How Pokémon GO Will Impact Events

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Over the last several weeks, you’ve likely seen friends and coworkers stumbling around like zombies with their eyes glued to their phones. The behavior has become all too familiar since Niantic Labs released its Pokémon Go app in July. The free augmented reality game has become an international craze, causing traffic accidents and earning record downloads worldwide as users hunt for fake monsters in real-world locations.


If leveraged strategically, Pokémon Go has the power to increase brand awareness and attract event attendees. But to date, the game’s only definitive sponsorship opportunity has been awarded to McDonald’s of Japan, whose nearly 3,000 restaurants will serve as “gyms” where players can compete against one another, and “PokéStops,” which are real locations like monuments and public buildings, that let players collect items such as eggs and PokéBalls to help capture more Pokémon.


So how do brands get in on the action without a mega-sponsorship investment? Here’s a quick primer on the game—and how you might leverage it at events.


Pokémon Go players, referred to in the game as “trainers,” are social butterflies. They’re using the app to explore cities with friends, and interacting with other users as the game unfolds. Targeting these players will help connect you with consumers who are more inclined to attend events, network with others and share their experiences on social media.


Lure modules” are your new best friend. For about $1 per module, you can drop Pokémon lures at Pokéstops for 30 minutes at a time. The feature attracts “wild” Pokémon (those that have yet to be caught) to the area, helping to draw foot traffic—and potential customers—to events in the area. Planning a pop-up experience? Hold it at a Pokéstop and watch as players flock to your location.


Sponsoring elite Pokémon Go players could become a go-to influencer strategy. After revealing that he had captured all 142 Pokémon native to the U.S. in late July, New Yorker Nick Johnson earned his first commercial sponsorship as a Pokémon Go Master. Johnson inked a deal with Marriott Rewards that sent him to Europe, Japan and Australia in an effort to catch the remaining region-specific Pokémon. (Event website Funzing recently listed Pokémon Go Master as the world’s first paid game-related job..)


Microtransactions are an important part of the game. Although Pokémon Go is free to download, its game shop allows users to purchase Pokécoins using real money, then spend the currency on game-related items that can be used to capture Pokémon. How about using a little of that event budget to sponsor a team, load them up with Pokécoins and send them out as ambassadors for your brand or event?


Wearables are in the works. The Pokémon Go Plus is a wireless receiver slated to be released at the end of September. The device comes in the form of a wristband and uses a Bluetooth connection to alert players to nearby Pokémon and PokéStops in the game without having to dig out their smartphones. Besides being a cool incentive to give away at events, the wristbands also have the potential to transform a networking or team building event into a pretty killer group experience.


Sweating to Pokémon Go is all the rage. Health and wellness brands are using the app to help attract consumers to a variety of fitness-related experiences. Virgin Gym in London recently announced Pokémon Go workouts, where trainers send groups on a route designed for catching Pokémon as they perform interval training. Similar experiences are popping up all over the U.S.


From increasing foot traffic to engaging the right audience, leveraging Pokémon Go has plenty of potential in the events industry. So get moving. Your customers and their Pokémon are waiting.



Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.