Augmented Reality can create brand experiences that consumers will want to share

Are Your Brand Experiences Exciting Enough To Get Shared?

Consumers naturally share what is exciting to them. Marketers know this, and are constantly searching for new ways to create gripping brand experiences. With more and more brands entering this race, it becomes increasingly difficult to “wow” consumers. What has been true for advertisements for a while now begins to plague experiential marketing: It’s tough to break through the clutter.

Brands need something different, something that stands out to consumers.

Just put yourself into your customers’ shoes for a moment: You are going along with your daily life and encounter an experiential marketing campaign. Do you choose to take part? Will you engage with the brand experience? And most importantly: Are you going to share the experience on social media?

If your brand experience does not achieve all of this, you are missing out on maximizing your reach. In other words: You need to create brand experiences that are worth sharing.

Pepsi turned visiting the bathroom at a movie theater into a stand-out brand experience

Pepsi has done exactly that with its Monster Mirror campaign, which uses augmented reality (AR) to create something truly unique.

Create brand experiences customers will want to share

Augmented reality (AR) is a digital technology that overlays text, images or video over physical objects, merging the physical and digital experience. Pepsi’s campaign uses the magic mirror AR paradigm and face tracking technology to turn a simple task — visiting the bathroom at a movie theater — into a stand-out brand experience.

Here’s how its Halloween Monster Mirror campaign worked.

Moviegoers looked into a bathroom mirror to trigger the AR experience. But instead of seeing their own face, they saw the faces of clowns and flesh­-eating zombies overlayed onto theirs.

Naturally, the experience is thrilling and unlike something consumers had seen before. This unexpected encounter creates something more valuable than garnering a simple “like” on social media, or view on an advertisement:

It creates a story that users can retell to friends.

Augmented reality changes the way marketers connect with consumers in an exciting and immersive way. The technology creates an immersive experience for consumers, so rather than simply watching something happen before them, this something is happening to them.

This is worth repeating: The experience is happening to them. They are at the center of the story.

Make it easy for customers to share your brand experiences

Even the most exciting brand experiences are confined to one space. The challenge for marketers is how to reach a larger audience outside of that confined experience.

Putting the consumer at the center of the brand experience and allowing them to interact with the content makes it more likely that they will produce videos and images that can be shared on social media. We call these “artifacts” in our recent journal article on augmented reality marketing.

Augmented reality creates brand experiences worth sharing.

Pepsi is doing a lot of things right in this campaign. However, the campaign relies a bit too much on consumers’ organic word-of-mouth. As you develop your own AR campaign, it is good practice to build in certain mechanisms to nudge consumers to share videos and images of their augmented brand experiences.

In the Monster Mirror case, Pepsi could have provided consumers with downloadable videos of their first reactions to their transformations in the AR mirror. These first few seconds of shock and surprise cannot be staged, yet they are the most exciting artifact that could be shared.

Sharing these artifacts would lead to what we call user-bystander engagement, thus spreading the reach of the brand experience into the general population.

Provide multiple avenues to share experiences

Pepsi could also expand its Magic Mirror experience beyond bathrooms to create more sharing opportunities.

Around Halloween time, Pepsi Max could sponsor a Snapchat filter using the same face-tracking technology. Users in the Halloween spirit would want to send a scary Snap to their friends, who would then learn about Pepsi’s campaign.

Brand experiences can also be provided via handheld devices

These are both relatively easy way for Pepsi to create artifacts that facilitate word-of-mouth.

Augmented reality is the key to unique brand experiences

Augmented reality is a key technology to create memorable and share-worthy brand experiences. Brands can now merge the physical and digital worlds to build marketing campaigns unlike anything most consumers have seen.

Marketers can learn a lot from Pepsi’s Monster Mirror campaign when developing their own AR experiences. It’s use of shock appeal nicely aligns with the timing of the campaign (Halloween), location (movie theater playing horror movies), and Pepsi Max’s overall goal to inject excitement into everyday life. The sudden transformation of a mundane task into a novel experience – powered by augmented reality – provided consumers with a valuable opportunity for play, and it supplied a story to tell in person and on social media. Thus, it expanded its reach far beyond the closed doors of the movie theater’s bathroom.

AR’s ability to create extraordinary and thus share-able experiences offers great potential for marketers. AR is a great way to connect with your consumers because it brings awareness to your brand and message in a unique and engaging way. This experience is something different than consumers are used to, and guarantees a lasting impression.

To become part of this exciting movement, share this post with other marketing professionals. To learn more about the exciting opportunities and trends in augmented reality, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

The author thanks Jackie Steele and Rachel Furtado for their contributions to an earlier version of this article.
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