Stratego was one of the games of my youth. I was reminded of it by an InstaPundit link to a post titled “10 toy-based movies that would blow away Battleship.” That post had TV ads for a number of games of decades past, including this Milton-Bradley ad for Stratego:

The video brought back happy memories of Stratego, a fun and not overly-complicated game. But it its odd: not only are the players in the ad not following the rules–bombs can’t move–they also are playing stupidly. There is no point in advancing a scout one space at a time, and no one would attack blindly with his general without having his spy close at hand. Why do people make television commercials for a game without bothering to know the rules?

I saw something similar years ago in a glossy magazine ad that showed a well-dressed man and woman playing chess. I forget what was being advertised, but the scene was luxurious, some kind of library setting with a fire in the fireplace. Some advertiser and ad agency spent many thousands of dollars on the ad. Every detail of the couple’s clothing and the room’s fixtures was carefully plotted. Only the chess board was set up wrong: there was a black square in the lower right-hand corner rather than a white one, so everything was reversed. The white queen, for example, was on the player’s right rather than his left. (If that sounds subtle, imagine an ad in which kids are playing baseball and the batter hits the ball and dashes toward third base. You could run clockwise around the bases, but you don’t.)

The people who made the ad were obviously trying to achieve something by having the characters play chess. So wasn’t there anyone involved in the production who actually knew how to play, or who at least thought to ask someone who did? Evidently not. Likewise with the Stratego ad. Still, Stratego is a fun game, and it is still around: you can buy it here and many other places.