Trend Watch: Brands cut through the clutter with immersive experiences to connect

Learn how companies use AR to deepen engagement and create customer value in our new report.
Created in partnership with Unity
 "Marketers have an opportunity to weave this emerging medium into their marketing strategies to effectively capture their audience’s attention."

As technology evolves, consumer attention and engagement changes. Amid a flurry of notifications across multiple devices, vying for a consumer’s attention has never been harder.

That’s why brands, agencies, and creatives are turning to immersive technologies to reach their audiences in novel ways to tell their story. With immersive technology such as augmented reality (AR) already reaching over a billion devices, marketers have an opportunity to weave this emerging medium into their marketing strategies to effectively capture their audience’s attention.

Fresh marketing strategies develop as new communication mediums emerge. Evolving from radio to print to TV to digital represented big leaps in how marketers reach audiences. Each inflection point presented significant challenges for business adoption, but these channels are now standard and marketers can’t imagine not incorporating them. Content has moved beyond even digital and mobile platforms to interactivity and real-time 3D. This type of creative represents an opportunity to truly connect with your audience in imaginative ways.

To stand out today, you need innovation that inspires along with a platform to perform. Those who are slow to adapt to this market reality will not be able to remain competitive.

Let’s take a look at how brands are leaning into bleeding-edge technology within their marketing.


Extend Events

ABC News used AR to complement the Royal Wedding experience in viewers’ living rooms.

Trigger created a temporary, unique Royal Wedding AR module that was integrated into the existing ABC News app to celebrate the event. The module allowed ABC News to engage fans in the event by using AR to invite objects related to the Royal Family into their living rooms.

Best practice: Experiment with using AR as a feature to complement your existing app before launching a standalone AR app.


Visualize Purchases

Wayfair AR lets customers visualize living with their purchases before buying.

Wayfair uses AR to help customers see what furniture would look like in their homes before purchasing it. Users can scan their floor plan with their phone, and then select furniture designs and drag and drop them into place using their smartphone as a viewfinder. This app would not exist without AR – AR brings a level of ease and quality that was previously unattainable.

Best practice: Consider what the technology allows you to do that would otherwise not be possible, and use it to solve a customer pain point – AR can offer unique value.


Explore Spaces

Royal Caribbean Cruises gave guests an enhanced experience with a location-based, audio-guided AR tour.

The Celebrity Edge Access Tour app is an enhanced AR tour of the cruise ship to be experienced onboard. Visitors get access to restricted areas and can view the ship’s original facilities. Passengers can explore more than a dozen innovative spaces onboard the Celebrity edge.

Best practice: Meet your audience’s specific needs for information, convenience or entertainment.


Experience Art

Childish Gambino fuses storytelling, music and technology to engage fans.

Childish Gambino, known globally for being an artistic trailblazer, produced the PHAROS AR app as a way to deeply engage his fans. The app combines storytelling, music and technology and invites fans into the Pharos world, which includes exclusive songs and artwork by Childish Gambino. Check out the Cannes Lions session to discover why the artist wanted to create a cross-platform, multiplayer AR music experience and how Unity made it a reality.

Best practice: Instill intrigue in your audience and gamify the experience to give your creative vision dimensions that extend beyond other mediums.


Make Your Brand Experience Memorable

As the above examples show, there are many different ways to incorporate AR into marketing campaigns to connect with consumers in their own space. Today, marketers leverage AR mostly through app experiences or interactive ads. Apps provide a creative space in which to tell a powerful story while letting your audience navigate the experience at their own pace. That can take shape as a standalone app, similar to the PHAROS AR example, where brands invite users into a new world. Or instead of creating an independent experience, incremental functionality can be added into an existing app, as ABC News did for the Royal Wedding.

AR ads, whether in the form of a filter or lens, or as in-app, or in-game experiences, introduce users to brands in a digestible – but memorable – way. Imagine how much more power your brand wields when consumers can “try on” your product or insert it directly into their physical world.


Stoke Excitement

MiIler Lite helped consumers celebrate St. Patrick’s Day through a series of engaging AR experiences.

St. Patrick’s day is cluttered with beer and spirits all fighting to be top of mind, and Miller Lite wanted to drive relevance and reconsideration among its audience. MillerCoors distributed new, breakthrough AR experiences to support Miller Lite’s plans for a St. Patrick’s Day on premise activation. A series of engaging AR experiences allowed consumers to celebrate with Miller Lite’s iconic St. Patrick’s Day character, the bearded man.

The campaign, in partnership with Unity, included the following touch points:

  • Immersive AR Ad Portal: Where to celebrate wasn’t a question for users who stepped into a surreal 360º Miller Lite St. Pat’s bar. Once inside, users got an authentic Irish experience with the bearded man as their guide.
  • Coin-Toss AR Game: What’s a St. Paddy’s celebration without a drinking game? We gave users a chance to toss a coin at a bull’s-eye to dunk the bearded man into a pot of gold.
  • Image Recognition + WebAR: During the holiday weekend, users could scan designated image markers on cans or packaging to unlock a first-to-market WebAR experience, bringing the iconic bearded man to life to party alongside them. He played a traditional Irish tune, danced with a snake and, of course, enjoyed a Miller Lite.

Best Practice: Provide relevant and engaging experiences that can complement and generate incremental excitement surrounding a broader activation.


Discover How AR Can Boost Your Brand

How will you make your mark on the front lines of innovative marketing?

With the Cannes Lions Interactive Festival for Creativity rapidly approaching, we’re excited to see the award-winning campaigns and strategies that brands are implementing as they embrace immersive technologies.

For more insights and details, check out our upcoming webinar on June 4, “Award-winning AR and VR for branded content: Uncover new ways to reach and connect with your audience.”

Going to Cannes Lions and interested in how you can incorporate this technology into your marketing campaign? Let’s meet!