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Gotta Sell'em All: Companies Using Pokemon Go to Drive Customers

It's not just players who are enjoying Pokémon Go. Businesses are finding a way to use the game to lure in customers, too.
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It's not just players who are enjoying Pokémon Go. Businesses are finding a way to use the game as a marketing opportunity.

Ad agency Huge's, owned by IPG, has an office in Atlanta that's taking it one step further and turning it into an advertising experiment.

Since its public, in-house coffee shop opened in September 2015, it has been the agency's "living breathing laboratory," Huge Atlanta's group creative director Derek Fridman said.

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It just so happens that the coffeehouse sits between two PokéStops, places where players can collect special in-game items, making it the perfect test site for game marketing.

"Games are the easiest way to generate engagement and activity and excitement," said Fridman. "We have nothing to do with Pokémon and the license and brand, yet we can leverage it to our benefit and bring in a cast of characters and celebrate with them."

The free Pokémon Go game has been an unprecedented phenomenon, generating an estimated $14.04 million in revenue since its release on July 6, according to SuperData Research. It helps that Fridman enjoys playing the augmented reality game. He's currently at Level 8 and a member of Team Valor. And agency employees are taking turns holding down the Pokémon Gym at the end of the block .... in the name of research.

To get people to come to the coffeehouse, Huge placed "lure modules" around the stops on Monday that make Pokémon spawn more often in the area. Each module costs as much as $1 for 30 minutes.

"It created great impromptu conversations where people were coming in and just hanging out," Fridman said.

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To further increase the likelihood that someone would buy coffee, Huge added about 25 phone charging stations on Tuesday after finding out that the game drains battery. Fridman believes that the chargers will cause people to stay longer — and buy a cup of coffee — while they're waiting to top up to 100 percent. Huge also offered a promotion where it gave a free steamed bun appetizer to anyone who shows they caught a Pokémon in the shop, with the hopes that those customers will decide to order more food and stay for a full meal.

Other businesses have also used Pokémon Go to their benefit, including New York pizzeria L'inizio Pizza Bar. It sales went up 75 percent over the weekend after the owner spent $10 on "lure modules."

While sales definitely went up on Monday for Huge Atlanta's coffee house, the company is waiting to complete the experiment for a week before releasing results.