Gotta catch ‘em all: What Pokémon GO means for your online marketing strategy

28/Jul/2016 · 3 MINS READ

By now, most of us know that we aren’t experiencing a subtle zombie apocalypse. In fact, the hordes of people walking around glued to their phones, intermittently stopping to exclaim things like “OMG there’s a Jiggly Puff on your head!” is in fact Pokémon GO.

The augmented reality app has become a viral sensation, evoking a sense of nostalgia that makes it a marketer’s dream for targeting a Millennial audience. So what does Pokémon GO mean for your marketing strategy?

A win for augmented reality

Although we are surrounded by augmented reality (AR) apps such as Google Translate and Wikitude, there has been a tepid response to AR, leaving some in the tech community wondering if there ever really was any demand for this kind of experience from the average consumer.

However Snapchat’s recent success of its interactive lenses and now Pokémon GO has proved there is in fact a market for AR, it just depends on how it’s packaged.

For marketers who have dismissed AR, there is a lesson to be learnt; it can be used as an effective marketing channel when presented in a fun, user-friendly fashion. In the past, AR has been mostly adopted by sectors of the car industry, with Ford using it to preview cars. Pokémon GO has changed this by integrating it into our everyday activities.

Keeping bricks and mortar businesses ahead of the game

The social power of Pokémon GO is its ability to move mass groups of people towards a particular space, referred to as Pokéstops within the game. For bricks and mortar retailers whose businesses rely on foot traffic, Pokémon GO is a cost effective and relevant way to attract groups of people to your store.

We’ve worked with clients in the retail space who have taken advantage of this feature by integrating Pokémon GO with their existing marketing efforts. Our client was encouraged to drop a Lure Module at Pokéstops near their store, ‘attracting’ Pokémon for 30 minutes, and by extension, Pokémon players. We integrated this real-time event with their social media strategy, creating a sense of anticipation across their social platforms about the Lure Module being dropped.

For smaller businesses, attracting Pokémon players to your store with a Lure Module can be enhanced by offering an incentive or discount for players when they arrive. Retailers can integrate it with VIP shopping nights and in-store imagery. Brands should also join the conversation around the game by sharing photos of Pokémon players in their store across social media, thus creating a full circle of content.

Remaining part of the Poké-conversation

Pokémon GO is impossible to ignore. From organised “Pokéwalks” to a proliferation of memes and tweets, it’s cemented itself in our everyday culture. But what does this mean for brands that have no direct link to the Pokémon phenomenon? Are they missing out on being part of a crucial conversation?

It’s essential for brands to think strategically when it comes to aligning themselves with the Poké-phenomenon. This is where a little creative license comes into play. Brands should be tapping into Pokémon GO communities by making an authentic connection with the game just like the examples below.

JB Hifi

One of the biggest concerns of Pokémon players is running out of battery while they’re in the middle of a Pokéwalk. This simple but creative strategy from JB Hi-Fi is the perfect example of rational based marketing with a creative flair.


What has an online food delivery service got to do with catching a Pikachu? Apparently quite a lot. This eDM from Menulog grabs the reader’s attention with the subject line “Gotta catch ‘em all” before sticking to what they do best- delivering food- as per the copy “If you’re addicted then we suggest you keep hunting and we’ll handle the food. Whether it’s pizza or salad, burger or sushi, we’ll keep you energised to catch them all.”

Charity Miles

Charity Miles, an app that enables you to earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike, has started a Pokémon GO challenge. The charity asks people to log their ‘charity miles’ as they hunt for Pokémon and upload screenshots of the Pokémon they catch, creating a sense of community and a wealth of user generated content.

The future…

It’s hard to determine the lifespan of the app, but given the nature of the game which provides players with long terms goals, it looks like Pokémon GO is here to stay. So what does this mean for future marketing strategies?

The possibilities are endless. Imagine purchasing a Lure Module for your store and attracting players during quiet periods? In-app advertising is definitely on the cards, as is social sharing from the app itself. This presents an amazing opportunity for social media marketers to run hashtag competitions, build communities and utilise user-generated content.

The true value of the app is its ability to offer markers an entire community of users to target, as noted by Jens Nielsen, head of UK operations, Netbooster, “with almost two-thirds of Pokémon Go players in the 18 to 24 ‘millennial’ market, brands should embrace the opportunity this presents to target a market that typically tends to reject direct advertising.”

Happy Poké-hunting.