Put Augmented Reality On Your Radar

Put Augmented Reality On Your Radar

Marketing | Judette Coward-Puglisi

October 26, 2010

I borrowed the September issue of my favourite magazine, Elle, from a friend over the weekend and there on the left hand side of the Colours of Benetton ad, was a tiny block of information instructing me to hold up the page to my webcam to enjoy the video. I did and (after some fiddling) was transported into the world of Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality is the latest buzz in customer engagement. A shopper or reader is encouraged to hold up a printed image up to a webcam, and the camera automatically reads the code within the imagery to display 3D animation or some kind of video. On the Colours of Benetton ad for instance I was able to see behind the scenes video of ordinary folks from all over the world trying out for the fashion label’s “It’s My Time” ad campaign. With that interaction, my engagement with the magazine ad became more enriched. I not only immediately joined Benetton’s facebook page, I also made a mental note to check out its Long Circular Mall store for their product selection for an upcoming Christmas vacation.

Augmented reality is still in its forming stages at least in the US, (in Japan they have already debuted Augmented Reality glasses) however the fact that it has the potential to trigger an emotional and memorable response means that this kind of emerging media is set to grow and be utilised globally in a big way. So far the most popular use of Augmented Reality has been by McDonalds. When Avatar was released in theaters in the US last year, Big Mac’s packaging featured special cards that patrons could hold up to a webcam at home and experience an up-close exploration of Pandora, including insights into the characters and environment. The massive McDonald’s audience created buzz and helped people begin to understand how to use it. I confess though that when I first held up the Benetton ad to my web cam I didn’t know if I had to hold up the entire ad, the block of instructions, or just half of the images on the page. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out what to do but the cool video was well worth the wait.

Popular block builder,Lego, has also been experimenting with Augmented Reality. In some of its stores shoppers are invited to take a specially-marked package and hold it up to a kiosk-based video camera to reveal the box’s contents fully assembled within live, 3D animated scenes. The cool, creative wow factor works here in making the sale. Which hobbyist do you know will refuse to purchase a box of Lego blocks when exposed to possibilities of what can be created using his/her imagination.

The point is that customer engagement is getting more clever as businesses seek to use the emerging technology to communicate the meaning behind the brand. In a world where information overload is at an all time high, we still seem to be craving new, unique ways to receive information about our favourite brands.

Augmented reality uses the technology to do just that.