That time we fused marketing advice with Pokemon to jump on the trend

The idea of Pokemon Go was always going to be massive. It was always going to explode and cause mass addiction, resulting in fully-grown adults chasing imaginary fictional characters around the world. And so we thought we’d have a look at the lessons we as marketers can learn from the success of the game.

Be timely and relevant

Firstly, we’ve already demonstrated one of the points. It’s about being relevant and timely and writing this blog as the world goes crazy for this particular breed of augmented reality is a good example. The content is relevant now and it’s completely the right time to be talking about it, resulting in people being more likely to read the post, engage with it and share it (hopefully).

This works in the very same way as your marketing should, by following the age-old advice of distributing your marketing communications to the right person, at the right time and through the right channel. Having human conversations with your customers is the golden rule for keeping them. Granular segmentation and personalization down to the precise prospect or customer you are targeting is now the norm for companies that do email marketing well.

For example, for those of us who shop there, Tesco knows exactly what we buy every week. They can influence our buying decisions through the Clubcard Reward System. I use the word influence here, because not only do they encourage repeat shopping habits with coupons they know we will use, but they also have an opportunity to put new, related products in front of us in their communications.

Relevance now has a whole new meaning in today’s marketing world. It’s no longer good enough to send a newsletter to your entire database. You can no longer assume that it will be relevant just because someone has completed the sign-up form. Monitoring behavior, gathering data and using it to tailor each communication to the individual will ensure you keep your customers coming back.

Embrace mobile

This whole phenomenon could not be possible without our favorite handheld device: the smartphone. Pokemon turned a 1980s favorite from a TV cartoon and Gameboy extravaganza into a modern 21st century must-have. Playing not only on nostalgia, but also on the technological advances of our time. I’ve seen articles where Mums and Dads are ecstatic that they can educate their children on the Pokemon they remember; they are digging out their old collector cards and bonding in their overgrown gardens as they search for Squirtles. None of this would be possible without mobile.

And so the lesson here is that we need to embrace mobile. Even without Pokemon Go, the best marketing tool we have is already in your customer’s hand. With more than 2.6 billion people predicted to own a smartphone by 2019, and mobile being the preferred device across all demographics to read emails, optimizing for mobile shouldn’t be new news.

Be agile

When talking about being agile in the Pokemon world, it would be easy to assume I’m talking about the actual Pokemon stats and how improving your Pokedex skill set will set you up to win in the PokeGym. I’m not. Here, I’m talking about how even though Pokemon Go has certainly been talked about for a while, I don’t think until it went live that we could have predicted the scale of its success and we are only just starting to imagine what it has in store for us in the future. So what can we glean for this? As marketers, we need to be agile. We need to have the infrastructure that allows us to do this. Savvy businesses are leveraging the free(ish) nature that Pokémon Go currently offers. For those that are not lucky enough to be have been bang under a PokeGym, it’s time to get creative. According to Bloomberg, local small retailers have been intentionally inserting themselves into the craze. L’Inizio’s Pizza Bar in Queens recently saw a 30% spike in food and drink sales when the manager bought $10 worth of the ‘luring potion’, an in-game purchase which lures Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes. The Manager at L’Inizio’s needed to have the autonomy to make that call and as his quick reaction to making his pizza bar the go-to place in the neighborhood for catching Pokémon put him at the forefront of this craze.

Moment marketing is also not a new concept. The most famous example being the Oreo cookie blackout response, which needs no explanation. But Moment marketing is evolving – whilst the golden nuggets are the completely unpredictable events such as the NFL Superbowl blackout, we can leverage known ‘moments’ to engage with our audience at scale.

British Airways recently took over the infamous Piccadilly Billboard with a short advert which saw a cute toddler pointing up at the sky and following an airplane as it went across the sky. BA broadcasted this and the exact flight and its destination at the exact moment it passed overhead. It was completely accurate, and completely took advantage of that particular moment, but it wasn’t ‘live’.

British Airways demonstrates moment marketing on a larger scale, and possible has less to do with being agile and more to do with being creative. But the concept remains the same: being agile and having the ability to react to your surroundings will put you ahead of the competition.


To sum up, the players of Pokemon Go are serious (one guy has quit his job to be a full-time Pokemon Hunter), they are having meltdowns when the servers are disrupted, they are breaking into people’s backyards, they are causing serious traffic incidents in their hunts. They also are not slowing down. Normally when an organization’s core product continually lets us down, we tend to use them less (who still uses Blackberry?). This is not the case for Pokemon Go. We can only predict what the future holds and work hard on our strategy to ensure we jump on whatever trends it throws up. With rumors of social integration (trading and battling) and brand/product placement (Your avatar could soon be battling in a pair of Nikes), the game’s development is something to watch.

Moreover, there are opportunities to learn. This was by far no exhaustive list of the ways Pokemon Go can aid marketing tactics, but the importance of moment marketing, mobile optimization and the infamous ‘right time, right person analogy’ can’t be ignored and leveraging them will boost your position among your competitors.

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