Zappar is the world’s leading augmented reality platform and creative studio for mobile and web apps. Since 2011, Zappar’s mission has been to democratise AR and get it into the hands and lives of as many people as possible.
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How businesses are reigniting the value of brand character with AR
October 26, 2021
Caspar Thykier, CEO at Zappar, explains how brands are using augmented reality (AR) to connect with audiences in exciting new ways using their existing well loved, brand characters.
One of the fundamental aspects of AR, which is so compelling and makes it unique is the ability to deliver spatial storytelling. This opens up interesting new ways for brands and license holders to connect with audiences especially when it comes to the use of brand characters.
Creating AR episodes
‘AR episodes’ - are effectively 3D animated shorts that are tracked to the world around you and can be placed in your environment (on a tabletop or floor). This is something Rovio have executed with Angry Birds for example. What makes this experience unique is that as an end user you control the camera. So you can view the episode from different angles and focus on different elements as the story unfolds. This perspective shift and sense of presence, seeing it play out in your environment, drives a different level of engagement and interaction. That’s not to say it’s a replacement for film, TV or online but it does give a fresh and new dimension to the idea of episodic content.
AR episodes can be released episodically over time and linked to brand partnerships with a call to action and activation code placed on product packaging and point of sale. That sense of collectability and delayed gratification helps drive further brand consideration and repeat purchase.
The other problem this approach solves is creating content that can play well globally across territories without the requirement of much localization. These episodes don’t require dialogue and play on universal themes so can work across markets with only light adaptation.
Breathing life into brand characters
AR brings a new depth and lease of life to brand mascots and characters in general. The use of a character to embody a brand’s values and bring a product or service proposition to life is not new by any stretch and has been used from the advent of marketing across sectors from food and beverages to stationary and utilities.
Characters become a short-hand and creative device to drive brand salience whether that’s a tiger, octopus, meerkat, zebra, or even inanimate objects (red phones, talking vegetables and Weetabix spring to mind!). But as the heyday of TV spots has waned and with the move to digital many of these mascots have ended up as 2D representations of themselves and have been rather under-utilised in recent times. Their role has also changed as brands have become more purposeful and less direct sales vehicles. Increasingly ambassadors are also used as spokespeople in an age of more conscious consumerism.
Leveraging the power of connected packaging
AR fills another powerful role when it comes to connected packaging - where passive packaging is transformed into a multimedia portal that can deliver value to both the consumer and the brand through a QR code. Especially when it comes to connected products and packaging that features these characters. We can turn passive media space and 2D characters into 3D representations of themselves that can walk on your countertop and talk directly to your audience, involving them in a conversation or activity. And it works a treat. Working alongside our good partners at Experience Is Everything and System1, our recent research shows that this use of brand character in AR for a cereal activation outperformed the ad norm for the category by 55% when it came to eliciting feelings of happiness and surprise. As Orlando Wood, chief innovation officer at System1 explained:
"The AR experience comfortably surpassed category norms for advertising, achieving an emotional response that was amongst the very highest on record."
We know from our neuroscience research that the AR experience doubles the level of a person's attention and drives a 75% uplift in memory recall. And we know from our collection of data from working on scores of connected packaging campaigns around the world that on average these AR activations deliver 90 seconds of active dwell time, and click-through rates that are inordinately greater than other channels, as well as lower bounce rates. But it’s the emotional response as well that should not be ignored, and links back to the purpose of using brand characters when it comes to AR.
With a camera capability for your business and connected packaging strategy, there’s never been a better time to breathe new life into your existing assets.