How to Create Meaningful Customer Relationships with Holograms

Every year consumers are becoming less responsive to the ever growing number of ads. As a result, brands have been looking for new and improved ways to create meaningful relationships between them and their consumers. Holograms can be a solution to this problem; but only if done right.

Personal holograms create one-of-a-kind experiences for consumers

Holograms have been used for decades to entrance and entertain their audiences. Just think of R2D2’s projection of Princess Leia from the original Star Wars movies, or more recently, Tupac rising from the dead at Coachella in 2012. Today, marketers can use these same enchanting images to help deliver unique, personalized experiences to consumers.

While augmenting consumer experiences with holographic images has yet to become mainstream, a few companies such as Kit Kat and Porsche have already found innovative ways to incorporate holograms into their communication mix to great success.

Porsche proves that awards don’t mean everything

Although holograms are both novel and eye catching, the initial allure that comes with a holographic promotion can just as easily become an eyesore.

In March 2016, Porsche ran a hologram as part of a print campaign, allowing Fast Company readers to bring to life a 3D image of the new model Porsche 911. Check out the video below to see the campaign in action.

This campaign from Porsche and Cramer-Krasselt recently won a Project Issac Award — yet still fell short of its full potential.

So what went wrong? Simply put: Porsche relied too much on the novelty and awe factor of holograms, and failed to create a meaningful connection.

The problem with using holograms as a novelty factor is that “novelty” is always short lived. While watching a product as 3D projection might get some initial attention, will it be successful in creating relationships in the long run? Aside from the most enthusiastic consumers: how many will actually set up the prism? How many will do it more than once?

As with any novel advertising tool that requires consumers’ cooperation, marketers must come up with a compelling reason for consumers to participate. This is true for many augmented reality campaigns, as a described in a recent research article by Jo Scholz and Andrew Smith, and equally as true when it comes to the hologram.

Brands cannot rely on the novelty factor alone. However, they can (and should) use holograms to create meaningful customer relations. Holograms can be really good at this, as seen in the next example.

“Kitto Katsu” becomes a cultural icon

Kit Kat Japan had been struggling to retain shelf Holograms are a good way to create meaningful customer relationshipsspace due to the highly competitive and aggressive retail market. To
combat this, Kit Kat Japan and global agency J. Walter Thompson used the local phrase, Kitto Katsu – “to surely win”, to develop a campaign that encouraged students studying for entrance exams nationwide.

Kit Kat Japan developed “Kit Kat Mail” so that loved ones could send uplifting messages to loved ones by writing on the packaging. Initially, Kit Kat Mail intended as a limited feature to send prayers of good luck to students during exam season. Yet, Kit Kat seemed to have struck a chord. Kit Kat Mail quickly became a mainstay in Japanese post offices nationwide, effectively creating a new type of good luck charm in Japan.

Holograms help take Kit Kat Mail one step further

In order to further develop this meaningful relationship between the brand and its consumers, in January 2016, JWT Japan partnered Japanese pop group DISH// to produce Kit Mail Hologram, a one-of-a-kind, holographic music video to help cheer on the studying students.


Why is this a better use of holograms than the Porsche example? Because the hologram is more than just a novelty. It is a novel way to express existing sentiments and cultural rituals.

The addition of the hologram was an extension of existing brand interactions that have been part of Japanese culture for years. The result was an extremely meaningful relationship, truly connecting the consumer with the experience, deepening existing brand relationships.

Kit Kat knocked their campaign of the proverbial ballpark, whilst Porsche’s campaign never managed to leave the lot. However, what actually makes the difference between an average campaign, and a great one?

Holograms and content go hand in hand

Holograms augment marketers abilities to tell stories, allowing them to create more meaningful relationships with their consumers. Great stories make for great campaigns, and great campaigns have great content.

In order to create better content, you can follow Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s “SUCCESs” model. The Kit Kat campaign was so successful because it excelled in at least four factors of the SUCCESs model: simple, unexpected, emotional, and stories. Porsche, on the other hand, optimized its content on less dimensions.

Holograms are a good way to create meaningful customer relationships

First, your content should be simple. While this doesn’t mean that your content should be oversimplified, it means that it should be easily understood. While it fails in other places, the Porsche campaign actually addresses this one very well, as the actual content conveys a very simple, core idea that can be seen from the campaign placement as well as the overall messaging – luxury.

Unexpected is simply how to gain attention from your desired audience. Unexpectedness is almost inherent when we talk about holograms. This is simply due to the fact that holograms are not mainstream, and are thus a novel occurrence. In creating a hologram campaign, this trait is, for the most part, already fulfilled.

These two aspects are undoubtedly very important. However, if you want to go beyond the novelty factor, you can’t only be simple and unexpected.

Content beyond the novelty effect

Moving on, your content should appeal to human emotion. JWT and Kit Kat did a good job in terms of appealing to emotion. They understood that many of their customers were experiencing feelings of extreme stress while studying for exams. The campaign aimed to relieve them from their anxieties, even if only for a short time, and reconnect with their loved ones.

The experience of creating a true human connection is what made this campaign so successful. The hologram only brought it out better than most other media before.

While Kit Kat did a great job appealing to emotion, it’s here where the Porsche campaign truly missed out. As we mentioned earlier, while the Porsche campaign is indeed very interesting, the advertisement only highlighted Porsche’s brand properties and their product. It failed to establish a true emotional base, and thus was unable to reach greatness.

Finally, let’s talk about stories. Stories are at the heart of any good campaign, but are especially vital to hologram campaigns. This is because, without a compelling story, holograms are simply another visual medium, albeit a flashy one.

Stories should be able to be told again and again. According to the NYTimes Consumer Insight Group, people are likely to share content when it’s valuable and entertaining, it defines their personal brand, or spreads the word about things we care about. Kit Kat’s story of taking a break and sending a good luck charm spread all across Japan because it resonated with customers: They were studying for the exam themselves, or they knew someone who was

Great holographic experiences lead to meaningful relationships

To sum it up: Holograms are a cool, eye-catching way for brands to engage their customer.

However, without any real substance, holograms end up being a gimmick, phantasmal at best. The real power of holograms, is its ability to give your consumers a truly unique and engaging experience, creating a real relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Holograms are a good way to create meaningful customer relationships

What did you think about this article? Have you seen great examples of holograms in marketing? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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The author thanks Ann Ma for her contribution to an earlier version of this post, and Dr. Joachim Scholz for his guidance in finalizing this article.
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