So last week, Nintendo and the Pokemon company casually dropped two more titles for the Nintendo Switch: Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu! and Pokemon Let's Go Eevee!, with the added bonus that the games will be released November this year. While this got my inner 10 year old bouncing, it also sent my marketing head into overdrive thinking about where, when and how the campaigns will be realised.
On the back of the Pokemon Go marketing buzz, and the increasing prevalence of game-based marketing as seen in battle royale game Fortnight, we can expect to see some real disruption in Pokemon Let's Go's marketing campaign.
With the titles set in Kanto with the primary aim to catch all 151 original Pokemon, it looks like Let's Go will adopt Pokemon Sun and Moon's approach and play on nostalgia to hit the hearts of millennial demographics.
So, along with a plethora of nostalgic promo and organic canvas ads playing on some of the more original features of Pokemon, expect to see a follow-on from Sun and Moon's evocative TV, Social and Youtube video commercials for Pokemon Let's Go.
Warning: major lump in the throat generator:
AR marketing: Pokemon Go will be used to market Pokemon Let's Go
Not only do mobile phones have the capacity to reproduce high-fidelity image and sound, but they're the perfect device for site-specific, storytelling as they incorporate geo-locating technology (GPS) and internet connectivity. With Pokemon Go, software development company Niantic created a game which placed the player inside a dynamic, spatially contextual story which evolves according to real user actions.
More generally speaking, the merging of our everyday lives with gaming narratives and interactivity creates a mesmeric opportunity for storytelling that captures the audience’s imagination. With Pokemon Go, the story unravels in the city and the player becomes the protagonist: the narrative interlaces with reality, and players go out and try to obtain what they desire i.e. Pokemon. In fact, it's this narrative discourse and the evolution of AR more generally, which is proving to be an extremely impactful form of marketing. As exemplified with the Pokemon Go hype, offline and online communities went mad, players amassed in their legions to catch Pokemon and be a part of the newly emerging culture. Therefore, we can predict that this influential discourse will be used in the same way to again blur the boundary between player and consumer on Pokemon Go, organically moving players onto the Let's Go title – this could manifest in the form of offers for players who've achieved certain Pokemon-orientated goals, or simply increased exposure to Let's Go content and targeted ads.
The rise of social and influencer marketing shows how consumers now prefer to be part of a brand’s conversation, as opposed to passive witnesses to an ad. By directly addressing this generation through personalities, narratives or unique aesthetics, brands are able to spark a lasting connection. So with this in mind, like how many influencers rode the Pokemon Go wave, expect to see this two-fold with Pokemon Let's Go.
Actually, leading Pokemon Go influencer Ali A is already churning out influential, conversational Pokemon Let's Go content to his loyal and impressionable audience.
The new marketing buzzword on the scene, conversational marketing's main driver is, guess what, starting a conversation. Very much entwined with influencer and social marketing, conversational or chat marketing is a feedback-orientated, reactive approach to marketing. Used by companies to drive engagement, enhance customer loyalty, and grow the customer base with the end goal of increasing revenue, you can expect to see Pokemon Let's Go in the "global conversation" across various social platforms and among key influential figures. Think social stories, lives, statuses, any sort of Pokemon-orientated content to get the the convo flowing pre, mid and post release.
So how should other sectors use Pokemon titles to market like a Ma(champ)?
B2C should embrace Pokemon Let's Go's AR feature
Like with Pokemon Go, expect to see many more brick-and-mortar enterprises like retail shops, bars and restaurants jumping on the Let's Go hype this time round. By fully embracing Pokemon Let's Go's AR element into your marketing strategy you can reach budding gamers and incentivise a visit to your business. So, start thinking about online and offline Pokemon-centric content, events and competitions – by making your business a hub for all things Pokemon Let's Go, you can improve online traffic, footfall, and in turn, revenue.
Wider implications for other industries
Although the extent of Pokemon Go's integration with Let's Go is yet to be fully confirmed, the wider implications of game-based marketing for most industries are significant. For instance, I can't help but muse over the impact of placing a finite amount of Mewtwos on a Pacific Island like Bora Bora, or a limited number of Moltreses, only accessible on an Icelandic Volcano as part of the Pokemon Let's Go narrative. We've already seen a microcosm of this during the Pokemon Go hype where players gravitate to locations or regions as a result of location or region-specific Pokemon nests. However, by developing this concept further and augmenting the sense of an exclusive and gamified reality, it could truly revolutionise the tourism and travel industry as we know it.
The topography of Pokemon GO has allowed us to envision new ways for identity formation and brand communication, so with Pokemon Let's Go we should expect see similar marketing strategy and possibly much more.
Here's the Pokemon Let's Go official trailer for those of you Poke trainers who haven't watched it yet!: