Pokemon Diamond and Pearls marketing strategy lacking outside of Japan

After over 10 years as one of the world's most popular entertainment and gaming franchises, Pokemon video games are once again shattering sales even long after the Japanese launch.

In Japan, Pokemon Ranger was a vital part of the 4th Generation promotion, allowing users to receive the legendary Manaphy. Information regarding the Japanese launch of Pokemon Ranger was first published in the July 2005 issue of CoroCoro Comic Magazine. As expected, vague details were released, hinting that it was a game and a movie. The “official” Pokemon Ranger announcement came on as a short teaser at the end of the 8th Pokemon movie, over a half a year in advance, with further announcements each month in the popular CoroCoro magazine. Later, the game was promoted on TV during commercials, in magazines like CoroCoro, and even during the anime itself, as well as in the weekly Pokemon Sunday episodes. All of these advertisements showcased the fact that you needed Pokemon Ranger to get Manaphy if you wanted it in the upcoming Diamond and Pearl games.

In North America, however, Manaphy's code was promoted on Pokemon.com only two weeks prior to its release. Coming with no real promotion and without showing gamers why Pokemon Ranger was so important in the next generation of games, this resulted in lackluster North American sales. In Europe, the game will be released on April 13th 2007, only a week before the North American release of Diamond and Pearl. Such delays are inexcusable as this just forces users from those countries to import or pirate.

So to follow up on the 'successful' Pokemon Ranger advertising campaign in North America, we get the worst Pokemon commercial in history: an ad that would probably appeal more to the Japanese than American viewers with its 'Godzilla-like' style. In a 30 second commerical, there were barely 2 seconds of game footage! Watch the two clips below and decide for yourself which of the two is better.

To follow Pokemon's TV ad campaign, we get monthly magazine articles about the game in Nintendo Power, similar to the ones printed in CoroCoro and Famitsu. As Pokemon is now one of Nintendo's flagship franchises, you'd think they would print accurate information in their official publications, but unfortunately this isn't the case. In the April 2007 Nintendo Power (seen in the right picture), they announced the names of the two main Pokemon that Diamond and Pearl are based on. They mislabeled them by reversing the names. You'd think something that important would have been caught before publication. In the May issue of Nintendo Power they posted a correction notice. (See Below). So Palkia is actually Dialga?

As the Internet has now become one of the most popular ways to promote products, websites have become increasingly important in disseminating information to potential consumers. There are two official Pokemon websites for the Japanese versions of Diamond and Pearl, http://pokemon.kids.yahoo.co.jp/dp/ and http://www.pokemon.co.jp/ Each week before the launch of the game, new information was posted about the game including: screenshots, videos, new pokemon, new moves, etc. This generated a ton of media hype for the upcoming games as visitors were eager to see what the new features would be. These websites were updated all the way up to launch and still get various updates months after the launch. In North America, there are also two official websites promoting the games, http://www.pokemon.com and http://www.pokemon-games.com/ Both of these sites are sorely lacking compared to their Japanese counterparts. Pokemon.com information is limited to just a handful of pages with screenshots from the Japanese game while pokemon-games.com has 2 wallpapers, the above 'Godzilla' commercial, and a few screenshots. With only 2 weeks till the game is launched, there is still a huge banner on the side saying the "Full Site Coming Soon". Great marketing there, the game will be out before the site is finished. Pokemon-games.com also has a feature that lets you click on Pokeballs to learn about some of the new Pokemon. It only lets you click on one Pokeball a day and then a message appears telling the visitor to return the next day to view another Pokeball. In theory this is a good idea to get people to return to the site each day, but a quick visit to any Pokemon fansite will let the user view all of the new Pokemon and game information in an easy-to-read format.

All this being said, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl will probably be the top-selling game of the year on any platform, so a major marketing commitment isn't required to sell these games. Marketing helped the hype in Japan for Diamond and Pearl but in North America there still doesn't seem to be too much hype for these new games. What the marketing should have been focusing on was getting all the previous Pokemon gamers that have moved on to other games back playing Pokemon. Also it should have focused on getting users that have never played a Pokemon game at all interested in Diamond and Pearl instead of focusing on the pre-order gifts.

Even within the fan base, alienation continues, as for the second time PokemonPalace.net's trivia quiz has ground to a halt as suddenly support is pulled at the last moment. A contest that could only have raised anticipation, and has to be worth a few smaller prizes at least in advertising. But no, somehow, it's better to dash people's hopes... I can't say I'm not disappointed...

So with only a few weeks till launch, we hope your getting excited as much as we are. We at #PocketMonsters are looking forward to online battles with great anticipation. Just don't get us started on these daft friends codes and connecting on WFC with MKDS.

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article. Please feel free to comment on our forums by visiting this thread.

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