Pokémon Go and its effect on marketing. How do you catch ‘em all?

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Pokemon Go article header

As the world reverts back to the early noughties, we take a close look at Pokémon Go and its effect on marketing.


What is Pokémon go?

Okay if we have to answer this for you, then where have you been? Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game where users catch Pokémon in their actual neighbourhoods.  In case you were in a cave for the majority of the nineties and noughties, Pokémon was a popular Game Boy game, card game and cartoon franchise.

And nearly 20 years after it’s release we have Pokémon Go. An app that can be downloaded to almost every smart phone for free, meaning downloads from those genuinely excited, and by those who are just curious. An app that uses GPS signal to find Pokémon near you, getting people up and moving. An app that uses your phones camera, to put the game into actual reality. Not to mention creating some very socialably shareable pictures. It is a genius move by Niantic, the creators of the app.

And it has gone huge! At the time of writing, it had been downloaded 15 million times, but has been reported to have over 21 million daily active users. Making it the biggest mobile game in U.S. history.

This was the scene when a rare Pokemon made an appearance in New York’s Central Park.

Crazy huh?


Why has it gone huge?

Though there are many reasons why this app has taken off in popularity, but some people are still finding it hard to understand why everyone loves this game.

The feelings are summed up quite well in this article by a lifelong Pokémon fan. But it basically boils down to two elements. Nostalgia and friendship.

Those who played the game as a child (or an adult) can actually love out their childhood fantasies of becoming a Pokémon trainer. You can once again feel the excitement, competitiveness and wonder that the initial game and show brought.

It connects groups of people with similar interests, and is a great way to meet people. It brings back the human element of gaming. Not to mention it is slightly more socially acceptable to play a game for hours on end that takes you out the house than it is to play for hours on an end in a dimly lit room.


The problems of such fast growth

When something grows in popularity as fast as Pokemon Go has, there was always bound to be some problems. Users have experienced crashed servers across Europe and the US causing Niantic to issues calls for calm and to reassure they were working on it.

However, the problem soon revealed itself to be a little more malicious than over eager players downloading and using the game. A hacker group named PoodleCorp has claimed they brought down the servers using a DDOS attack. Though this is yet to be verified.


Why should businesses care?

Well as you can expect from a free app, it isn’t going to be long until businesses have opportunities to pay to appear. With many businesses already featuring as places of interest, or at the very least receiving more foot traffic due to more people being out and about, this an eagerly awaited announcement.

Niantic has said it will partner with businesses to introduce sponsored locations in-game, but has yet to release any dates of when they plan to put this into action.

But you don’t necessarily have to be a sponsor to take advantage of the game’s popularity. We have spoken plenty of times before about Newsjacking popular stories, or using topical advertising to your advantage. This is definitely a time you can make the most of it.


What are businesses already doing?

Plenty is the answer to that. There are already a ton of articles on how brands are using Pokémon Go to drum up business, like this one or this one, both from Buzzfeed.

Some are advertising discounts depending on what ‘team’ you’re on. Others are advertising how close they are to pokestops, or that they are a gym. Some are giving discount to customers who place a ‘lure’ in the store to attract others.

Businesses everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon, and it’s working!


Amazon pulled a great play with the below tweet. As Pokémon Go is known for draining players batteries, their solution needed nothing more than one word, a hashtag and a picture.

Amazon newsjacks pokemon go

Manchester NH Police

And one of my personal favourites was this Facebook post by Manchester NH Police. Who used the popularity of the game to perhaps decrease their wanted list, by advertising a rare Pokémon was available to certain members of the public. I hope to see an update on if this did catch any criminals.

manchester police newsjack pokemon go


So what can you do now to use Pokémon Go in your business?

Well, you can take stock of some of the good moves businesses have pulled already.

  • Get involved in the game. It sounds simple, but if you are just using this as a marketing ploy, it will quickly become obvious to the players you wish to take advantage of. Actually getting involved in the game means you can share the experience with your customers. You could even screenshot when Pokémon are in your business and share it on your social media.
  • Choose a side. Make yourself controversial and give a discount to a certain team. Create loyalty within a certain fan base, and you will no doubt attract their rivals too.
  • Use ‘Lure’. Yes, this is almost as creepy as it sounds. You can place a ‘lure’ Pokémon to attract other trainers, and actual people will come running.
  • Offer discounts on refreshments, or charging facilities. As mentioned, the game is quite a drain on battery, so offering free charging with every drink purchased may be an offer you won’t regret running. Also take into consideration many players are walking for hours more than they usually would. They may not be all that prepared. Discounts on drinks or light snacks could encourage players to stop by regularly if they find themselves chasing Pokemon.


Are you playing Pokemon Go? What’s been the best use of a business mentioning Pokemon Go that you have seen? Let us know in the comments!


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