Of all of the mainstream video content innovations in recent years, few have captured imaginations like Virtual and Augmented Reality. Having been promised to be on the edge of widespread use for several years, 2018 has seen the first clear signs of a breakthrough into the mass market with PS VR headsets and AR compatible handsets becoming standard for the modern household.
For the first time, we are starting to see brands from every sector regularly experiment with the format, finding new and innovative ways to integrate the technology available into their campaigns and products. From family film promos to group messaging services, we take a look at how Augmented Reality was used this month to push the realms of what is possible with the promotional video medium.
Snapchat – Easter Egg Hunt
Last week saw AR format pioneers Snapchat release an unexpected holiday treat for its users in the form of a worldwide scavenger hunt, fittingly titled ‘The Great Snapchat Egg Hunt’. Based loosely around the Pokémon Go gameplay, users were
to travel to locations marked by cartoon eggs on the game map where on arrival they would find a capturable animated dancing bunny. The 24-hour-long feature saw upwards of 3 million global users battle it out to be the player who opened the most eggs, with different eggs offering players different bonuses and numbers of points and with players’ final scores being submitted to a global leader board.
Though The Great Snapchat Egg Hunt appears to be an independent non-sponsored venture by the messaging giant, pundits are already commenting that the popularity of the feature may be a sign to come of new revenue streams for Snapchat. The app already offers both sponsored lenses for the selfie-camera and sponsored world lenses for brands, allowing brands such as BMW to augment products into the user’s camera view. With this new application of the Snap Map as an integrated tool with Snapchat’s AR facilities, many are viewing the Egg Hunt as a showcase for potential sponsorship, showing what the platform has to offer beyond their recently outstripped (link to Instagram/Snap Article) Story sharing feature.
Hot off the back of the theatrical release of the Kristen Bell narrated IMAX documentary Pandas, developers Conversive have created an app aimed at children that creates a speech recognising and conversable animated panda to discuss environmental issues with kids. Voiced by Grace Van Dien, Genius the Panda interacts with the app user through guided conversation, teaching and testing the user on a variety of panda-based trivia such as how much they weigh or what they eat. Users are given the option to interact with Genius both through vocal interaction and through a series of on-screen questions.
This is by no means the first time AR has been used to promote a family film to younger audiences. Disney have long been proponents of the format, having released the AR utilising VR headset app ‘Holochess’ for the release of The Last Jedi allowing users to project and play the bizarre claymation hologram board game seen played in several of the franchise’s film. This release was supplemented by a number of Star Wars AR products, including the Nissan collaboration “See the Unseen” and the Virtual Porgs front facing sponsored snapchat lens.
Explore Wakanda – Walmart
Yakables hasn’t been the only example of AR promoting a major family film release this month. Following the meteoric release of Marvel’s Black Panther last month, Marvel and Walmart have joined forces through mobile app developer Current Studios to release Explore Wakanda. Available for Android and iOS, the app allows users to scan promotional displays in the Walmart toy aisle to unlock access to placeable augmented items in the app’s camera display, alongside a Black Panther mask lens available through the selfie-camera.
Though perhaps little of Black Panther’s record-breaking success can be attributed to the app release, all stickers and placeable objects featured in the app’s lenses are available for sale at Walmart at the corresponding promotional displays. AR has become a regular feature of Marvel’s far-spanning promotional campaigns, having debuted in 2012 with the hugely popular but technically problematic Marvel AR comic app, designed to allow augmentation to comic book releases. Though now this app is now recalled, Marvel frequently still release fully fleshed AR apps to support theatrical releases, most famously the Spider-Man: Homecoming app allowing users to access exclusive BTS content and ‘bring Spider-Man into your world with the AR suit’. Though ambitious projects like Marvels comic book AR app remind us that the format is not without its teething pains, the commonplace of AR in 2018 has been an encouraging sign that the medium is here to stay. As more developers use AR as a relatively low-cost supplement to wider campaigns, AR enabled promotional media is looking to be one of the most immersive and memorable tools to place the user in the world of the producer’s product.