Justin Lee On November 13, 2007 at 9:51 am

If you were shown two politicians and Mario…who do you think people would be able to name? More people identified Mario more often than Prime Minister Stephen Harper or the leader of the opposition party Stephane Dion. Go Canada!

According to a Harris/Decima survey commissioned by Nintendo of Canada, more people in Calgary, Toronto and Halifax can identify a photo of Nintendo’s iconic video game character, Mario, than can identify a photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Even in Calgary, which includes Harper’s home riding of Calgary Southwest, Mario was more recognizable (47 percent vs. 41 percent). More women across Canada were also able to identify Mario than the country’s top politician (66 per cent vs. 63 percent) and nationwide, the animated plumber is just as well-known as the prime minister. Both were recognized by 70 percent of respondents in five major centres when asked to identify photographs by name.

Mario, who launches his newest title Super Mario Galaxy™ for Nintendo’s WiiTM, also outshone opposition leader Stephane Dion. Less than half of Canadians surveyed – 48 percent – were able to identify Dion’s photo, which included a Canadian flag in the background. In fact, in Montreal, which includes Dion’s home riding of Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, more people recognized Mario than the Liberal party leader (78 percent vs. 71 percent).

“Canadian politicians are lucky Mario doesn’t have his Canadian citizenship and could campaign for office,” said Ron Bertram, general manager of Nintendo of Canada. “It’s no surprise that Mario is more recognized than high-profile politicians: he’s entertained generations of Canadians and inspires only happy thoughts.”

“Super Mario Galaxy for Wii will further boost Mario’s stature in Canada” said Bertram. “Moms and dads will have some great Mario fun alongside their kids.”

Nintendo’s Mario character is the bestselling video game franchise of all time, selling more than 200-million units worldwide. Mario has appeared in more than 200 games since his debut in the original Donkey Kong® in 1981. He first headlined a title in 1983 in Mario Bros.® and soon after in the revolutionary Super Mario Bros.® in 1985 on the Nintendo Entertainment System® (NES).

Super Mario Galaxy, available across Canada with gameplay in English and French, is the latest innovative title in the popular franchise, using unique motion-based controls in a gravity-defying adventure. Super Mario Galaxy brings Mario to the Wii generation – young or old, gamer or not. And with the game’s innovative "co-star mode," even the most inexperienced players can join in the action.

Other Mario facts:

· Mario is the brainchild of legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who also created the Donkey Kong and Legend of Zelda® franchises

· Mario was known as Jumpman when he debuted in the Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981

· Mario’s original occupation was a carpenter, not a plumber

· The Mario franchise has spawned a cartoon TV show, comic book series and a rock opera

· Academy-award winning actor Bob Hoskins played Mario in the live-action 1993 Hollywood film Super Mario Bros

· Mario made history in 2003 by becoming the first video game character to be honored with a wax figure in the legendary Hollywood Wax Museum

· The world’s largest metal Super Mario was built in downtown Toronto in 2006. The 10-foot high structure was built in a day with 4,000 cans of food weighing close to 2,600 pounds. All food was later donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto.

About the survey

Harris/Decima conducted the survey research between October 11 and October 16 via mall intercepts with randomly selected Canadians in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto GTA, Montreal and Halifax. The sample margin of error is +/- 5.5%, 19 times out of 20. Surveys were conducted in both English and French. Results are weighted to reflect Statistics Canada regional populations.

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