Since its launch on July 7, Pokemon Go has not only captivated players, but also brands yearning to capitalize on the game’s inarguable fame. Through Pokemon Go, fans can relive their dream to become a Pokemon trainer. By visiting real places, players can catch and collect different types of Pokemon that they can use to battle against other players.
The game makes use of augmented reality and real-world location data to help players capture “pocket monsters” with uncanny abilities. There are special places called PokeStops where players are awarded useful gear like Pokeballs, food, and potions. There are gyms too where players have the chance to battle against other Pokemon Go gamers.
However, these PokeStops and gyms are randomly assigned by Pokemon Go’s developer, Niantic Labs. There is currently no way for brands or businesses to apply as a PokeStop. According to Niantic Labs, they are being flooded with queries about this.
Brands who want to join the club have nothing to worry because Niantic’s chief executive John Hanke said that they’d consider the business model. He told the Financial Times that players can download Pokemon Go for free, although in-app PokeCoin purchases are available. The developer also aims to invite companies that might want to sponsor certain locations.
Niantic remains hush as to which specific brands they would work with. Speculation is rife that one of the brands will be McDonald’s after several observant fans discovered the fast food chain’s logo in the app’s source code.
Restaurants, cafes, and local businesses that have been fortunate are starting to use Pokemon Go to bring in more foot traffic. Even taxi drivers are not oblivious to Pokemon Go‘s popularity. Several drivers have placed ads on Craigslist promising to help players visit all the designated PokeStops and gyms.
For $25, this taxi driver in Baltimore, who’s also a self-confessed Pokemon master, promises players that they can “get all of the steps with none of the sweat.”
“Have you ever wanted to have your very own chauffeur personally drive you around to Baltimore’s PokeStops and Gyms? Looks like your wish has been granted! For one hour I will personally drive you around to Baltimore’s Poke-Stops & Gyms helping you catch them all.”
It will be interesting to see how business owners will weave Pokemon Go into their own strategies. Some brands might provide free WiFi at a famous Pokemon location, while other can come up with exclusive contests for Pokemon Go players.
Businesses are already taking sides. pic.twitter.com/nlCHD6Cgo2— Pokemon GO! (@iPokemonGO) July 10, 2016
L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in Queens, New York is gradually becoming famous among Pokemon Go players because manager Sean Benedetti chooses to spend $10 on an in-app purchase called the “Lure Modules.” This purchase lures Pokemon to a designated location. Players in the area find the pizzeria interesting because of the “catches” that they can have. Benedetti told Bloomberg that food and drink sales increased by 30 percent. “People are coming out of the woodwork because of this game,” he added.
For Brandon Berger, Ogilvy Worldwide’s chief digital officer, brands do not necessarily have to liaise with Niantic. Since the company doesn’t have a plan rolled out yet, he has a suggestion.
“If you’re a beverage brand or a retailer or even a real gym, why don’t you find gyms [in the game] and put your brand right around that, put experiences around that?”
Pokemon Go has been officially released in Australia, New Zealand, United States, and most recently, United Kingdom.
UK Trainers, the wait is over. #PokemonGO is now officially available to be installed from Google Play or iTunes.— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) July 14, 2016
While players in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Singapore got the opportunity to play Pokemon Go on July 10, the experience was short-lived. Niantic opted to delay Pokemon Go’s release to fix server issues that keep on impeding the gamers’ progress.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]