Viral doesn't begin to describe the mobile marvel that is Pokémon GO. With more daily users than any mobile game ever, Pokémon has found its way back into our hearts, and our mobile devices. The game has been live in the United States for about a week, and users already spend more time on the app (an average of 33 minutes per day) than Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. The rapid growth has lead to Nintendo's shares flying through the roof with nearly a $10 billion increase in the company's market value since its debut. Pokémon GO is the very best, like no mobile app ever was...


The Apoké-lypse Hits

Like many marketers, the last few days at BFM have been spent thinking of ways our clients can jump on the bandwagon with unique yet relevant campaigns. Cue the recently launched #DontCatchAndDrive campaign by Service King. As a collision repair company with 309 locations across the US, our client Service King is a prime example of how businesses of all industries can incorporate the pop culture phenomenon into their branding, and even explore the potential of launching an entire campaign surrounding the game's underlying messaging. In a matter of hours, the quick-thinking BFM marketing team was able to strategize, design, and launch the #DontCatchAndDrive campaign. The campaign, a mixture of out of home -over 100 billboards nationwide - and social media activations, successfully connects the nature of the collision repair business with current events, while still aligning with the brand's consistent messaging surrounding safe driving. thumbnail_PokeBoardLamar However, the true magic behind the campaign is it's ability to catch more than just nearby Pokémon. It has captured the attention of passersby through the use of extremely timely, relatable, and relevant content. Although the campaign only just launched, it already has social media buzzing. Untitled

What This Means For Marketers: Catchin' On

So, what does the Pokémon GO sensation mean for marketers? As seen in the example above, the ability to leverage something that has drawn such attention holds a wealth of opportunities for brands. Whether it's in your email marketing, your social media, or any of your advertising initiatives, brands with a connection to the game should take advantage. Aside from capturing the interest of existing customers, real time marketing holds benefits for attracting new customers too. By connecting with potential customers through a common theme like Pokémon, you're able to foster brand recognition and begin building a relationship with them. Small businesses in particular are seeing upticks in business when featured in Pokémon GO. More and more customers are visiting the restaurants or locations that are 'Pokéstops,' 'Gyms,' or are even closely located to either. The social viralness of the game has also been key in allowing retailers to connect with customers--the influx of posts like "Pokémon trainers welcome here!" or "Lure modules from 10-7 at our location" are attracting gamers. Fans across the US are participating in events like bar crawls and 'group hunts' all providing local businesses with additional revenue opportunities if they're featured in the game. While these efforts certainly can't be the sole foundation of any organization's marketing, this type of marketing is a simple and effective way to connect with users and increase business in real time.

Advertising Options: Power Up

As most marketers have probably predicted, it's no surprise that advertising options are projected to come soon. If brands are organically seeing increases in business when being featured in the game, it's a no brainer that there are plenty of brands ready to jump at the opportunity to get involved and earn some additional revenue from Pokémon fever. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that sponsored locations are on the forecast for Pokémon GO. Brands that participate would have the option to be featured on maps, which would in turn encourage foot traffic to the business as Pokémon trainers look to ramp up their Pokédex, collect Pokéballs, participate in battles, or engage in any of the other opportunities the app offers at real locations. Sponsored locations would work on a "cost-per-visit" basis, allowing advertisers to maximize budget--a model similar to cost-per-click.

Generational Marketing: Evolve

The overnight phenomenon of Pokémon GO is a result of some top-notch generational marketing. While the companies behind the game, Niantic Labs, Nintendo, and Pokémon Co. have not done too much Poké-marketing, (aside from a promotional trailer back in September of 2015) the game is a prime example of the potential for organic growth within the mobile media market. By harnessing current technologies to create a platform that promotes the same product to the same audience 20 years later, you may even be able to pick up a younger audience and a whole new demographic along the way. Pokémon came to prominence in the late 90s, the Goldeen Age (GET IT?!) for millennials. The game taps into the nostalgia of that existing audience by taking the familiar Pokémon concept that people already know and love, and bringing it to life in an immersive format that kids could have only dreamt of two decades ago. As we've seen with previous generations, with millennial nostalgia comes brand loyalty. However, the biggest surprise has been the massive popularity the game has found within the Generation Z market. These are the kids that were raised with mobile phones. The ones that prefer to interact with media on mobile devices over anything else. Whether watching tv, reading books, or chasing Pokémon, they would rather do it on a mobile device. Battling Pokémon with actual playing cards would probably seem VERY boring in comparison. People have been drawn to the game through word-of-mouth, but most of the popularity can be attribute to what they've seen on social media and through messaging apps like Snapchat. The use of such apps grew 31.6% in 2015 alone, and eMarketer estimates that by 2018 there will be about 2 billion people worldwide using them. Millennials grew up with the ability to adapt to changing technologies, and Generation Z kids don't know a world without smartphones. Pokémon GO fits the needs of both markets. It fills a hole in the hearts of Millennials where Ash Ketchum used to be, while showing a whole new group of Generation Z kids how to catch them all.


So, where to next? We tapped the minds of a few of the Pokémasters around the office for ideas on where they'd like to see the app go in relation to sponsorship and branding opportunities.
  • The ability to speed up incubation periods by purchasing a product or visiting a store.
  • The ability to have Pokémon created specifically for your brand, charity or team.
  • The ability to battle a brand for something in exchange (i.e. discounts, special offers).
  • The ability for brands to sponsor tournaments at Super Gyms. Sponsorship in the form of both in-game and in-person: i.e. events around major hubs welcoming trainers - Brands have the ability to provide giveaways.
  • More teams - obviously, and the ability to be able to sponsor these teams. By being an ambassador for a brand or a cause you earn points and the more points you earn the greater the reward from that brand or sponsorship.
  • Evolutions should also allow for revolutions to decorate your Pokémon in branded clothing and accessories.
  • Brands can sponsor "treats" to give to your Pokémon - Snickers satisfies even the hungriest Pokémon!
  • Claiming your location should also allow you to write meta data - descriptions so that they show up on the Pokéstops.
  • Pokéstops should rotate and change daily - pay for specific days for being a Pokéstop or gym to bring awareness to a special discount, sale day or event.
We'd love to know your thoughts on the potential the app holds for marketers and brands alike. Comments to share your thoughts by tweeting us @BFMweb.
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