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Special Project

Special Project
From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

Pokémon Presents Super Pet Contest with Michelle Visage

Entered in Multi-Platform Partnership


The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) were launching Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Pokémon Shining Pearl on Nintendo Switch and they tasked Substance Global (Substance) with creating an online contest to showcase fan’s furry (and non-furry) best friends. In addition to creating and running the contest, the challenge was to also to help Pokémon engage with audiences they wouldn’t traditionally reach by generating earned media coverage to drive awareness and participation in the contest. 

To achieve this goal, Substance identified that it would be vital to the campaign to bring onboard a well-known celebrity ambassador to be the judge for the contest. The celebrity judge needed to be a household name in the target territories of the UK, US, France and Germany. They needed to authentically fit in with the brand whilst also creating excitement for the contest across all markets.

The key goals for the celebrity judge’s involvement surrounded generating coverage upon announcement, taking part in a junket day to complete interviews with entertainment, lifestyle and family press, as well as recording a Winner’s Ceremony video alongside iconic Pokémon character, Pikachu, to announce the winning entries. 

KPIs for ambassador activity and the wider the campaign included:

Strategy and Execution

To find the perfect Pokémon Presents Super Pet Contest judge, Substance used data insights to understand user engagement across the target markets. Tools included, Brandwatch, SparkToro, Google Trends, Google News and Twitter’s advanced search.

Using the data as a guide, Substance shortlisted candidates who were the best fit in terms of audience, social platforms, media interest and sentiment. First choice was Michelle Visage, a hugely popular personality and best-known for her role as a lead judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Visage has a strong presence across her social channels, great engagement on Twitter and a strong following on Instagram; social conversation and sentiment around her is very positive; and, most importantly, is a genuine Pokémon fan who could be an authentic spokesperson for the brand. She had even tweeted, asking that Pokémon remake Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl ahead of the titles’ announcement in February 2021.

The Drag Race community is known for being one of the most vocal across the globe. Substance used Michelle’s star power within the fandom to grow the opportunity for organic content via posts, memes and fan-created content. 

Substance utilised Michelle’s celebrity appeal and positioned her front and centre of the PR campaign as the judge and ambassador for the contest, working closely with her to secure a minimum of 2x in-feed social posts and 3x Instagram stories promoting the Super Pet Contest and release of the video games. Substance knew that the campaign needed strong content to engage with the target audiences. 

The partnership with Michelle included a content capture day at a London pet café, including photoshoot, press interviews, and recording of the Winners’ Ceremony. 

Through the team's media knowledge and experience, Substance used our internal PR database to identify relevant target media with strong monthly unique users and readerships, who had an interest in Michelle and/or Pokémon across print, online and broadcast media. We invited these publications to the junket day to reach a broad range of target audiences across gaming, lifestyle, entertainment, family and LGBTQIA+ outlets. Broadcast interviews with Fun Kids Radio and ITN’s TV network were also completed and ran post-contest to promote the release of the games on Nintendo Switch and engage a new audience.

The Winners’ Ceremony, hosted by Michelle and Pikachu, premiered on Pokémon’s YouTube featuring 3 minutes of gameplay to drive awareness of the game. A press release was syndicated to generate further press coverage from gaming and family outlets.

While COVID restrictions meant it wasn’t possible for European press to complete face-to-face interviews, we arranged virtual opportunities for French and German outlets. Substance resolved other Covid-related safety challenges by implementing strict regulations including PCR tests for attendees ahead of the junket day, lateral flows upon arrival, mask-wearing and social distancing measures. 

We worked around Michelle’s busy schedule and other commitments by securing additional virtual interview time that could be completed in breaks between filming for her other projects. This flexible approach from both parties meant we were still able to secure maximum coverage.


Substance were thrilled with the success of the Super Pet Contest to promote the release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Pokémon Shining Pearl. Michelle Visage’s involvement enabled us to achieve our objectives and spread the word with a truly multi-platform campaign, which spanned media including print, broadcast, online, as well as social coverage across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

The campaign performed well against our set KPIs achieving:

Michelle’s participation generated a significant amount of anecdotal positive sentiment on social media upon announcement and even encouraged the creation of her very own Pokémon fan art and cultural crossover memes. 

The campaign also achieved:

Finally, we also discovered that turtles are the pet most commonly named Michelle!


Video for Pokémon Presents Super Pet Contest with Michelle Visage

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Substance Global, The Pokémon Company International


Entry Credits