Next Media Stars: Steven Kim

The Starcom digital strategist talks reaching youth, Pokemon and Nintendo.

Every year, strategy magazine reaches out to the media community to round up the best and brightest young media minds for its Next Media Stars feature. This week, Steven Kim talks about his work with Nintendo DS.

Claim to fame
Reaching youth is always a challenge, but throw in several vastly different demos and you’re playing at a whole new level of difficulty. This was the mission facing Steven Kim, digital strategist, Starcom, at the launch of two new Pokémon games for Nintendo DS.

Kim was tasked with introducing a whole new set of Pokémon characters presented in the games, Pokémon Black Version and White Version, to not only existing fans of the series, but also a new generation of Pokémon gamers. To do so, he and his team sent them on an online Easter egg hunt, a digital search for hidden codes that would allow Pokémon enthusiasts to unlock new content, leveraging three franchise themes: discovering, collecting and sharing.

“[The program] leveraged the insight that audiences love finding Easter eggs. It sparks additional interest and excitement,” says Kim.

The hidden codes were promoted through a “Discovery Experience” created through a partnership with YTV. Featuring words related to the game versions like “Victini” (a new character) and “150+ Pokémon,” the codes were seeded out to players via standalone vignettes on YTV, wallpapers and banners on popular kid-oriented sites including,, and Kidzworld, and at game sampling events in Toronto and Vancouver. The mystery content could be unlocked by entering the codes on YTV’s website.

Over 50,000 users entered codes, of which 64% opted to visit the official Pokémon page for more info. To top it off, Kim says his team discovered that the secret codes were being traded by users in online forums. Even after the completion of the campaign the Pokémon site continued to receive impressions and code entries through word of mouth, reinforcing that the discovering, collecting and sharing goals were fully realized by the campaign.

Kim was also tasked with taking the Nintendo DS to the third dimension by promoting the recently released 3DS to entertainment and gadget lovers. To achieve traction for the next-gen device, he and his team worked closely with creative agency We The Collective in Vancouver and online publisher Gawker Media to develop online communications also optimized for new mobile and tablet platforms. They created high-impact units, like marquees/mastheads, that were placed on YouTube and tech site Gizmodo to demonstrate the gameplay experience.

The goal was to break through clutter, building awareness around the device while showcasing its capabilities right where the user was, without sending them to a different destination.

An account on Kim
Kim, 29, hails from Nova Scotia and moved to Toronto when he was seven. He graduated with a bachelor of commerce from Ryerson’s IT Management program in 2004 and started work in Mississauga, ON., as a web programmer and graphic designer for Studica, a North American online retailer of educational software. He left to take a position with the Toronto District School Board, working on government-funded programs for Service Ontario.

Next he landed a position at Cossette Media, where he stayed for three years, gaining experience on clients such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Samsung, Playstation and Cadbury. After a brief stint at Gorilla Nation, he arrived at Starcom last November.

What’s the most exciting thing about working in digital?
“All the technology that we’ve seen around for years, we’re now able to integrate into campaigns. Augmented reality, 3D projection mapping, being able to incorporate larger compelling ad formats with smarter ad serving technology – just the way that consumers are consuming digital at this moment, it makes it an exciting place to be.”