Pokemon 2000 World Championships
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Pokemon 2000 World Championships

What started as a casual idea during an internal conversation this past May at E3 2000 about how to take Pokémon to the next level, steamrolled into an international project and global event.

Paul Holmes

The Pokémon phenomenon that took over the hearts of American kids just two years ago has also taken the world by storm.  The franchise has become one of the world’s most recognizable cultural and retail phenomenons in recent history.   What started as a casual idea during an internal Nintendo/Golin/Harris conversation this past May at E3 2000 about how to take Pokémon to the next level, steamrolled into an international project and global event designed to communicate the universal language and worldwide success of Pokémon. 
 
Over a few short months, the Golin/Harris Los Angeles and London offices in cooperation with Nintendo of America, Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo of Australia, conducted weekly conference calls (2:30 p.m. Pacific Time; 12:30 a.m. in Germany and 7:30 a.m. Melbourne time) to plan a Pokémon 2000 World Championship in Sydney during the 2000 Summer Olympics and crown one player the world’s true “Master Trainer.”  Golin/Harris Los Angeles was challenged to develop a program suitable to national American media audiences and to ensure synergy between the U.S., European, and Australia PR efforts.  Over the summer, media was beginning to become Poké-saturated, resulting in a decline in positive media coverage.  Internally, G/H Los Angeles was in midst of generating consumer and media interest for four Pokémon titles including the launch of the much anticipated Pokémon Gold and Silver – effectively introducing the second wave of the phenomenon.   However, the power of Pokémon never ceases to amaze and G/H LA was able to reach its objectives through a strategic and tiered program.
 
PLANNING:
 
Objectives:

       Secure national U.S. visibility for search to determine America’s best Pokémon Stadium player and World Championship in Sydney, Australia

       Leverage U.S. program to build overall momentum for Pokémon brand going into the Holiday season

       Build a cohesive communications plan for World Championship for each participating country to emulate (Pokémon Stadium Prime Cup rules)
 
Strategies:

       Communicate Pokémon’s global reach and popularity through international kids competition

       Leverage immense media attention focused on 2000 Summer Olympics to generate global visibility for Pokémon Park 2000 and Championship

       Secure national media interest and coverage in each participating country, culminating in Sydney Finals

       Coordinate with Nintendo Australia and G/H U.K. to ensure programs synergy
 
Target Audiences:

       Pokémon players (all ages)

       National and regional consumer media (print, broadcast, online)

       Sports media
 
EXECUTION:
 
Phase I –USA Championship
 
Building Brand Momentum:  Let the Games Begin
To kick-off global, national and regional consumer and media awareness of Pokémon 2000 World Championship, G/H LA drafted a global press release announcing the World Championship which was issued simultaneously on August 23 around  the world and translated, where appropriate G/H LA followed up with a second announcement on September 2 designed to generate national/regional consumer and media awareness of Pokémon 2000 USA Champion
 
Thunder for Down Under Contest – Pikachu’s Search for America’s Best Pokémon Master
By partnering with Wizard of the Coasts, G/H hosted regional tournaments at four retail locations and coordinated simultaneous events on August 12th in four markets: Seattle, San Diego, Dallas/Ft. Worth, New York/Long Island. The regional winner from each location was then flown with a parent to Nintendo’s Seattle headquarters for the Pokémon 2000 USA Championship
 
To garner additional national visibility and lend a “human interest” angle to the program, G/H developed biographies for the four regional winners:  Nick Vu (Seattle), Kurt Handley (San Diego), Rudy Morales Jr. (Fort Worth) and Ian Garvey (New York), and posted them on Pokemon.com with a photo.  The event was designed to coincide with the culmination of the European Championships in London.
 
Pokémon 2000 USA Championship
G/H LA coordinated USA Finals in Seattle and hosted regional winners from each of the four cities.  During Labor Day weekend, anticipation was built through a tour of Nintendo and group dinner at Seattle’s wharf, with a “Breakfast of Champions” and a chauffeured Pokémobile escort to the competition 
 
As the U.S. winner was selected, we serviced an AP Photo and satellite B-roll feed with footage from the event and interviews with the winner, Ian Garvey, and conducted media outreach in his hometown of New Hope, Pennsylvania to secure coverage leading up to the Sydney finals
 
Phase II – Global Pokémon Championships
 
The first tier of the program was to determine the USA representative in Sydney and secure media coverage for the regional and national events.  The second half of the program was designed to maintain momentum and further secure media interest of the World Championships.
 
U.S. Media Outreach
Conducted targeted media outreach geared to national media, especially NBC affiliates (NBC is official network of the games) and pursued media attending Sydney Olympics to cover USA Pokémon champion and Pokémon’s Global Reach
 
U.S. Consumer Outreach
Coordinated Global Pokémon Championships Diary page on Pokemon.com featuring daily entries of USA Champion (Sept. 2 - 23)
 
Coordinated Efforts in Sydney
Coordinated with G/H U.K. to ensure camaraderie among American and European champions including sightseeing trips, dinners and other group activities 
Coordinated with Nintendo of Australia for all on-site schedules, housing, transportation and Olympic events
Coordinated with Nintendo of Australia’s media team to secure local Sydney media interest and reach American media on-site in Sydney
Coordinated with Nintendo of Germany’s photographer to capture photo featuring USA Champion appropriate for America distribution
Coordinated with G/H U.K.’s broadcast vendor to develop an-all inclusive b-roll and supervised edited version appropriate for American distribution
Coordinated with G/H U.K. and Nintendo of Australia on the global distribution of Champion press release
 
EVALUATION:
 
Nearly 16 million U.S. consumer impressions, and 171 million European impressions were garnered as result of the three-tiered program that ventured from a national search for America’s Best Pokémon player to the crowning of the USA Champion and culminated in a trip “down under” for the Pokémon 2000 World Championship.  Coverage included segments on top-tier national outlets, including CNN Headline News, Time Magazine, Radio Disney, Reuters and AP Television.   The success of the program truly had a global reach as each participating country had similar success locally, most notably Europe where Pokémon is riding the first wave of success with more than 11 million Pokémon games sold to date.  The key to the program was developing, early on, a cohesive consortium among all participating countries.

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