How to Leverage AR to Market Your Brand

“I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you . . . it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.

So many of us are feeling it: This palpable sense that virtual and augmented realties are going to revolutionize the world in incomprehensible ways.

Gaming, medicine, graphic design, construction, and of course, advertising (among almost every other industry) will all undergo a major transformation to integrate these technologies.

While that time has yet to arrive in the fullest sense, the march has already begun.

Augmented reality has slowly but surely been seeping its way into various marketing campaigns over the past several years. Brands have been undergoing an intensive learning process of how to incorporate the interactive tech-overlays into advertising experiences, and some have produced out-of-this-world AR ad adventures.

We are going to look at some of these innovative marketing ploys to help you understand how to integrate AR technology into your next big marketing push.

Memory Mirrors

The world of fashion and retail clothing is an especially apt use case for augmented reality implementation.

One of the oldest attempts at a tech-centered changing room comes from TopShop. The company built kiosks that overlaid select dresses over the body of the customer in the mirror. Users could change outfits with the wave of a hand.

Unfortunately, since this was way back in 2011 and AR technology was less refined, the dresses would often fall out of alignment with the wearer.

In more recent developments, Neiman Marcus applied this same concept to several of its store locations. With the more powerful and polished technology, users can seamlessly try on digital clothing, change the color of the garment, take seven second videos to see the outfit from every angle, share images via text or social media, and even compare dresses side-by-side.

The company has also adopted the same technology-clad mirrors at many of its cosmetics counters.

We’ll explore some of the key takeaways from this brand’s clever AR implementation a little later.

Technology that Colors the World

Today’s children are no strangers to technology. Growing up in a hyper-connected society, youngsters are the new masters of digital integration.

Combining children’s technological acuity with the pastime of coloring, BiC Kids devised the ultimate coloring book experience.

The BiC Kids Drawybook , aimed at children 5-10 years old, is a coloring book that has been paired with a free application.

Understanding that the product was developed for today’s whipper snappers, the application featured an extremely intuitive menu, colorful graphics, and a level of simplicity suited for, well, a child.

This mobile feature paired with a coloring book by requiring children to color images as required. The images would then come to life when a mobile device scanned the picture, becoming part of a customized and interactive AR-driven story, complete with audio narration and various mini-games.

The campaign was a smashing success, generating more than 21,000 downloads and more than 65,000 recorded game sessions. The app also snatched two No. 1 positions in the French app store; kids 6-8 and general kids categories.

Sky Austria Brings the Dead to Life

So far, all of the corporate AR integrations have been practical products. This, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t use AR to simply launch an exciting marketing campaign. And that’s exactly what Sky Austria, a German media company, did when it came time to create hype around a new season of the hit TV show, The Walking Dead.

Partnering with the ad agency, Gewista, Sky spawned a first-of-its-kind marketing ploy that combined AR technology with a local bus stop.

The company installed a screen where a typical bus advert would be placed; the screen displayed a real-time feed of the street behind the sign as if it were a mere piece of glass. Moments later, zombies would stagger up to the sign, bang on the glass, eat fellow humans, and subject waiting patrons to other gruesome and horrifying scenes.

The augmented ad ran for two days, scaring the living bejeebus out of everyone who was (un)fortunate enough to take that particular tram. Feel free to check out this video to witness the impressive chaos and humor.

Prehistoric AR

In a similarly entertaining application of AR technology, Universal Studios recognized a grand opportunity to bring creatures to life that have not existed in more than 65 million years.

The company’s Orlando theme park, which when combined with the brand’s other parks rakes in about $ 3.3 billion per year, leveraged AR to make its park experience more thrilling while promoting the release of Jurassic World.

By standing on a Hollywood square at a certain location in the park, users would trigger an AR experience stemming from overhanging screens. Park visitors would then see certain dinosaurs begin to investigate the humans, while others threatened to destroy the entire park, effectively recreating some of the franchise’s most memorable scenes.

This AR experience is possibly one of the most grandiose and innovative of its kind.

Key Takeaways

Each one of these augmented marketing campaigns has relevant and applicable lessons that can be pulled from their creativity.

In the case of Sky Austria’s The Walking Dead advert, the company really shines in creating a fun and memorable experience for those who interacted with the campaign. Anyone who saw this is not likely to forget it.

Universal Studios also created an exhilarating experience, but also used AR technology in a way that was congruent with the brand’s image and properties.

Neiman Marcus and TopShelf also have two lessons to be told from their AR mirrors; create a straightforward experience that is useful for customers while solving real problems; these are the tickets to success.

BiC’s Drawybook, despite being geared toward children, created clear instructions and CTAs with its application; a necessity for emerging technologies and consumer experiences.

Each of these brands is on the forefront of the AR revolution. Should your brand wish to take up residence alongside these pioneers, apply the lessons derived from their campaigns to your own unique and creative experience. Doing so will help you woo audiences and likely garner lots of attention in the media.

Has your brand dabbled in AR? Do you think that augmented reality will one day be more useful than virtual reality?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

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