How Abell Pest Control used Pokémon Go for recruitment

The company set off 100 'lures' in an effort to catch the attention of potential employees

When the release of Pokémon Go turned into a full-blown phenomenon, marketers of all stripes scrambled to come up with ways to take advantage of the game’s raging popularity. (If you’re still on the hunt for a “Pokémon Go strategy,” Marketing‘s editor-in-chief has offered his advice on the topic.)

One of the most surprising and novel Pokémon-related initiatives to date has come via the Canadian brand Abell Pest Control. Rather than trying to tie the game to one of its marketing objectives, the company noticed how similar the app’s gameplay is to the life of a pest control technician and decided to use the app as a recruitment tool.

Last last month, Abell’s human resource manager, Sara Cromwell, and two of the company’s recruiters set out on a day-long journey across Toronto in search of Pokémon players who may be interested in a career in pest control.

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Cromwell said she’s a fan of the game and instantly noticed similarities between it and pest control. In the game, players catch as many different virtual Pokémon as possible by traveling from location to location in the real world – not unlike how a pest control technician travels from customer to customer catching bugs.

In the game, players can also use “lures,” a tool that makes a real-world location attract more Pokémon. The Abell team purchased 100 lures and used them throughout the day at various locations in hopes they would attract players looking to take advantage of them.

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The company currently has 18 open positions and, Cromwell said, summer is typically a slow period for applicants, so she pitched the idea as a creative way to stir up interest. In the roughly 10 hours the team was out on July 27, they met with dozens of people and handed out a large stack of Pokémon-themed business cards. The ploy appears to have worked. According to Abell, the company has received double the number of applications over the past two weeks compared to the same period last year.

The company also got a PR boost by working with O’Brien Communications and received coverage about the initiative on CityNews. Beyond traditional PR, Abell seeded information about the recruitment effort on Pokémon Go message boards, Reddit and other social media sites to let fans – and potential job seekers – know about the initiative ahead of time. The team also gave out four gift cards for iTunes and the Google Play store to players it met along the way.

While being a pest control technician is a lucrative career, Cromwell admitted it’s not often top-of-mind for job seekers, which means she and her team have to get imaginative in order to attract talent. She added that she hoped her team’s day of Pokémon hunting positively reflected on the Abell brand and showed potential employees it’s a fun company to work for.

Her only regret? She let out all those lures and didn’t catch herself any Pokémon. “It was a lot of fun, but we unfortunately didn’t get to play because we were talking with people. We missed out on catching them for ourselves,” she laughed.

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