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Pokemon Go promotion backfires

Involving a celebrity with the Pokemon Go obsession may seem like a golden marketing opportunity, but for one Hong Kong shopping mall the combination has been a screw-up.

Chrissie ChauWith the game not yet officially available in Hong Kong, actress Chrissie Chau claimed on her Facebook site that she would be the first to catch the augmented-reality (AR) game fever. With the heading “Exclusive Pokemon Go Real Live”, she announced she would do a live stream on Facebook.

However, it turned out to be a video of Chau dressed in a Pokemon costume, pretending to be Pikachu. Later, some net users discovered that it was a promotional event Chau was working on with a shopping mall.

This prompted an angry reaction from more than 10,000 internet users in Hong Kong, disappointed that it was just a gimmick and criticising the marketing stunt. Many used Facebook’s “angry” expression, and many left comments describing the the event as a “prank” and even a “PR disaster”.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s Japan will be the first paying sponsor of Pokemon Go as the game launches there. It will be the first advertiser to test out Pokemon Go’s new sponsored location feature, reports Marketing magazine.

With the fast-food chain confirming the collaboration, the game in which players use smartphones to search for virtual creatures layered over images of the real world is officially stepping into advertising. In return, McDonald’s Japan will host more than 3000 of its outlets as “gyms” or battle sites for players.

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