Towards the end of July 2019, something huge happened in Pokémon GO. No, it wasn’t a result of a new wave of Pokémon or a Legendary Pokémon, but instead it was the epic arrival of our first Pokémon GO team of villains, Team GO Rocket!
For context, Team GO Rocket is a villainous organization whose current mission in Pokémon GO includes taking over PokéStops and stealing in-game items, turning Pokémon into Shadow Pokémon, and challenging our Trainers to battles. Fans of the Pokémon franchise recognize this devious group due to their similarities with their parent organization, Team Rocket. Team GO Rocket’s arrival was a major milestone that helped to grow the Pokémon GO narrative and gave our Trainers (no matter what Team they’re on) something to rally around - defending our world from Team GO Rocket.
Our objective for this campaign was to generate excitement among our core community around Team GO Rocket’s debut in the game. With Team GO Rocket’s arrival being the first time we introduced interactive NPCs into our in-game map, we knew that we had to give them a proper, epic, introduction into Pokémon GO.
When considering ways we could launch this feature, we decided to lean into Niantic’s unique strengths and building on the narrative that Pokémon already created around Team Rocket. Among our core audience, Team GO Rocket’s parent organization, Team Rocket, is already known to takeover parts of the Pokémon world, so why move away from the perfect formula? With Niantic games rooted in real world destinations, we knew that we were in a unique position to introduce this group through an in-game experience that blurred the line between the digital and real-world. This is when we decided to do a global Team GO Rocket takeover!
Team GO Rocket Global Takeover
Starting in July, we started teasing Team GO Rocket’s arrival by having them make subtle appearances in-game. Afterwards, Team GO Rocket proceeded to takeover our in-game destinations in NYC, then all of our communication/social channels, and then the entire world for 24 hours! Here’s how we used each of our channels:
During the summer we hosted multiple events called “Pokémon GO Fests” where we surprised attendees by having a physical hot air balloon with the Team GO Rocket logo fly over the event venue that we later shared across social channels. We also had generic appearing Pokémon GO ads in NYC that were later “taken over” by Team GO Rocket and a plane with a banner rallying our Trainers in NYC to drive out Team GO Rocket.
In order to mimic a real-world takeover for our marketing campaign, we dialed up Team GO Rocket’s takeover of in-game locations progressively and in select cities leading up to their global takeover. We then had them take over 100% of in-game destinations in New York City which later spread to each time zone around the world for 24 hours.
We used our Twitter channel to guide the campaign’s narrative. During Team GO Rocket’s takeover, Team GO Rocket took over our Twitter channel, which resulted in some hilarious jokes and served to humanize Team GO Rocket while allowing a brand account to lean more into a fun and lighthearted voice.
Our Instagram content on the day of the Team GO Rocket takeover was unique to the platform and referenced trends that a casual Instagrammer would normally see on a daily basis such as selfies, aspirational travel photos, and hashtags like #Follow4Follow.
On the day of our NYC takeover, we leveraged the geo-tagging feature on Facebook to point our Trainers to the site of our Team GO Rocket ads. This later resulted in Trainers taking photos in these locations and sharing them on social as a way to confirm Team GO Rocket sightings.
After the Team GO Rocket NYC takeover, all Pokémon GO channels temporarily “shut down” for 24 hours as a way to further hype our Trainers around the impending global takeover. During this time, we hosted our first 24 hour livestream that served as a countdown clock for players and press to speculate what was to come.
In the end, our Team GO Rocket takeover campaign performance and reception truly blasted away our expectations, making it our best performing Pokémon GO social campaign of 2019. While they can still be found lingering in the shadows in Pokémon GO, we’re proud to know that our Trainers are willing to band together, regardless of their team, to fight back against Team GO Rocket.
Over the course of the main two weeks of this Team GO Rocket Global takeover campaign we saw:
- 250% increase in weekly total social media impressions
- 300% increase in weekly total social media engagements
- Over 200,000 new followers across our social channels.
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