Pokémon Go To Launch In Japan With McDonald’s As Sponsored Gym Locations

What Happened
Two weeks after its initial release, Pokémon Go is finally set to be released in Japan on Wednesday (Update 7/20: the launch has been delayed due to the leak of the partnership), TechCrunch reports. Sources also claim that this major roll-out will also feature the first Sponsored Locations in the game, with over 3,000 McDonald’s locations in Japan designated as Gyms. Reports about game-maker Niantic opening up the game to allow Sponsored Locations first surfaced last week, and for now it remains to be seen whether the company will roll out this brand opportunity to other markets.

In the past two weeks, Pokémon Go has quickly grown into a global craze, driving considerable real-world traffic to various landmarks, parks, and local businesses. On Sunday, around 5,000 people gathered at Millennium Park in Chicago to play the game. The Dallas Arboretum, home to multiple PokéStops and Gyms, is hosting Pokémon Go events and staying open late to accommodate players, drawing record crowds as a result.

The foot traffic the game drives is also giving various restaurants, cafes, and other stores significant boosts in customers. Picasso’s Pizzeria in Buffalo, NY advertised that they are located in between two PokéStops and claimed that sales doubled in just a few hours. Various restaurants across the country are reported to be attracting Pokémon Go players with extra Pokémons generated by Lures, an in-game purchase, as well as offering discounts and gift cards to people who tweet out photos of themselves with Pokémon in the restaurants.

What Brands Need To Do
With the game scoring a higher engagement rate than Facebook and more daily active users than Twitter, Pokémon Go’s smashing success presents great opportunities for brands to reach a young-skewing audience on mobile and even drive offline traffic to stores. While it remains to be seen when the company behind Pokémon Go will bring sponsorship opportunities to markets outside Japan, there are still plenty of things that brands can do to capitalize on the game’s viral popularity. For starters, brands can take a cue from T-Mobile, which announced a series of Pokémon Go-related promotions to appeal to the vast number of players. For brands with physical locations that are near PokéStops, it would also be important to indicate so on Yelp for the new search option it added.

For more suggestions on how brands can benefit from “Pokémania,” check out our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on the matter here.


Sources: Various outlets as linked in the post