"2011 is set be a blockbuster year for the Pokémon brand,” says J.C. Smith, director of consumer marketing at The Pokémon Company International. “Our fans and retailers will experience one of the most exciting years since Pokémon’s introduction in 1996, with new video games, television animation, a Pokémon Trading Card Game expansion and merchandise all launching this spring and summer.”
Kicking off the activity for the iconic brand was the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games, which were released in the UK last month and feature over 150 new Pokémon.
In Japan, the games sold a total of five million copies in just 17 weeks, making them the fastest selling titles ever for the Nintendo DS. This exceeds the previous record, set by Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version, which took 38 weeks to hit the five million mark in Japan.
To keep up brand momentum, the games will be backed up by new expansions for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, fresh merchandise and a new animated TV series.
New products will include expansions for the Pokémon TCG, launching in the UK through Esdevium Games on April 6th, and toys featuring the new characters will arrive later in the year.
The brand will be supported with a multi-million pound marketing campaign alongside the launch of a UK targeted version of the pokemon.com website.
The initial TCG product line will be followed by expansion pack boosters.
The cards allow collectors and players to discover a legion of over 70 never-before-seen Pokémon from the newly explored Unova region. Joining the old favourites Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle are the new starter Pokémons: Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott. They are flanked by powerful new monsters like Zoroark, Galvantula, Reuniclus.
The trading cards will receive a new look, increasing the size of the design and adding a new unique foil treatment to the rare Pokémon cards.
Also arriving with the Black & White Theme Decks is an interactive online experience: Pokémon Trainer Challenge.
The all-new online version of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (www.pokemontcg.com) will initially feature three pre-constructed Pokémon TCG decks for players to choose from, allowing for battles against up to 14 virtual TCG players in three leagues. The web game fully replicates the rules, gameplay and strategy of the physical card game.
Ensuring the brand awareness and entertainment continues on the airwaves, the latest season of the children’s animated series is slated to air later this year on CITV. The first two episodes of the new Pokémon series have already premiered on CITV, and in February and viewers were able to see the movie premiere of Pokémon - Zoroark: Master of Illusions during the half-term period.
The latest TV season introduces children to the new Pokémon characters in a new storyline based on the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games.
It’s not just cards though, as a new toy line featuring the characters is set to hit retailers this coming year.
There will be a wide range of UK-focused content available for the first time at www.pokemon.co.uk, along with localised sites for the French, German, Spanish and Italian markets.
With the fan base of the international site, pokemon.com, continually growing and reaching upwards of 2.4 million unique visitors per month, these figures are set to rise with the territorial expansion. The website is designed to be the central hub of all of the property’s information and activity and will provide a home for the global Pokémon community.