Milking Pikachu

What to remember before implementing Pokémon Go into your communication strategy


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Pokémon Go is one of the most successful mobile games ever. Two months after its launch, it has hit over 100 million downloads. And as it goes, where are consumers, there are the brands. Even that Pokémon Go doesn’t support in app advertisement, the companies have found various ways to milk this cow. And so you can read about really creative and successful campaigns which used the Pikachu craziness and you may think about going this way as well… and be successful… or not. Because if you forget about your targeting and positioning, you can lose not just money, but your customers as well.

Target market

If you are selling products for aged people, it is natural, that a mobile game is not the best fit – your message never reaches them or they won’t understand it. Despite Niantic Labs claiming they don’t collect any data from the Pokémon Go users, there is numerous statistics about the users available on the internet. Forbes, for example, published, that “according to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, 63% of users in the U.S. are female, while the average user persona is a 25-year-old, white woman with a college degree making about $90,000 a year “. Also, marketing agencies from all around the world are conducting the researches about Pokémon Go users in their countries. So before you start thinking how to communicate with the Pikachu fanatics, have a look on the stats and see, if they are your potential customers.


It is important to remember, that Pokémon Go has its own positioning and if that doesn’t fit your brands strategy, implementing Pikachu to your communication could be suicidal. A good example is a case of a Slovak bank from three years back. Tatra Banka is a leading financial institution targeting mainly businesses, entrepreneurs and people with high income – positioned as highly serious and professional institution. In 2013, they launched a new campaign trying to get into new segment for them – students. Even the campaign was educative and interesting, they made a huge mistake – celebrity endorsement with a Slovak rapper named Rytmus – very controversial singer. The campaign was withdrawn within a week, because the business customers started to leave.

In this manner I need to also mention Hillary Clinton referencing Pokémon Go in her speech: “I don’t know who created ‘Pokémon Go, but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have ‘Pokémon Go’ to the polls.”, what encouraged a bunch of people mocking her around internet.


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Don’t forget – not all your customers are Pikachu fans

If you find your target audience within Pokémon Go players and your positioning in a balance with the game, great. But don’t forget, you have a bit wider audience. So don’t fill up your newsfeeds on social networks with Pokémon, Poké-balls, Poké-locations and Poké-selfies competitions. Rather choose an approach which could be interesting for players and non-players or accompany it with Pikachu-free messages.

And now you can be creative

While many companies are using similar Pokémon Go milking strategies (creating locations at their business, referencing Pokémon in their social media communication or giving players something extra such as extra data, rides or discounts), there is still a lot of opportunities to think creative and differentiate your brand from others so why not to find one for yourself?

For inspiration

Basel – Switzerland third largest city. Basel is positioning itself as the city of art, amenity and joyfulness. In its communication it targets young adults travelling across Europe. And since the Pokémon go is a subject many of these people are currently following, Basel created a related campaign. Satirising the game by moving Pikachu and Pokémon catching into the real life – the project managed to create trendy entertaining content which shows the most popular places of interest within the city. So after giggling about the oversized Poké-balls were thrown on the bystanders on the background of stunning city sceneries, the audience would get a call to action button to check the Basel website – and find out, there is even more for them! Not just more information about the city (nicely linked with Pokémon theme), but also some special offers such as Pokémon cupcakes or Pokemon festival suited just for them. And the best thing about the campaign is that since it went viral and the referencing website is (despite the same domain) not linked to the general website of the city, the rest of their audience not interested in the Pokémon crazy is not being annoyed by this communication.


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author: Katarina Kopecka


Birkner C., With One Brilliant Pokemon Video, This Swiss City Instantly Became a Viral Superstar – 49 million views and counting, Adweek, 4. August 2016,

Mac R., More Women Than Men Are Playing ‘Pokémon GO’–By A Lot, Forbes, 26. July 2016,

Morgenterm M., Clinton: ‘I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon Go to the polls’, Washington Examiner, 14. July 2016,

Perez S., Pokémon Go passed 100 million installs over the weekend, Techrunch, 1. August 2016,

Tvardzik J., Tatra Banka stahuje plagaty Rytmusa z pobociek, Ekonomika SME, 20. March 2013,

Venter P., Wright A. & Dibb S., Performing market segmentation: a performative perspective, Journal of Marketing Management. Feb2015, Vol. 31 Issue 1-2


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