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By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

May 15, 2017 | 4 min read

At The Drum, we’re often pitched news about ‘the next Pokemon Go’. What this usually means is that an app has adopted augmented reality (AR) in some way, however, Unilever-backed venture Snatch boasts a compelling gameplay mechanism and a wealth of brand partners, underlining that AR is not a one trick pony.

The free-to-play, real world treasure hunt app tasks players with traversing their area to hunt packages that could contain prizes and offers from more than 100 brands including NowTV, Amstel, JustEat, Topshop, Heineken, All Bar One and Prezzybox. In AR, packages can be located - or stolen from other players – creating a competitive gamified environment where brands can directly interact with gamers. The catch is that players must defend their parcels for six hours.

Phil Lloyd, chief marketing officer of Snatch, doesn’t believe the game has a close competitor, and has recently, with the help of partner Now TV, created geo-fenced safehouses in the UK’s top stadia, protecting the parcels of people enjoying entertainment and sporting events for a full 90 minutes. These areas have been strewn with Now TV passes affording access to Sky content, generating retention and long-term subscriptions for the brand in addition to a gaming ecosystem boasting like-minded audiences.

Lloyd said: “Now TV has an entrepreneurial and open mind to try new things. We’ve been increasing the number of subscriptions we drive for them with unique value offers that are not available anywhere else. We began with entertainment packages, then cinema and we now integrate their sports offering.

"We’re offering a taster but we need to extend that partnership and be more creative,” he added.

Keen historians of augmented reality and mobile gaming will remember that McDonald’s and Starbucks partnered with Pokemon Go last year to drive footfall to restaurants in return for in-game perks. This model has been emulated by Snatch, with its safehouses that protect parcels for 60 minutes. These include all Mitchells & Butlers pubs (there are many) and every Topshop in the UK. Additionally, Lloyd continued: “Once you’re in these buildings you’re pushed a great secondary offer too.”

The brand is careful to publicise firstly the compelling game model, but it also touches down upon the additional value and prizes on offer. It’s not just another voucher ecosystem that Lloyd outlines. The branding was pulled together by Lucky Generals, who Lloyd previously worked with when he headed up marketing at Paddy Power more than a year ago.

To publicise the app, digital and social advertising and editorial outreach were leveraged, however, it has also adopted the Uber ‘tell a friend’ approach that sees invitees rewarded with 500 coins, which can be used to purchase in game tools that protect parcels. Furthermore, its partners are contractually obligated to mention the game in their networks.

On the monetisation level, users can opt to make in-app purchases, but the brand also generates revenue from partners. Typically, they pay per package redemption, on top of an entry fee to access the platform.

Additionally, it is currently on the hunt for a suitable ad model, keen to emulate the self-serve networks of the biggest advertisers. The aim is to create a fun environment that creates value for both brands and consumers, online and in physical storefronts.

The UK-based start-up is eyeing up a US launch where it can introduce its proposition to a mass audience and some of the world’s leading brands.

Technology Augmented Reality Unilever

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