Pokémon Go, Dance Parties & Marketing: A Primer For Producers
Pokémon Go went from “eagerly anticipated” to “Can you get off my lawn please?” in less than a week. We’ve seen our fair share of stupid Facebook & Twitter posts, but if you work in the industry, you probably noticed a handful of PR people, event producers & venue liaisons doing very smart Pokemon related things on Friday/Saturday nights. To help prevent a bunch of tone deaf marketing and bad ideas, here are a pile of Pokémon Go related promotion tips for you, your social media marketing person, your head bartender or event promoter can do to get trainers into your event, for longer than just how long it takes them to find that Charmeleon they’ve been tracking all night.
Understand the difference between Lure Modules & Incense. Using these two items is the least complex way to get people in the door at your party, bar or brunch place. For the adultier adults in the room, Lure Modules and Incense are used to “attract” Pokémon to a specific location. Incense attaches to a “trainer” (think, a phone in someone’s pocket) while the Lure Module attaches to a “PokeStop” that not only displays who drops it, but also covers the whole area where the beacon is. They both last 30min, so if you’ve got a 6hr event, you want to make sure one of either is on from open to close. That’s right, your PR budget includes PokeCoin purchases, starting now.
Lure Modules seem to cover an entire venue, while incense only covers the immediate area around the trainer who dropped it. So, depending on the size of the venue you’re attempting to coat in Pokémon, you might need multiple incense drops to cover the same space. As a side note, we don’t have good data on exactly how far both of these items reach yet, so this could change in the coming days/weeks as Pokémon Go updates & users nail down more hard info.
The difference in Pokémon appearance rates between a place with a lure & without a lure seems to be pretty significant, so you may see some people staying around just because of that. This is the easiest, lowest effort way to get people in the door. You get access to both of these items as the “trainer” gains levels, so don’t just install the game at 9pm on a Friday and expect to be able to do everything described in this post. If you do, you’re gonna need to send an intern out to catch pokémon and level before the headliner comes on.
While this seems pretty obvious, I saw PR people misusing it this weekend. The obvious idea of “drop incense & stay on the dance floor” is not only awful, it will mess up the density of your dance floor. If attendees are constantly wandering onto the dance floor because an employee dropped incense on his trainer, and is roving/walking through heavily populated areas of the venue, guess who is following them? All those peeps on their phone looking to score a Bulbasaur. Have the trainer with the incense hang out by the bar, or a chill space, not right in front of the DJ booth.
Think about how to reward Pokemon Go users for visiting. This seems like an after thought, but we’ve already started to see two main reward systems. The first involves dropping your own Lures & Incense, then rewarding attendees who catch Pokemon with drink tickets or discounts to future events. If you’ve got girls running around VIP looking for Pokemon, if one of them finds a really good one, maybe think about offering a reward of a trip to the DJ booth or some other spot in the club. That will generate use & tension between all of the party people who want to “win,” which keeps them in your house for longer.
The second way to reward players is to reward them for using their own Lure Modules & Incense. This one is easier on your wallet as a PR manager, but also seems a little cheap/greasy to the people who play the game. I’ve seen it on a chalkboard/on Facebook for a couple of events over the weekend, but it’s not foolproof. If none of your attendees play Pokémon Go, or are unwilling to use their own items, you’re out of luck. Giving out a vodka & soda for someone using an item that costs real money (even though the item only exists digitally) may cause some people to crinkle their nose and judge you. You know your community, so don’t risk it if you think they won’t be into it.
Figure out who will “own” the account that you’ll use to draw in Pokémon trainers. This is a less important point, but it’s really easy to get caught up with the minute-to-minute logistics of running a party. If you don’t get people to actively monitor lure/incense levels, or if you realize the person who has all of the lures isn’t working today, you’ll find that you’ve spent a lot of money for no benefit. This is more of a back-of-house thing, but it’s really easy to forget with everything else going on in event management.
Understand the team system & how to exploit it. In Pokemon Go, once you hit level 5, you can join one of the 3 “Teams”: Mystic (Blue), Valor (Red) or Instinct (Yellow). The 3 teams have quickly developed their own rivalries and have die hard supporters already, even though we haven’t even seen 2 weekends of play yet. The easiest way to exploit this is to do what CitySen lounge did, illustrated above. Declare your allegiance to one team and watch the supporters roll in. This is the idea one of your bar backs probably suggested, and while it’s not entirely without merit, it is risky, for a couple of reasons.
First, we don’t have good data on how popular each team is in a given area, which means you could align yourself with a team that only has kids on it, or a team that only has 10 people living or working in that area. You could look at who is holding gyms around you, but that isn’t a good representation of foot traffic or 21+ population.
Secondly, you could piss off the other teams. Having a reason to go to a bar is somewhat motivational, but having even an arbitrary reason to NOT got to a party is potentially deadly, as many people just need one crappy reason to blacklist a venue or a bar. And nothing would be stupider than having to explain to the venue manager the party on Saturday didn’t meet its bar guarantee because all of Team Valor decided to talk shit about your space on the internet, especially when your boss probably has no idea what Team Valor is.
One great way to take advantage of the teams is to exploit their competitive natures. If you tell your attendees that the team that captures the most pokémon at your event will get 5 bucks off the next party or a drink ticket for each member, expect your attendees to spend hours trying to beat the others, especially if you maintain a counter that’s visible from the dance floor.
Additionally, setting up color coded tip jars or telling attendees to pick a team each time they buy a drink could lead to an exceptional amount of competition and potentially a non-trivial amount of binge drinking. So be careful with this stuff. Exploiting rivalries is potent, but also starts drunken wars. Just ask soccer fans.
Finally, know the crowd you serve and try not to be stupid or gawdy. While this is an exceptional idea for a lot of parties, if you’re making the vast majority of your nightly revenue from bottle service, using a cartoon or a cell phone game might not be the optimal marketing tactic. However, if you know for a fact all of your table purchasers are tech nerds from the Bay, tally ho into the wilderness. They’d probably appreciate the novel marketing method.Play safe, don’t walk into traffic & make sure your eggs are in your incubators when you hit the dance floor this weekend. You wouldn’t want to spend 4 hours dancing & then realize none of those steps counted for hatching that rare egg you’re excited about, would you?