The Pokémasters of Media

July 22, 2016
Nichelle Schulz
Pokemon Go at DSA

Working hard…

What a time to be alive! I just got my Blink-182 tickets, Ghostbusters is a box-office hit, and Pokémon has taken over my life. Again. When I was a kid I lived and breathed Pokémon. I had posters on my bedroom wall, I kept all my gameboy boxes in mint condition (red, yellow, blue AND pinball with the rumble pack) and I had a coveted gameboy link cable so I could trade Pokémon with the neighbourhood kids. The last time I had played Pokémon (pre-Go) was Pokémon Y, and while it was fun and I finished it, it was too similar to the old games that I was already so used to, and I had no desire to buy anymore Pokémon games.

Now I don’t have to! Pokémon released their free app in Canada five days ago, and I’ve been out every single night since then until way past my bedtime catching Pokémon. More importantly, I’ve been interacting with real people and making new friends, some of which I’ve seen consistently throughout my hunt to catch ’em all. But enough about me. Since the app was released, there have been a number of quick-minded opportunists in the media world latching onto this new/old phenomenon. Here’s a few I have come across:

Dating apps. This is just downright genius. As an introvert with social anxiety issues, I’ve found that the best times I’ve had in social outings is when there is something to do instead of just going for dinner or grabbing drinks. This helps to relieve the stress of having to hold a conversation and not appear boring or nervous. Meeting up with another person and actually doing something fun together that helps break the ice quickly would be great for a first date. A couple apps have rolled out so far, one being called PokéDates. It doesn’t seem to be available in Canada yet, but the concept itself makes total sense. Currently the first date is free, and after that it’s $20 USD per date, but that will probably change quickly.

Guerilla marketing.  As noted by Scott Brown on Twitter, Vancouver businesses are diving into the Pokémon Go world, by dropping Lure modules around PokéStops near their businesses. Players can come to a restaurant or bar, plop down on a bar stool between designated hours indicated for the lures, and catch Pokémon to their heart’s content.

In-app marketing. Search Engine Land reported today that Niantic, the company that created the game with Nintendo, plans on allowing marketers to purchase “sponsored locations”. This means that brands can essentially takeover and rename Pokéstops and Gyms. This will probably only happen with big brands who have access to big marketing budgets, but no doubt is a great opportunity, especially when thinking up the endless ideas this could be. Pokéstops located on beaches could be branded by sunblock companies, or any Gym or Pokéstop within so many kilometres of a Taco Bell could be branded to help drive hungry PokéMasters in the door, for example. They’ve also reported that Pokémon items may soon be branded. This means that your next PokéBall you throw might be logo’d with the golden arches. In fact, Pokémon Go just launched in Japan today, and they did it as a collaboration with McDonald’s, including offering Pokémon toys in Happy Meals.

The marketing ideas for this are virtually endless, and with the size of the current audience playing Pokémon Go (more active users than Twitter), it only makes sense to try and leverage the app as much as possible.