Munch: A Retrospective Campaign

Near the end of 2018, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno, Tokyo held an exhibition of Edvard Munch’s most famous paintings, the most well-known of which was The Scream, an iconic oil painting from 1893. This was the first time that Munch’s work would ever be shown in Japan.

Multiple Japanese brands collaborated with the museum to drive interest to the exhibit, most notably Pokemon. Various merchandise was created, and 5 unique, full art promo cards were distributed through various channeled. These cards have gone on to be iconic promos of this era due to their homage to Munch’s famous oil painting.

The Scream, Edvard Munch (1893)

Background

Edvard Munch, undated photo

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter who was active in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. He painted 4 versions of The Scream: two pastels (1893 and 1895), and two paintings (1893 and 1910). In 2012, one of these pieces sold for $119.9 million USD at open auction, and at the time was the most expensive artwork ever sold.

In the late 20th century, The Scream was was imitated and parodied many times in pop culture, leading it to acquire an iconic status.

Munch: A Retrospective Exhibit

The exhibit was open from October 27, 2018 until January 20, 2019. It featured around 60 of Munch’s oil paintings, and was co-sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo.

Exhibit advertising key art
The Scream on display
Exterior of the museum while the exhibit was active

Tickets ranged from 800 yen for high school students to 1600 yen for general admission.

Pikachu promo distribution

During the week of December 10-16, 2019, a special Pikachu promo card was distributed to all visitors of the exhibition. Ticket purchasers were given a voucher that they could turn in at the museum for the Pikachu promo.

These vouchers were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so not all attendees during this time frame were able to obtain one.

It is reported that on the first day of the Pikachu card distribution, there were no vouchers and visitors to the exhibit were handed this Pikachu promo at the exit to the lobby by an employee at the counter. It is likely that the voucher system was implemented afterwards as a form of crowd control.

The Pikachu cards were given to the museum in sealed packs of 50 cards each, and employees would open these packs to distribute them. Therefore there are no individually-wrapped versions of these cards.

Mimikyu promo distribution

The Mimikyu promo was distributed in a mini card file that was sold in the museum’s gift shop on the second floor of the exhibit. They were also sold in limited quantities on the Pokemon Center’s online store. The mini card file was available from October 27, 2018 until they were sold out.

Sealed card file with promo card
Front and back of the card file

Psyduck, Eevee, and Rowlet distribution

The last 3 promo cards of this campaign were distributed by Pokemon Center retail shops. Starting from November 2, 1998, every time a customer purchased 2 booster packs at a participating shop, they would received 1 card of their choice from the 3 promos. Only 1 copy was available per person, and the purchase bonus was not available for Pokemon Center Online customers.

Other Pokemon merchandise

There were several other Pokemon-themed merchandise available to purchase both online and at the exhibit’s gift shop.

Photo from the exhibit gift shop showing multiple Eevee merchandise pieces

Phone cases

iPhone 6/6s/7/8 cases with designs of all 5 Pokemon were offered for sale at the exhibit. They were also available at Pokemon Centers around Japan.

Courtesy of PokeVault
Courtesy of PokeVault
Courtesy of PokeVault
Courtesy of PokeVault
Courtesy of PokeVault

Pikachu Plush

A special Pikachu plush featuring the Pokemon in the iconic “scream” position was sold exclusively at the exhibit gift shops. After these were sold out, there were no further plans to restock them. The plush’s tag was printed to look like the Pikachu promo card on the front, with regular product information on the back.

Plush product image
Front of plush
Back of plush
Tag front, featuring the promo card
Tag’s reverse

Acrylic Charms

Vending machines at the museum would sell randomized acrylic charms with each of the 5 Pokemon promo card designs on them in a framed graphic. The machines would distribute these in blind capsules to attendees who purchased them.

Paper included with the capsules showing all 5 designs

Hankerchiefs

Hankerchiefs with each of the 5 designers were also sold at the exhibit’s gift shop. These were not sold at the Pokemon Center stores.

A4 Clear Folders

A series of A4-sized clear plastic folders were also sold at the exhibit’s gift shop. These featured the 5 artworks from the promo cards on the front, and the back had the key art from The Scream exhibit.

Back side of the clear folders

Postcards

The final piece of Pokemon-related merchandise sold at this exhibit was a series of 5 postcards that featured the artwork from the 5 promo cards. The reverse side of these postcards featured a small grayscale “stamp” square of the artwork.

Backside of postcards

Sources