TOKYO: McDonald's, the quick service restaurant chain, has become the first brand to roll out a Pokémon GO partnership after the game launched last week in Nintendo's native Japan.
Although smaller businesses have been using the app to drive foot traffic, McDonald's is the first global brand officially to partner the mobile gaming phenomenon with a “sponsored location” deal, TechCrunch reported.
The company has just under 3,000 stores in Japan, which have become designated “Gym” and “PokeStop” spots, drawing players to the restaurants while playing the game.
In an extension of the brand tie-up, McDonald's Japan is also featuring Pokémon figurines as giveaways for its Happy Meals menu, a move which saw its share price soar even before the game itself launched in Japan, Bloomberg reported.
Nintendo has previously worked with McDonald's in Japan to offer free access to Nintendo content. Although the current partnership with Pokémon GO is limited to McDonald's stores in Japan, the arrangement provides a hint as to what other partnership deals may look like as the Pokémon craze continues unabated.
The brand partnership is seen by commentators as a savvy move as McDonald's Japan bounces back from a series of food safety issues earlier in the year.
"The tie-up with Pokémon will turn McDonald's from a mere hamburger restaurant into something new and different, like a place where people gather and hang out," said Seiichiro Samejima, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute.
"The best scenario is that Japan McDonald's will get back all the customers it has lost from the food safety scandals."
The development comes after a recent report by SurveyMonkey revealed that Pokémon Go is pulling in revenues at twice the average rate for casual games – at least in the US. Retention rates are also double the industry average, the report found.
Data sourced from TechCrunch, Bloomberg, SurveyMonkey; additional content by Warc staff