Huge Cafe Helps Pokémon Go Players Catch 'Em All and Get Caffeine Fix

Agency Draws Virtual Creatures and Customers to Atlanta Coffee Shop

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Squirtle Pokemon at Huge Café in Atlanta
Squirtle Pokemon at Huge Café in Atlanta Credit: Huge

Listen up, Pokémon Go fans (which pretty much means all of you.) Are you exhausted from physically searching for 151 virtual creatures for hours on end, but you won't stop until you catch them all? Huge has a solution at its café in Atlanta.

Huge Café is located between two Pokéstops – areas where players can retrieve new items – so the agency has been placing "Lures" on them all day, which helps increase the number and quality of Pokémon to catch in front of the shop, said Derek Fridman, group creative director at Huge in Atlanta.

The Lure Module can be used every 30 minutes, and the Lures can be purchased or earned in the game. Mr. Fridman said Huge bought $49 worth of Lure credits so far, and the shop plans on re-upping throughout the week to ensure no shortage of Pokémon.

While the experiment has only been running since Monday morning, Mr. Fridman said in the first few hours the agency has seen people playing on the corner coming into the coffee shop and interacting with one another. He said he also spoke to someone who works a block away who said the entire 13th floor staff will be coming down to play later.

Huge will track sales, traffic and customer conversations during the week to see the effectiveness of "applying gaming mechanics" to attract people to a business, said Mr. Fridman. On Tuesday, the cafe will offer phone-charging stations and a card (while supplies last) that will allow customers to get a free steamed bun if they show their captured Pokémon.

Over the weekend, Mr. Fridman saw a business put up a sign that said "Restrooms and Pokémon are for paying customers only," which he said is not the way the owner should have approached the gaming frenzy. He said the business should have embraced it and had fun with it to try to bring in unexpected customers.

According to web analytics firm SimilarWeb, Pokémon Go was downloaded on more than 5% of all Android devices in the U.S. two days after it was released, and the game is now almost on par with Twitter's daily active users.

Despite several unsettling reports associated with the location-based game, such as robberies and the discovery of dead bodies, Mr. Fridman said he's not concerned about any sinister behavior taking place outside of the café, which is open Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said Huge Café is situated in a "high-profile" area among a bunch of businesses, and the section of town does not have a lot of foot traffic after hours or on the weekends. Mr. Fridman said players should use more caution when searching for Pokémon in public spaces or parks at night and should go in groups.

Huge Café, which operates under its own P&L, opened in October 2015 as a way for the shop to test retail ideas and concepts. The agency could have created a lab in the office, but Mr. Fridman said having a "real operating business and real customers come in" seemed like the best way to validate ideas. Three full-time staffers currently work at the coffee shop – a manager, barista/daytime manager and a food service specialist. The cafe is located on the ground floor of Huge's Atlanta office.

One concept Huge is testing at the café has to do with wearable technology in business. The agency created an application that allows staffers to place and pay for orders on their phone, which is then sent to the barista's Apple Watch, along with a photo of the person coming to get the order.

When it comes to wearables, most people think of how consumers can use them, but "we're more interested in the watch in relation to empowering workers and making them better at their job," said Mr. Fridman.

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