If you haven’t heard the words Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle then you’ve probably been hiding under a rock for the last two weeks.
For clarity, these are character names from the 90s cartoon franchise, Pokemon, which the new mobile app, Pokemon Go, is modelled on. The augmented reality game has become a global phenomenon since it launched in 35 countries and people have been walking the streets en-masse trying to capture monsters to build up “stardust” and XP points.
What’s interesting is the sheer number of adults playing this game as it has triggered a sense of nostalgia amongst those who remember watching the cartoon after school, or perhaps it’s just a fun way of encouraging people to go for a walk and be active.
Today (22 July) the app has landed in the Motherland, Japan. Nintendo, which has part-ownership of Pokemon Co and the app’s developer, Niantic, waited to launch in Japan until it was confident that servers in the market could withstand the game’s popularity. With the Japanese launch also comes a brand sponsorship deal with McDonald’s whose fast-food joints are now places where people are guaranteed to find Pokemon, or a “gym” where players can train up their monsters for virtual fights.
The app is estimated to be making $1.6million a day from iPhone users in the US alone so there is no doubt that other brands are likely to follow McDonald’s by sponsoring the app as they realise the potential footfall players can bring to their retail estates. This is especially true for companies that target Millenials as the app seems to be a huge hit amongst this audience.
Mobile networks are also jumping on the bandwagon, with T-Mobile in the US and CSL and 1010 in Hong Kong announcing that customers will receive free unlimited data packages for Pokemon Go usage.
It looks like Nintendo has “cracked it” as It’s been a long time since any mobile app has received this much success and brand followers. Brands that show a sign of support of the app in some way are bound to get some decent PR hits as the trend continues to entice journalists, so it’s just a matter of time before we see more brands announcing their sponsorship deals.
Devika Mistry, Account Director, MWW