July 15, 2016

Pokemon GO brings AR to the masses


Admittedly, if you’re not of a certain age, the whole Pokemon thing may have passed you by. On the other hand, if you were between 5-15 years old at any point between 1996 (Pokemon’s Japanese launch on Game Boy) and 1998 (release date for the first Pokemon movie and for me, peak Pokemon), then it is a real possibility you’ve often dreamt of running into the wilds to find mythical creatures and capture them.

I certainly have. And as you may have gathered by reading any of the stories around the newly released mobile game Pokemon GO, now I can. Its mix of gameplay and augmented reality (AR) has taken over the news stories this week. Here’s why it matters to employer branding.

We’ve pulled up virtual and augmented reality as the future of social media before, but Pokemon GO helps us picture it even more. Imagine links to your careers website, the contact details of a recruiter or the locations of your outlets popping up on the mobile screens of candidates when they’re engaging in an AR app. And plenty of people love new tech.

Let’s not get carried away however. The millions who have downloaded Pokemon GO haven’t done it because it supports new tech. It’s because, like in the very best employer branding, there’s an emotional connection (in this case nostalgia). And candidates know they’ll love a role not because of the transactional stuff – salary, benefits, tech – but because of the fulfilment, opportunities, culture, environment and the overall feeling. The emotional stuff. Just like the people who want to walk around town with a Pokedex iPhone, pleased as punch and feeling just like a kid again.

So, finally. Bet you’ve never heard of a mobile AR game featuring GPS integration, team based interactivity, and a solid plot until Pokemon GO’s release. But a similar game, called Ingress, has been around for years. Pokemon of course never started as a mobile game. It’s proof that when you’re doing anything that builds awareness of an employer brand, you’re also building collateral you can rely on in the future. Whatever you decide to do with it.