mario Kart and I’d never heard of Bryan Bickell. Now, the two—the former is a video game and the latter is a professional athlete—are colliding with the world of self-storage (which I have heard of).
On Sept. 7, Uncle Bob’s Self Storage in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg is hosting a Mario Kart tournament featuring Bickell.
Before we go any further, let me tell you what Mario Kart is and who Bryan Bickell is.
It turns out Mario Kart is a go-kart racing game for Nintendo’s gaming consoles. Do a Google search, and you’ll find tons of information about this game. According to a Wiki dedicated to Mario Kart, more than 28 million copies of the game have been sold, making it the second most popular game for Nintendo’s Wii console.
The last video game I played with any regularity was Ms. Pac-Man. Yep, you guessed it—I’m not in the same age group as Justin Bieber. (By the way, this should come as no surprise, but I don’t own a Wii.)
Now, let’s move on to Bryan Bickell.
If you don’t follow professional hockey, you probably don’t know Bickell. I don’t follow professional hockey and, therefore, I had no idea who Bickell was. Now, I know: He plays left wing for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawk, winner of last year’s Stanley Cup, which is awarded each season to the NHL champion. (To be honest, I’m clueless about what a left wing is, unless you’re talking about a bird or a plane.)
As a hockey player, Bickell spends a lot of time on the ice. Players of Mario Kart never want to see ice. So, what’s Bickell’s connection to Mario Kart? For that part of the story, we can rely on a blog post Bickell wrote last year for NHL.com.
In the post, Bickell explained that his fascination with Mario Kart—and, subsequently, his team’s fascination with Mario Kart—can be traced back to the Blackhawks’ playoff run in 2010. That year, Bickell was used sparingly during the playoffs, so he turned to Mario Kart to alleviate his boredom. Mario Kart fever soon spread.
These days, the Blackhawks travel with two Wii systems and two Mario Kart games when they’re on the road. “The team sets up a lounge for us in the hotel,” Bickell wrote, “and there are about a dozen of us who are regulars.”
Bickell wrote that “having the ability to fall back on some Mario Kart action is a way to keep us relaxed and take us away from the game for a little while.” Note: The game he’s referring to here is hockey, not Mario Kart.
All right, now that we’ve established what Mario Kart is and who Bryan Bickell is, it’s time to tell you how this relates to self-storage.
As I mentioned before, Bickell is appearing at a Mario Kart tournament at an Uncle Bob’s Self Storage facility in suburban Chicago. Sixteen randomly selected players will race in the tournament for a chance to compete head-to-head against Bickell. The Blackhawks star also will sign autographs and pose for pictures.
“Bryan has become a Chicago favorite, and we know the team played Mario Kart during their Stanley Cup run, so the event seemed like a natural fit,” Tom Dahlin, area manager for Uncle Bob’s in the Chicago region, said in a news release. “This is bound to be a fun event for the community, and we can’t wait to see Bryan and a lucky fan in action.”
Bringing together a popular sports figure and a popular video game makes sense when you’re trying to generate marketing buzz. And Uncle Bob’s is no stranger to marketing buzz. For instance, competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi set a world record in July at an Uncle Bob’s in New Jersey for the number of cupcakes devoured in one minute.
Boy, I’m thankful that neither Mario nor Bryan will be gorging himself on cupcakes. Imagine if they had to do that, and then play Mario Kart. It wouldn’t be pretty.
Photos courtesy of gamerfitnation.com, blackhawks.nhl.com
Mario Kart is a trademark of Nintendo © 2008