Ironman, business magnate and ingenious scientist.

Captain America, patriotic super soldier.

Thor, the god of thunder.

Each an integral part of The Avengers, an overstuffed collection of superheroes protecting our planet and universe. Shockingly, there’s only one organism who could take on—and beat—The Avengers when fully assembled. And, of course, you guessed it …

It’s a 1-foot, four-inch-tall, yellow, rat-looking creature.

For consecutive weeks, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” knocked the juggernaut that is “Avengers: Endgame” off the top spot in international movie sales. In fact, the flick took in nearly $300 million in its first two weeks and will surely keep climbing throughout the summer, most likely to become one of the top grossing films of the year.

From its own globally aired cartoon series to many memorable appearances on episodes of “The Simpsons,” from becoming a FIFA World Cup mascot to the ongoing and hilarious new red-carpet interviews with Ryan Reynolds (the voice of Detective Pikachu), this favorite yellow character has always been an effective and impressive promotional force over the years. At 7-Eleven, a campaign for the new “Detective Pikachu” film offered up special drinks, toys and more, all to overwhelming success. Even better, one two-story 7-Eleven store in Mexico took the latest promotion to a completely new level, with bolts of neon lights that flashed in sequence all over the building, to floor labels and life-size Pikachu stickers, decals and decorations, all the way to recordings chattering “Pika, Pika!” in the parking lot to a constant stream of customers who couldn’t get enough.

The Pikachu experience in New York City turned into one of the most talked about events that day—globally.

Mark OlsonEncore Live SVP

After all these years, Pikachu is still a one man, er, one … mouse-thingie marketing machine. But for this article, Experiential Review would like to go back to one of our favorite tales in the ever-evolving annals of this specie’s success stories. When, to the shock and ultimate delight of New York City residents and social media viewers worldwide, they watched 20 Pikachus shut down and take over some of the most recognizable landmarks this country has to offer.

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A couple of years ago, you certainly remember Pokémon rolling out their new “walk-around-the-park-and-into-oncoming-traffic-looking-for-a-mythical-monster” experience, called the Pokémon GO app. But what you’ll probably never forget—because it was quite a surreal sight—is the way brand awareness and excitement was generated for the application right there in the greatest city on Earth.

Working with Pokémon to coordinate an “on the go,” “once in a lifetime” event, Encore Live created and secured a scenario where 20 full-sized Pikachu characters walked around the streets of NYC for the better part of a day in costume. Not only did it make perfect sense for the product, as the app encouraged people get out and about, looking to trap monsters, but as a sensational side effect, it was responsible for some of the most striking visuals in advertising history. Trust me, you might not have known it, but you really need to see nearly two dozen Pikachus walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic in both directions.

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The Pikachu army made its way throughout the city to visit many of the most vital spots in Manhattan, from Times Square and the New York Public Library all the way to Penn Square Station. The group of professional choreographers in the costumes had worked nonstop for more than two weeks to perfect walking routines and flash mob dances. And Encore Live had coordinated transportation and hotel rooms throughout the city to ensure no Pikachu was seen out of costume.

As you would have expected, this rolling exercise throughout the day brought Manhattanites outside, trying to find where a Pikachu might turn up next. Even better, the entire event exploded on social media. The city of New York dedicated their entire Snapchat stories to the Pokémon experience, while the event ended up as 19 of the top 20 trending topics on Facebook that day, internationally. Literally, thousands of pictures and videos of each parade were popping up everywhere. And while it was truly an unbelievable logistical feat that took yeoman effort to coordinate and pull off, another welcome benefit was that inside The Nintendo Company it excited and galvanized the corporate culture to one even stronger and prouder than before (and it was already a close-knit organization, as you might expect).

The Pokémon GO brand activation experience was an enormous success. And one that undoubtedly deserves a sequel in the near future, especially with a second “Detective Pikachu” film almost certain to be greenlit. So if you find yourself in, oh, say, Los Angles in the near future, rounding the corner of a building on Rodeo Drive, and you walk smack into the face of a large yellow rat with an electrified tail, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Bruce Wilson

Author Bruce Wilson

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