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Amazing augmented reality campaigns

Recent efforts show that marketing success with this new tech is well within reach

The challenge of using new technology in marketing is numbing yourself to the novelty of it and finding a genuinely good idea. And though most fail, a few succeed brilliantly. We’ve been looking to use augmented reality in an upcoming project and did some research to see what has already been done. What we found were some amazing applications that solve the target’s needs, while wowing them with shiny things at the same time.

Here are the best campaigns we’ve come across and why they were a success. Maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with some brilliant applications of your own that you didn’t even realize were possible. 

Slap a virtual watch on your wrist
So you’re thinking of dropping a chunk of change on a new watch, but not quite convinced it will look as dashing on your wrist as you imagine. Why not try on a digital model first? Tissot is betting you’ll want to take their new range for a test drive. It starts with a paper watch you cut out from their magazine ads (you can also download it from the site). You put the paper watch around your wrist, go to the Tissot site to download the software and hold it up to your webcam. You then see a 3D model wrapped around your wrist. You can cycle through the new range and even test out some the watches’ features. It’s extremely cool, has drawn loads of media attention and fills the need of potential buyers to try out a watch before buying beautifully.

The dude is unsettlingly devoid of emotion, but the watch is nifty

Take a BMW for a spin on your desktop (the wooden one)
They could have just gone with creating a nifty 3D pop-up model (like Mini did), but for the Z4, BMW kicked it up a notch and created art. Or rather, they let you create art. Using a simple printout, a Z4 pops onto your desk and you can drive it around, leaving colorful tire tracks in your wake. When your street art is complete, you can save and share it via YouTube or Facebook with one click, thus expanding the campaign's footprint and making it spread organically simply by virtue of being fun and drawing fans more intimately into the BMW experience. 

Such pretty donuts. Mmmmm....donuts.

Explore the 3D world on your tongue
Since augmented reality springs to life just by using a simple pattern, you can slip it into almost anything. Even the tongue of your shoe. Adidas has created a 3D city (complete with the Death Star) that springs to life when you go to their website and hold the shoe up to your webcam. You can then navigate the city and play games using the shoe as a controller. It’s pretty dang cool and adds a unique selling point for their sneakers in an overcrowded market. The brilliance of the idea is that it adds a whole new digital dimension into the product itself, instead of creating a one-off gimmick that’s glanced at and forgotten. This way, the 3D world is always on the tip of your tongue. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 

3D city! Storm troopers! Lasers! Overstimulation!

Enroll in alien police academy  
The film District 9 used a highly interactive augmented reality app to spread awareness and deepen fans’ experience of the sci-fi world. By visiting the website for Multi National United, the fictional government organization in charge of policing Earth’s alien inhabitants, you can go through an augmented reality training simulation on how to deal with day-to-day tasks, like non-human arrest and shooting at monsters. The campaign is a clever take on the film world and adds depth to the story, increasing viewers immersion and extending engagement beyond the cinema. 

Working for the man is fun when they give you a machine gun.

Get your own mud soccer cheerleader 
In the most ambitious campaign I came across, UK brand Dairy Crest have set up an elaborate mud soccer contest. In order to win a slot for you and 5 friends in the Frijj Swamp Soccer World Cup 2010, complete with your own Swamp Soccerettes cheering your team on, users hold up a Frijj bottle in front of their webcam to enter a real-time environment. Oh, and a swamp soccerette crawls out of the bottle and does a cheer for you. The campaign cleverly capitalizes on the World Cup fever among its target and encourages them to get involved in a footie tournament of their own while their blood is boiling for some action. Plus, it’s so quirky you can’t resist seeking out more info to see if it’s real. 


The connection between mud and milk is left mysteriously unsaid

Inspired yet? If so, check out this article for some great practical tips on creating an augmented reality campaign before you get started. And if you’ve seen any other great augmented reality campaigns, share them in the comments section below.

Jason Ross is a copywriter for The Duffy Agency. He loves working on both traditional and social media projects and speculating on the future of the ad industry.

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