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The world is PokemonGo crazy. But what can brands learn from it and who ultimately wins?

August 17, 2016

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Credit for illustration by Pawel Kuczynski.

The global phenomenon of PokemonGo had horny investors rushing off to buy Nintendo shares and the market cap of the company more than doubled in just days. But nobody bothered to follow the revenue flows until a few weeks later when it transpired that a lesser know company called Niantic was the big winner and that PokemonGo was in many ways a skin or wrapper around their 3 year old augmented reality game, Ingress.

Niantic, having now created a media channel and future advertising revenue, may seem to have won with PokemonGo – but Nintendo has an invaluable brand asset they can leverage… again.

If you were to apply a short-term mindset after discovering the short-term income beneficiaries – you’d sell. Which many did. In fact the share price of Nintendo is pretty much exactly where it was a year ago.

Investors have largely excluded the fact that one of the companies’ most powerful and previously dormant assets, the Pokemon brand, has once again become relevant globally and the opportunities that present themselves are immense.

Take John Lewis for example. The UK retailer has made around £18 million off sales of a stuffed toy named Monty the Penguin as a result of him featuring in their 2015 Christmas ad. Just imagine the opportunities for leveraging the Pokemon brand well beyond the game.

There are a few very useful observations in exploring the symbiotic collaboration between Niantic and Nintendo.

Ingress had all the ingenuity and brilliance built into it, but as a largely unknown brand, they couldn’t break into the mainstream. On the other hand, Nintendo had the powerful, yet dormant Pokemon brand, but didn’t have the Niantic tech.

And that is the power of a brand. To have more people on PokemonGo within 2 weeks than Twitter has had since inception.

Many companies have hugely powerful assets lying dormant. Instragram’s biggest competitor should be Kodak. I mean really. To have a multi-billion dollar brand just sitting there doing virtually nothing, when you own “memories”. You’d imagine cellphone manufacturers would love to use the brand for their handsets seeing as cameras, sharing, social media etc are a leading reason for use, rather than the making of calls.

About 12 years ago I was briefed by a client on a brand called Melrose Cheese. Nowhere in the brief for their new TV ad did it mention the iconic line or jingle “Mum remembered Melrose”. So we asked about it. The answer came back that “it’s lost relevance” and “consumers are bored with it”. This made no sense as although it hadn’t been used in years, it was richly hardwired into our childhood memories, and now for us as parents, we’d have an obvious love and affinity for the brand property.

Given the complete absence of research to justify that it wasn’t a powerful asset, we persuaded the client to let us to dust it off and bring it back. It was a resounding success at the tills.

So, if you’re in marketing, look at your dormant brands and brand assets carefully. Then look at other companies’ dormant brands and assets and consider interesting collaborations. Where others may have innovation and where you may have the loved brand.

When all is said and done, historically the brand is the most powerful reason why someone chooses to do business with your company versus another. In 2016, ease and convenience are the ultimate determinants – wrap your well-loved but possibly dormant brand around that and you’ll have something truly remarkable.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 17, 2016 12:37 pm

    Your melrose quote has reminded me of so many slogans that are just waiting to be tickled by there parent companies again things that can’t be unsaved or deleted!!

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