Top 10 Augmented Reality Campaigns of 2017 (Video)

Top 10 Best AR Campaigns 2017 GenWowAwards_2017Augmented reality-based marketing initiatives seem to have lost some altitude in 2017 compared to recent years—and that's probably a good thing.

Once a "me-too" phenomenon, a growing number of brands' AR initiatives have a solid reason for being or are exceptionally well-suited to the target audience.

Indeed, though it's often mistakenly called "virtual reality" (sorry folks, AR and VR are still two different things), the former is expected to eventually eclipse the latter because of an endless number of possible applications.

With AR viewers now available in the checkout line at even the smallest gas-'n-sip, perhaps they'll hit the 3.7 million units projected to be shipped in the next year.

Whatever the case, when brands do AR right, it can be a blast. Here's a look at some of our picks for the year's best (at least so far):

#10: 'Let's Be Evil'

Okay, we're cheating here—there's nothing AR about the experience. Instead, it's a movie featuring a dystopian vision for our AR-infused future. Here, it's all from the POV of "Glassholes." We have not yet seen the movie, but the trailer was too fun to leave off our list.

#9: John Lewis 2017 '#MozTheMonster' Holiday Filter

Longtime readers know John Lewis often makes our annual "Best of Lists." And they almost always involve the British retailer's integrated holiday campaigns, which are always crowd pleasers. This time out,  spots featuring Moz the Monster (#MozTheMonster") and are amplified by a soft Moz took, branded mugs, PJs, storybook downloads and a Facebook AR selfie filter (alas, described by at least one pub as a VR filter, which it is not).

#8: 'Ghostbusters: Dimensions' AR Game

It's hard to tell how much of this is just video or actual gameplay, but this promo from THE VOID and Sony Pictures looks like a lot of fun. A couple of key points: THE VOID develops experiences for certain venues. This was not a game you could download and play on your own. It also underscores the difference between AR and VR. Both WIRED and The New York Times referred to this game as being VR. From the promotional video at least, it appears to be AR-based, which helps explain how people move through it without the disorientation that often comes with VR-based experiences. For those new to this, AR layers digital elements on top of the real world, while VR immerses the user in a 100% digital world or experience.

#7: M&M's AR Billboards

To help promote the launch of M&M's new caramel flavor, the ever-popular Mars candy transformed a dozen billboards into an AR arcade that people could access via mobile phone. According to ADWEEK, it resulted in more than 466 million consumer impressions. 

#6: The Forestry Commission: 'Grufallo Spotter' AR App

Pokémon Go's got nothing on England's Forestry Commission. Its "Grufallo Spotter" AR app got kids to get excited about the great outdoors by getting them engaged with fun characters and activities based on the best-selling picture book. Check out a behind-the-scenes look, here and read more, here.

#5: Netflix Season Two 'Stranger Things' AR Experience and Filter

Readers may know that we're big fans of "Stranger Things" (Be sure to check out the latest "Rick & Rick" Podcast's season two recaps here). We're also fans of Snapchat (and more recently, Facebook) AR filters as promotional devices. So we were doubly pleased with Netflix's AR and VR-based filters for Snapchat. On the AR side, the filter applies Eleven's signature nosebleed to your face. Just don't raise your eyebrows—or you're thrown into the Upside Down. In the VR side, you're planted in Joyce Byer's season one living room, complete with creepy message lights.  

#4 Snatch: Life's for the Taking AR Treasure Hunt

It's like Pokémon GO—with beer. Earlier this year, Dutch beer brand Amstel teamed up with the mobile AR treasure hunt app known as Snatch to give away 10,000 free pints to people who "snatch" and hold onto their prizes for up to six hours. In addition to the free bear, there were also 20 bikes at stake, as well as three free trips to Amsterdam. But honestly, they had us at "AR" and "beer." But those other prizes work, too. 

#3: Beatie Wolfe—World's First AR-Based Live Streaming Music Event

First there were the NFC-enabled album covers you could tap with your mobile phone to bring up a website featuring one of her singles. This year, Beatie Wolfe launched an augmented reality-based live streaming experience to promote her latest album, Raw Space.

#2: Gorillaz Augmented Reality App

You gotta love this campaign, which was awarded the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. As you enter the app, it superimposes elements from the make-believe band's albums onto your real-world surroundings, acting as gateways to an immersive Gorillaz House in celebration of the group's return after a seven-year hiatus. The festivities included more than 500 geo-located "House Parties" that saw 125,000 fans in 146 countries search for AR Gorillaz houses in their markets to stream Gorillaz' new album, Humanz. Let's just say it was a bit of a success. Kudos to all involved.

#1: Honda: 'The Ultimate Get Well Card'

Hats off to Honda and agency RPA for this personalized AR experience for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation at the Children's Hospital of Orange County. The idea: bring an augmented reality surprise to sick kids in hospitals over the holidays. Be proud, people—a touching and truly meaningful application of this technology.

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'Star Trek: Discovery'—Where No Streaming App Has Gone Before? (Podcast)

Why create a blockbuster new show and then hide it away where nobody will ever watch it?

Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten assess the first episode of "Star Trek: Discovery," the first new show developed for CBS All Access, a kind of Netflix dedicated exclusively to CBS properties.

It must have seemed like a great idea at the time—create a show with a built in, hardcore fan base to draw new viewers to this new app. But is it enough to pull in the Ricktators, both lifelong Trek fans?

The first episode is solid, the 15-episode first season surely enjoyable, and a second season has already been greenlit.

Yet the Ricks have yet to watch another episode.

See what they have to say about the show and the legacy of Trek. Then let us know your own thoughts about "Star Trek: Discovery" and CBS All access.




 (Approx. 7 min, 2 sec)

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Marketing 'It': From Viral Outdoor to Virtual Reality & Beyond (Podcast)

Marketing it the movie
"It" is a hit. 

But why? In a podcast recorded during the movie's big opening weekend, Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten talk about marketing campaign behind "It," which includes an ambitious VR experience, guerrilla marketing and more.

But was any of it even necessary? Or was this a movie that was just destined to make a killing? 



(Approx. 8 min)

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Ah, Millennials.

As Rick & Rick continue their rants, raves and ruminations on marketing, media and popular culture, they turn their attention to a recent ADWEEK article citing research that finds 44% of Millennials think of their pets as 'starter children.'

Anyone who's ever had a child knows just how naive that is, of course. But you can't fault younger Millennials for being clueless about something they haven't yet experienced. 

You can, however, fault self-styled marketing gurus who claim there's somehow some secret to marketing to this demographic that only they can reveal.

By now, most marketers understand that demographics are growing increasingly irrelevant. Technology now allows us to target the consumers most likely to purchase our products, regardless of superficial categorizations based on age.

As Fiona O'Donnell, Senior Lifestyle & Leisure for research firm Mintel once put it so well:

Companies or brands that successfully market to Millennials are ones that recognize that there is no such thing as a 'Millennial'—just individuals or groups of individuals who are at a similar life stage and have lived similar experiences. They want to be treated for who they are, rather than lumped together and labeled.

That's not to say those shared life experiences aren't important or leverageable. But ultimately, like all individuals, they want what they want, no matter their ages.

Of course, that doesn't mean Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten aren't going to have a little fun at their (and the so-called gurus') expense.

The Ricktators sound off here:



(Approx. 5 min)

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Video Game Movies & Robot Buddhist Priests (Rick & Rick Podcast Ep 1/Pt 1)




Welcome to 'Rick & Rick Rule the World!'

In this all-new Gen Wow iTunes podcast series, everybody's favorite Rickheads rant, rave and otherwise ruminate on whatever's hitting their Geeks-&-Mad Men radars these days.

Our Ricks include Rick Mathieson—writer, author and executive creative director at iMathieson, and Rick Wootten—vice president of marketing and sales operations at 24/7.

Their mission: To share a little of their ongoing stream-of-consciousness about all things cool in movies, TV shows, comics, video games, media, marketing and advertising. You name it, they've probably got something to say about it. Either way, it's going to be fun.

All the Ricksomeness starts here:






A-ha Gets its AR Moment (Video)

You knew somebody would eventually do it—and from the looks of it, Trixi Studios did it up right.

Using Apple's ARKit, the animation studio emulated the experience of A-ha's famous '80s music video "Take on Me."

According to Vocativ, it took the videographers 16 weeks to rotoscope the frames to create the original, this proof-of-concept app puts you into the video's fantastical world instantly. Check out this info video for more. —Rick Mathieson

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McDonald's Turns Drink Trays into iPhone Boom Boxes (Video)

We're McLovin' this new promotion from Mickey D's, which turns their recyclable drink trays into boom boxes for  your iPhone.

It's not the first time this has been done, of course—Coca-Cola once famously turned a magazine print ad into a speaker system for mobile phones as well. But that doesn't make McDonald's promo any less fun (our loud).

Read more, here.

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Is 'Amazon Go' the Future of Whole Foods? (Video)

Mobile_amazon_go_rick_mathieson_genwow_generationwow As goes Whole Foods, so goes the future of grocery stores?

A lot has been made of Amazon's recent announcement that it will acquire Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion (insert your own "Whole Paycheck" joke here).

Many  have speculated the brand will continue to operate as it has, with enhanced pre-ordering and home delivery. But Amazon may have something far bigger in mind.

As Business Insider recently pointed out, Amazon released a video back in December on a concept it calls 'Amazon Go'.

Here, shoppers use an Amazon Go app to pre-order items in a virtual cart. When they get to the store, they simply walk in, scan the app at a turnstile, pick up the items they want, and walk out the door, without ever digging for cash, writing a check, swiping a card—or ever standing in line.

Using what Amazon calls "Just Walk Out" technology, Amazon Go leverages "deep learning algorithms, computer vision and sensor fusion" to keep track of what you pick up in-store. It'll even know if you put something back, or picked up additional items, and update your order. Everything's automatically charged to your account when you walk out the door.

It's a fascinating and compelling vision. It's also one shared by many others, of course.

It's been well over a decade since I started chatting with Seth Godin, Tom Nicholson and others about the concept—and how elements of it have already been applied for brands such as Prada and Tesco—as showcased in my books, The On-Demand Brand and Branding Unbound.

What I think is especially elegant about Amazon's concept is that it at least appears to remove the need for things like RFID tags to be applied at the item level, and for readers to be set up throughout the store—something that has so far proven costly and impractical. At least from this video, the technology appears to be completely invisible to the customer. The first Go location opened for Amazon employees in Seattle earlier this year.

It'll be a blast to see how the concept develops, and what role if any Whole Foods ultimately plays in its evolution.

However things play out there, it's hard to imagine some version of this concept is not just the future of Whole Foods or even just the grocery category.

It's the future of retailing itself.

Click to learn more about Amazon Go.

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KLM Audio-Enabled, Location-Aware Luggage Tags Give Travelers Tips About Town (Video)

KLM Airlines is thinking beyond the flight to help visitors to Amsterdam make their way around town.

Its new audio-enabled, location-aware "Care Tag" offers audio tips on things to see and do, based on where you are at any time. What's interesting is it consists of a speaker and an offline GPS module, so there's no telephony or Internet connection required. The voices even come from KLM crew members.

"At KLM we always go the extra mile to give you the best personal service during your flight," the airline says on a special site set up to promote the tags. "And now we are also looking after you during your stay. With the Care Tag, it feels like our crew is always with you to help you around."

Indeed, it's a perfect example of a travel brand using digital, data-based technology to extend the brand experience in a unique and compelling way.

Learn more here.


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'The Humanium Metal Initiative' Wins Innovation Grand Prix (Video)

Not exactly turning turning swords into plowshares, but perhaps it's even better.

The Humanium Initiative recycles metal from illegal weapons busts and forfeiting programs and then makes it available for commercial production by brands. As FastCompany reports, the idea is to make your products "a symbolic result of a less violent world."

Small wonder it won the Innovation Lions Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Lions Festival.

Kudos to all involved.

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