media update

Five lessons marketers can learn from Pokémon GO

July 15, 2016

You can’t set foot outside at the moment without literally bumping into someone glued to their phones. They’re not watching videos or sending texts, as you might have thought last week. So says Michelle Jones, head of content at Rogerwilco.

They’re catching Pokémon. Pokémon GO is the hottest app to be released in many months. And as frustrating as it may be for employers to see productivity levels decline, the benefit for staff personally is an increase in activity.

The first Pokémon game was released 20 years ago in 1996. That means that those who enjoyed it then are the right age to enjoy it now.

Marketer, entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk says: “I’m a big believer in nostalgic intellectual property. It is one of the most underrated value propositions in business and marketing. Nostalgic IP matters and it’s valuable and massively underpriced. While it’s not nostalgic for me personally, Pokémon just celebrated its 20th anniversary so you can easily see why it hits that 25 to 35-year-old demographic.”

Timing is everything

The game was initially released in the US, Australia and New Zealand. It’s the height of summer in the US and it’s school holidays in all these countries. That makes it perfect timing for them to be running around to catch Pokémon, collect items at Pokéstops and conquer gyms. In South Africa, being the middle of winter, we’re not quite as lucky. Fortunately the weather hasn’t been terrible for much of the country in the past week so Pokémon enthusiasts have been able to get outside.


How much advertising did you see for the game before its release? Probably not much. That’s because Nintendo and Niantic Labs, the app’s creators, likely realised a massive budget isn’t necessary for an effective marketing campaign for this product, particularly for this demographic. All that was necessary was a nostalgic connection with people – something Nintendo has in spades.


Sometimes we all just want to have a little bit of fun, especially as the world becomes an increasingly dangerous place to live in for many people. Pokémon GO gives people the opportunity to let loose and have fun with their friends. In a complicated world, that can be a compelling reason to join the craze.

Community and competition

At Level 5 of the game, players are given a choice of three rival factions, Mystic, Valor and Instinct. This allows players to support their own team and root for the demise of others in the same way sports fans feel about their teams. This sense of community is incredibly important for people to feel connected to the game and strive to achieve better results.

Finally, the game is extremely easy to get involved in. All players really need to do is walk around with their phone in hand, which everyone is doing anyway, and wait for vibrations which alert them to the presence of a Pokémon.

We can all learn a lesson from the convenience of the game.

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*This article originally appeared on media update.

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