Skip to main content

Pokémon GO is crazy fun, dangerously addictive and just plain dangerous when it leads distracted people into trouble. is charting every incidence of injury and mayhem while they’re Mewtwo hunting here.

Still, that hasn’t deterred anyone so far – least of all marketers, who are dreaming up creative ways to buy into the hype. In Japan, McDonalds paid to make 3,000 of its restaurants Pokémon Gyms – and we’ll see this elsewhere if the fad doesn’t die before deals can be made.

This augmented reality game is a fantastic bridge between mobile and real-world experiences. Email could also play an important role in a multichannel Pokémon GO strategy.

Here are my ideas on ways to integrate email into this phenomenon:

Out-of-app notifications:

This game is a big drain on mobile batteries, and it can also suck your data dry. Pikachu hunters are always looking for ways to lower the device overhead as they play. Email could solve that problem for them by offloading some of the communications traffic. Instead of relying on in-game messages and alerts, hunters could instead opt-in to letting a branded service handle them, using less data and less juice.

In return for this, the brand could gain valuable behavioral data. For example, if one hunter was typically active in the game between 5 and 7 p.m., that could indicate a regular period when he’s at leisure and possibly more receptive to messages in general.

Another way to make the most out of the PokéPhenomenon, might be in the way the game leads people to places beyond their usual place of work or home neighborhood.

Pokemon hunting


Brands could help the PokéChaser to stay out of trouble, by offering value to them in the form of notifications when a new PokéStop goes live. They could take geographic information from users when they sign-up to get alerts, or simply get permission to geo-target alerts to the device’s current location.

Since aficionados will occasionally have to pay attention to things in the real world such as family, job, or studies, another valuable service would be to offer email alerts to notify them about important moments in the game, such as when their arenas are under attack. Of course, these emails would have a brands’ logo all over them.

I can also see combining branded email with data from another service to add value to the game. For example, a brand could partner with Fitbit to send recap emails to let a trainer know how many steps he/ she’d walked while hunting.

Offer redemption:

The most obvious way for brands to get involved in the game is by turning their locations into PokéStops.

We can see how this might work by looking at a past sponsorship deal like the one for Google’s Ingress, Niantic Lab’s earlier augmented reality game. Ingress’ Portals (like PokéStops) included Jamba Juice locations and Zipcar parking spots. Here, players could get Zipcar driving credits, and Zipcar reps appeared at live events, known in the game’s world as XM Anomaly Events.



In the Pokémon world, retail stores that become PokéStops or gyms could use beacons or other location-based technologies to offer deals and discounts to trainers who showed up. Offers could be redeemed on the spot; there’s the famous discount on a coffee as you’re passing Starbucks, for example. You could also offer coupons, points in a loyalty program, or other perks that could be redeemed later.

Advertisers could also use location technology to offer deals based on a variety of factors including proximity, time of day and weather.

To really make things interesting, stores could tie rewards more directly to the game. Higher-level trainers could get a greater discount on a purchase. “Come in to get 12 percent off your entire order when you reach level 12.” Or, “Capture a Dratini and get a free scone.”

And, what would be the easiest way to retrieve said deals and discounts? You got it: email!

Our recent research in Adestra’s Consumer Adoption study shows that email is the preferred channel for communication from brands and companies among all age groups. It can also be the perfect channel to bridge the fantastic world of Pokémon GO and your multichannel marketing programs.

Oh, and if you’re on the hunt for Poké yourself, make sure not to hurt yourself.