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Pokémon Go — brand learnings and who ultimately wins

by Mike Abel (@abelmike) The global phenomenon of Pokémon Go 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 known company, called Niantic, was the big winner and that Pokémon Go was, in many ways, a skin or wrapper around its three-year-old augmented reality game, Ingress.

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

Immense opportunities

If you were to apply a short-term mindset after discovering the short-term income beneficiaries, you’d sell. Which many did. The share price of Nintendo is roughly where it was a year ago. Investors have largely excluded that one of the company’s most-powerful and previously Dormant assets, the Pokémon 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 £18m off sales of a stuffed toy named Monty the Penguin as a result of his featuring in its 2015 Christmas ad. Just imagine the opportunities for leveraging the Pokemon brand well beyond the game.

Useful observations

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

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

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

Many companies have hugely powerful assets lying dormant. Instagram’s biggest competitor should be Kodak. I mean really. To have a multibillion 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.

Hardwired into our childhood memories

About 12 years ago, I was briefed by a client on a brand called Melrose Cheese. Nowhere in the brief for its 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.

The most-powerful reason

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

Mike Abel (@abelmike) ‎is chief executive partner at M&C Saatchi Abel. This article has been republished with permission from his blog, Mike & Friends.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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Pokémon Go — brand learnings and who ultimately wins


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