StrategyMastering localization: Pokémon’s global competition adds nearly half a million followers

Mastering localization: Pokémon's global competition adds nearly half a million followers

"Different countries have different formats, down to individual clauses. American terms and conditions tend to be around 10 to 15 pages, whereas in the UK it is around two pages. So that's what we call localization.”

Pokémon recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its legendary card game. To mark the quarter century, it created a music album with the help of artists such as Post Malone and Katy Perry. Moreover, it announced a prize competition where fans could win a limited edition 12” vinyl record. With a global audience, this meant considering the localization requirements for each market.

To add to the challenge, Pokémon wished to include under-18s, furthering the complexity of legal adherence. Accordingly, it enlisted the help of the promotion marketing agency PromoVeritas. Running across 17 markets, the competition received over 50,000 entries, with 700 lucky winners. The promotion increased the combined following of Pokémon’s social media by 470,000.

Mark Stern, New Business Director at PromoVeritas, explains the challenge of creating a legally compliant global competition for Pokémon fans.

Localization across seventeen markets

Pokemon 25 Vinyl Album CoverPokémon is a universally beloved brand across all age groups and around the globe. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon card game, it created ‘Pokémon 25: The Album’. Katy Perry, J Balvin, and Post Malone are some of the artists who lent their creative energy to this unique project.

Crucially, Pokémon wanted to deliver a fun experience for its audience. Having been unable to run some in-person events over the past few years, this was a chance for Pokémon lovers to bring the celebration into their own homes.

To honor the 25th anniversary, the limited-edition Vinyl was a throwback to the time of the card game launch. Pokémon had never launched a promotion of this size or scale but wanted to recognize all its fans. It charged PromoVeritas with creating a competition that spanned as many age groups and geographies as possible.

The solution was a meticulously planned competition to win one of 700 vinyl editions of Pokémon 25, running from 7th February to 27th February 2022. It comprised eight distinct steps:

Pokemon 25 & Promoveritas Localization: Website Screenshot 2

  1. Each local region promoted the competition on its Instagram page
  2. Fans followed a link to a custom-built landing page
  3. Fans entered their location to ensure their journey would adhere to local legal requirements
  4. Entrants fill in a form including contact email and marketing preferences.
  5. PromoVeritas randomly select prize draw winners or judge answers for skill-based question entries.
  6. Winners emailed with a clink to claim their prize
  7. Prize draw winners enter their address
  8. Winners receive their prize

Creating this framework meant overcoming three core localization challenges:

  1. Appealing to all demographics

“Pokémon is universal in age demographic, as much as it is universal in countries. That presented one of the biggest challenges in trying to find a promotion that would appeal to all ages.”

  1. Targeting the under-18s

“A large demographic of their audience is below the age of 18. That presents a huge issue because you can’t allow them to enter the promotion. They can’t sign up for any form of contract or terms and conditions. Many countries ban them from entering competitions.

“So, the goal was finding a way for roughly 25% of Pokémon’s market to enter a promotion in a legal and compliant way in all of those countries. This had to be on mass, as the expectation was for 10s of 1000s of entries.”

  1. Legal complexities across borders

“When you run a promotion in multiple countries, you must recognize that you cannot run the same promotion across all markets, much like driving a car. When you cross the border, there are different rules, different regulations, your speed must change, the side of the road might change.”

Building the Pokémon 25 prize draw

Pokemon 25 & Promoveritas Localization: Website Screenshot 1Each component added another complex layer to the process of localization. The increase in following for Pokémon was substantial:

  • Over 50,000 competition entries
  • From 7th February to 27th February 2022, Pokémon’s US Instagram account saw an increase of over 50,000 followers
  • The UK Pokémon account more than doubled its following over the same timeframe

This was a resounding success based on the campaign’s original objectives.

“The main justifiable KPI was to increase followers, which we hit. Secondly, Pokémon has never run a promotion across multiple countries, so we show them it could be done. Thirdly, Pokémon wanted to improve awareness of the 25th anniversary and drive some user-generated content. We saw so much positivity from those who had won a vinyl.”

Legal compliance was also vital. PromoVeritas did so by using the strictest data privacy requirements as a yardstick, translating and localizing terms and conditions for each market, and simplifying the platform to ensure usability. Stern provides insight into each pillar.

Using GDPR as a benchmark

Each of the 17 markets took ownership of its social channel promotion for the competition. They had ownership over messaging (both content and language) and the imagery used. Naturally, the most successful countries were those that posted the competition multiple times.

Social media campaigns from Pokémon pushed people toward the entry sites. Once on the site, customers would then go through a series of geolocation tools to ensure the team knew which country they were based in and to make sure that they were of age.

“Once this had been verified, they could proceed. As legal compliance was vital given the age of some entrants, we opted to abide by GDPR.”

“It’s the strongest of all the data security processes around the world. So, we tend to stick to that. If we stick to those high-level data security policies, we can usually also function in the likes of America, Canada, or South America.”

Localizing terms and conditions

Compliance was maintained by an in-house legal team that engaged a healthy network of lawyers in over 80 different markets. This ensured the team complied with the laws, regulations, taxes, registration fees, and any developments to be aware of when running a promotion.

“Each market was translated into its local language, as were the terms and conditions. Not only did this mean changing the language, but also the method by which terms and conditions are written. In total 11 different sets of terms and conditions were drafted, into 17 different languages.”

“Different countries have different formats, down to individual clauses. American terms and conditions tend to be around 10 to 15 pages, whereas in the UK it is around two pages. So that’s what we call localization.”

Localization can require standardization

The platform itself also had to be universally usable. This meant using as little language as possible and standardizing by using language with which everyone is familiar: Name, email address, and date of birth are all common fields that people understand. Moreover, the entry portal was a simple three-step process: Verification (typically age and location), a form for details, and a thank you message.

The reasons were two-fold:

“Firstly, any more complicated than that and we would potentially put consumers off. We wanted consumers to be able to enter a prize draw within 15 seconds. It was simple and easy to understand.”

“Secondly, and most importantly, it needed to be mobile-device-friendly. Around 85% of our promotions are entered on mobile devices. For an Instagram promotion that pushes you onto a website, it is going to be even higher.”

“To make sure it was user-friendly we ran through every single site and tested it on Android, Apple, tablets, mobile, desktop, and any other form that we could.”

Lessons learned and looking ahead

As this campaign was Pokémon’s first global competition, it was certainly a learning exercise about the challenges involved in delivering a physical prize across multiple geographies. Pokémon and PromoVeritas learned the importance of giving each market as much time as possible to localize. Whilst it ran the campaign in 17 markets, the original aim was 22, with some countries running short on time. Beyond this, it also demonstrated some practical challenges:

“Each country has its postal system. With each system varying in its sophistication, it results in a lot of missed deliveries and returned items, which become expensive. Thinking carefully about the logistics is a must.”

Moreover, PromoVeritas learned much about Pokémon’s audience.

“The demographic of entrants were expected to skew more heavily to a younger audience, under 18 years old. However, there was huge popularity among the middle ground, around 24 years old. Knowing this, we could have targeted the promotion in a slightly different way. But it was incredibly positive to gain followers from the under-18s market. If we hadn’t got the right legal framework in place, we would have missed out on a huge chunk of the audience.”

This experience has equipped Pokémon for future competitions. Not only has it proven that global competition can increase followers and remain legally compliant, but the infrastructure is also now in place to make the process far smoother.

The digital competition entry platform is ready and customizable for future iterations; the legal work is complete for 21 countries, including under-18s; and future costs will be far lower as a result. Pokémon has all the cards in hand to target its global audience with even more localized prize competitions.

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