If you happen to live near or pass by a Target store at some point during the day, you may have noticed that the retailer recently took on a more Pokémon-centric theme.
At select locations, the iconic Target logo and red spheres were reworked to resemble pokeballs from the popular Pokémon series.
Target must be doing a deal with Pokémon? pic.twitter.com/6qIrdiTSDq
— Chris Pirillo (@ChrisPirillo) August 16, 2016
At first glance, it's clear that Target was jumping aboard the Pokémon hype train, but what exactly that entailed was anyone's guess. All that's known, according a Target representative, is that 400 Target locations will be about Pokémon for the foreseeable future.
The immediate assumption is that Target and Niantic/the Pokémon Company were entering a partnership, effectively making it the first American sponsor for the hit mobile game. The timing would make sense too: Despite Pokémon GO debuting in the U.S. in early July, the game has yet to receive official support from a major chain here. Conversely, McDonald's was already confirmed to be a sponsor for the game in Japan even before it came out.
It would also be beneficial for both companies. As mentioned before, Pokémon GO has yet to have a large business in the U.S. establish their stores as locations where people can know they can easily play the game, and Target, as the second-largest retailer in the U.S., would be a good fit. Meanwhile, Target, after a strong first quarter, was anticipating a difficult second quarter, so the boosted foot traffic that would come with a sponsorship would likely help cure its troubled forecast.
On the other hand, this could have nothing to do with Pokémon GO and just be a normal promotion for normal Pokémon merchandise. As you know, Pokemon Sun and Moon are coming out in November, so this could have been a clever way to market that in advance. Target also happens to be a major retailer of Pokémon trading cards, so the Pokémon Company and Target could have been teaming up for a special giveaway or an exclusive promotion.
Unfortunately for fans of Pokémon GO, it turns out that Target has plans of the regular Pokémon variety, as a Target representative later confirmed that all of this is just a simple promotion. Apparently, the specially selected Target stores will have a display of Pokémon merchandise set up at the front of the store.
The representative didn't say which Target stores will be participating, though that list will likely be revealed once preparations for the promotion are complete.