Mario is literally digging through Earth to win us over...
The fact that Mario is a worlwide mascot is as obvious as gravity. I have always thought that Japan and japanese culture could be represented by a videogame character. I am not a person that immediately associate Japan with videogames, because it is a country that has a long history tradition, a ton of myths and rituals and a well defined culture in terms of gender, jobs, economy, lifestyle and religions.
Crearly japanese culture is reflected in videogames, but during the closing ceremony of Rio's olympic games something happened. Reflection and aesthetics are the key terms in what Japan decided to do to introduce itself in the worldwide olympics spotlight. During the viewership peak, videogames, forever considered as a B-medium, as violence, as harmful, were there to be a positive image for Japan.
Nintendo was involved in the video you can see above. NCL (Nintendo Co., Ltd) approved the Mario related content and the amount of buzz and synergy was unbelievably high, but still expectable, once you realize Pac-Man and Mario are officially part of japanese culture - Doraemon was already there.
On top of that, Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, used a warp-pipe to come up on stage, because birthday cakes are definetely too west and too '60s. What it is important here, I think, is to focus attention on what Mario and videogames have become.
Slashing through the common conception that media are not so connected, and quietly at war, from a business perspective, videogames are invading sports, movies, literature and, most of all, culture outside pop culture.
I wouldn't be surprised if in a really near future eSports will be recognized as an olympic one. The decision Japan made to use videogames as something beneath their skin, had a huge reflection in the videogame community. Using the most recognizable character of all, thanks to NCL, was the right move at the right time, with the right audience.
Wearing a Mario costume, or similar, is something Nintendo tried to make acceptable for many years. The application of this concept was well incarnated by Satoru Iwata, who, as an executive, didn't have any kind of problem wearing Luigi's hat and many more goofy costumes - worth to mention Satoru Shibata from NoE (Nintendo of Europe).
So the fact that Abe choosed to follow this trend, because politicians sometimes wear hats, uniforms and so on, suddenly put videogames on a higher level. Videogames are cool things, for cool people, not only for a passionate videogame audience of olympics, but even for jocks that relentlessly weren't so keen on this medium.
In conclusion, those collateral factors: Nintendo, Mario, Abe, Iwata, Olympics, eSports, culture, community, reflection and aesthetics had a humongous impact on Social Media. Just as planned - Japan.