Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The promotional potential of Pokemon Go

Published 20 Jul, 2016 12:20pm
If brands jump on the Poke-wagon, they may gain an edge over conventional marketing.

If you’re fed up to the back teeth of the fact that Pokemon Go has still not released in Pakistan yet, relax; we’re not talking about who is playing the game, or how and why. Instead, we will see how brands can prepare to invest in the game to improve their business prospects.

Other than the collectible monsters themselves, key elements of Pokemon Go are geo-tagged locations known as Pokestops where players can find free Poke Balls, Pokemon Eggs, healing potions and other useful objects, and Gyms where the Pokemon battle each other.

According to several web forums, many current Pokestops are pre-existing Portals originally created for Ingress, a massively-multiplayer-online-game (MMOG) developed by Niantic Labs when it was part of Google. New Portals could be created by submitting locations that complied with Ingress’ lore that aliens were sending exotic matter to Earth through famous landmarks; potential Portals were thus required to be accessible to the public and have a back story of cultural, educational or historical importance, e.g. statues or art installations, libraries, places of worship, and so on.

When the company split off to become Niantic, Inc. and released Pokemon Go, several Portals were converted into Pokestops. Requests for new Pokestops and Gyms can be submitted via a form on the official Pokemon Go site – all that’s required is the name of the place, geographical coordinates, specific address and a reason explaining why the place should be approved.

For businesses present near such locations, the benefit is self-explanatory. When hordes of players, parched from walking in the blistering summer heat converge to a clock tower with a thela nearby serving icy cold, very refreshing juice, the man is going to sell a couple of extra cups for sure.

But when it comes to money, no one leaves anything to chance. With Ingress, Niantic Labs made deals with American pharmacy chain Duane Reade that required players to walk into stores in order to scan promo codes. French insurance firm AXA sponsored one of the game’s most powerful pieces of armour which was officially named the AXA Shield (very clever because insurance, like armour, offers protection). Ride-sharing service Zipcar signed up to ferry players around. Telecom service provider Vodafone turned all its German stores into Portals and offered players a special prepaid rate.

Pokemon Go is expected to introduce sponsored locations shortly. Coffee shops, restaurants, retailers of all goods and services can turn their premises into Pokestops and Gyms in exchange for a fee calculated on the footfall received as a consequence of the game. Early birds would do well to move in as soon as the game releases officially in Pakistan and they wouldn’t even need to shell out their life savings; reports a New York pizzeria paid for a ten dollar in-app purchase known as a Lure Module that attracts Pokemon to a location. Business shot up by 75%. If this was the result of sponsoring a small in-app purchase, imagine what could happen if you paid to list your tandoor as a Gym!