AR: access, empathy, escapism

Having once been seen as gimmickry or tech for tech’s sake, Augmented Reality (AR), when executed thoughtfully, has matured as a bona fide way to enhance experiences. It can grant access, escapism and empathy – and can even link through to point-of-purchase. Here are six pieces of work showing AR at its best.

Address the Future, Carlings, Virtue Copenhagen, 2019


The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, and sales and production have increased by 60% since the birth of social media. A Grand Prix-winning piece of work from Carlings made meaningful strides toward remedying the environmental impact of the fashion industry and #OutfitOfTheDay culture.

To raise awareness while livening up people’s social media posts, Carlings gave consumers access to a virtual tailor, which adjusts clothes The idea, enabled by AR, captivated a new generation of consumers who want to enjoy fashion but not at the expense of the planet.

The world’s first 0% negative environmental impact collection travelled across the globe and drew headlines from international and leading media such as Hypebeast, i-D, PaperMag, Vogue and Wired. Website traffic increased by more than 56%, and the collection was sold to people from more than 30 countries within the test period.

Penguin Navi, Sunshine Aquarium, Hakuhodo Tokyo, 2014


A one-kilometre walk was transformed into an experience to whet the appetite of visitors to Tokyo’s Sunshine Aquarium. As we know, humans are naturally inclined to follow cute animals and an augmented reality GPS system (accessible via app) featured penguins that led the way. The GPS penguins walk and move exactly like their real-life counterparts.

People who downloaded the App spent on average more than 9 minutes at a time playing with it. More than 32% of users opened the app more than seven times and 93% of users planned to recommend it to friends/families. This was a fun, early example of how AR can be used to add a layer of entertainment and build excitement into an otherwise unremarkable experience.

The Never-Ending Forest App, Faber Castell, DAVID The Agency São Paulo, 2017


Stationery brand Faber Castell captured kids’ imaginations with an AR app that transformed each coloured pencil into a Brazilian animal. The app works like a game and allows kids to take pictures with the animals they unlock, to collect them, to get information about animals and also to colour and customize their own version, seeing them coming to life using Augmented Reality too. The merging of the analogue and digital worlds livened up the launch of the new pencil range, showing an understanding of the brand’s target audience.

The Never-Ending Forest app had 600.000 downloads in 90 days, which represents 150% over the initial business target. It was the most downloaded educational app at AppStore Brazil and a Top 5 entertainment app at Google Play Brazil. In total, it had 76 million impressions, 12 million impacts, 18 million views and 4.5 million engagements on Facebook and Instagram.

Excedrin - The Migraine Experience, Glaxo Smith-Kline, DDB London, 2016


An AR experience enabled loved ones of sufferers to see what it was like to endure a migraine. The execution was meticulous, with migraine sufferers partnered with VR specialists to recreate the exact visual effects that would convey all of the symptoms. A film was created showing friends, family and coworkers experiencing the Migraine simulator in different environments; their reactions relayed the significance of the AR film’s ability to convey the impact of Migraine.

When launched on TV and online the video exceeded 3.9m views on YouTube, producing 18.4k of brand interaction time. And there was a direct impact on brand interest - it improved Excedrin’s brand love on social media, whilst online search surged by 53%. Overall this work showed the power of AR to help people empathise with each other, positioning GSK both as a provider of a cure and as an organisation that supports and encourages a greater understanding of health conditions.

The Super Bowl Dunk, Gatorade, VML Kansas City, 2016


AR can grant access to events and experiences that were previously out of bounds - and in the case of the SuperBowl allow brands an ulterior medium than an expensive TV spot. In this case, the Gatorade recreated the infamous dunk for brands on Snapchat using facial recognition technology and the native “lens” functionality. Now the dunk could be enjoyed by millions of fans, not just a select few.

The creation of individual user-generated videos (8,231,033 in total) helped increase brand favorability and recall. Snapchatters who saw the lens were 21% more likely to call Gatorade their go-to drink when exercising. This was an early and successful example of an interactive AR experience on Snapchat that showed how the platform deployed AR so that brands could enhance their presence at events like the Super Bowl.

A/R Jordan, Jordan Brand, R/GA USA, 2018


Also using a Snapchat filter was this launch of a new Air Jordan shoe; a feat that for the first time, combined ecommerce capability with AR to allow fans to purchase a pair of sneakers on the platform. 3D artists developed a replica of Michael Jordan’s NBA 2k slam dunk as an AR lens. Fans clicking on the recreation of Michael Jordan’s could then purchase the shoe directly from Snapchat, with fulfilment in just two hours.

The lens went live at the NBA All-Star weekend, and spread around the world. SnapChat registered 4x the normal user engagement on their platform. The sneakers sold out in just 23 minutes. It showed how AR could help prompt impulse purchases and generated PR as a trail-blazing example of social commerce.