The international phenomenon surrounding the mobile game Pokémon Go has captured the attention of marketers. As we have discussed before, until Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go, makes sponsorship more readily available, marketers in the U.S. and across the globe have found interesting and innovative ways to latch onto the Pokémon Go craze. The promise of sponsorship was underscored when Pokémon Go launched in Japan along with the announcement that McDonald’s had entered into a sponsorship arrangement whereby its 3,000 restaurants in Japan would be PokeStops and the “golden arches” logo would appear on the gyroscope image that enables players to obtain pokeballs, eggs, incense and other virtual items that are critical to effective gameplay.
Yesterday, a second sponsorship was announced. SoftBank, the Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation, announced that approximately 3,700 SoftBank-branded stores and Y!mobile-branded stores in Japan will appear as ‘PokéStops’ or ‘Gyms’ in the Pokémon Go game from September onward. It was also reported that additional promotional campaigns exclusive to SoftBank may be planned in the future connected to this arrangement. It is still unclear when and in what form U.S. companies will be able to enter into similar sponsorship deals.