14 examples of augmented reality brand experiences

Augmented reality has surged in the headlines of late with the release of Apple’s Vision Pro headset and Meta teasing a potential rollout of AR glasses as it marks the 10-year anniversary of its VR/AR outfit, Meta Reality Labs.

If augmented reality headsets and eyewear become more commonplace, brands and entertainment companies may take the opportunity to become more ambitious with AR, leaning into the potential of experiences that can overlay interactive elements onto reality.

Even without specialised eyewear, however, the everyday consumer has ready access to AR experiences thanks to their smartphone – and brands are already doing a lot to bring their marketing to life with AR activations.

Here’s 14 recent examples that show how companies across sectors are using AR to draw consumers into their marketing.

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In autumn 2023, Coca-Cola launched #TakeATasteNow, a large-scale digital out-of-home (DOOH) and AR experience in partnership with Tesco Group.

The campaign was rolled out across 13 major locations in the UK, including London, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, and Lakeside and Bluewater Shopping Centres, and ran from 25th September to 15th October.

In a first for a DOOH campaign, smartphone users could interact with and change the screens’ AR visuals in real-time, and could scan a QR code that awarded them with both a digital bottle of Coke Zero on their phones and a voucher to claim the real thing in a nearby Tesco. The free bottles drove product discovery and uptake, while the AR campaign made for a more memorable experience than say, simply being handed a product sample on the street.

Smartphone users could interact with the screens’ content in real time, in a first for a DOOH campaign. (Image: Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola also supported the campaign with influencer partnerships on Instagram, in which six prominent creators created short videos featuring a Coke Zero ‘security can’ designed to catch would-be Coke thieves in the act.

As AR technology advanced, it developed into a very effective tool for virtual ‘try-ons’, particularly for makeup and accessories such as eyewear. Eyewear company Marcolin played into this with an AR campaign for its Guess brand, created in partnership with Teads and AR display ad platform Aryel.

The campaign targeted the 18-34 age range with two ad formats: one that displayed a pair of Guess sunglasses in 3D and allowed people to try them on in augmented reality; the other, featuring a promotional video followed by the 3D product and AR try-on. It ran across five countries: the US, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany between May and June 2023 (prime sunglasses-purchasing months).

The campaign saw an average dwell time of 19 seconds, and its average virtual try-on (VTO) engagement was on average 44% higher than Teads’ benchmark – with Italy seeing particularly strong engagement at 60% above the VTO benchmark.

The augmented reality game Pokémon Go brought AR fully into the limelight with its release in 2016 – and even though its popularity has died down from those heights, Pokémon Go is still go-ing (sorry) strong with an estimated monthly active player count of more than 85 million according to Active Player.

Parent company Niantic is also making the most of the advertising possibilities within the game world. At Cannes Lions International Festival in June 2023, the company launched a new Rewarded AR ads format in which smartphone users can interact with branded content overlaid on the world around them.

Niantic partnered with US convenience store chain Circle K to promote its coffee to players of Pokémon Go: players were presented with a floating balloon on the game map that invited them to open a sponsored AR experience and earn in-game items. By opening AR mode, they could interact with a 3D Circle K coffee cup to earn the items, which was followed by a call-to-action inviting them to try Circle K coffee at a nearby store.

According to Niantic, the ad campaign netted an average engagement rate of 76%, with a 95% completion rate from players who interacted.

Niantic created an interactive augmented reality experience to invite Pokémon Go players to try out Circle K Coffee. (Image: Niantic Labs)

Also tapping into the potential of AR ‘try-ons’, Christian Dior Parfums created an interactive campaign to advertise its Dior Addict Lipstick over Eid 2023, a time during which – according to internal data by Google – searches for beauty products and inspiration increase by 35%.

In collaboration with Google and Spark Foundry, Christian Dior Parfums added AR technology to its Video Action Campaign ads on YouTube and Google’s partner sites. The ad would load a panel that displayed different lipstick shades on models of various skin tones, before inviting the user to ‘try it on’ using their smartphone camera’s selfie mode.

The video ads were also shoppable, with a ‘shop now’ call-to-action taking the viewer straight to the Dior website to buy the product.

The campaign ran in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, reaching more than 4 million people over 21 days. Forty one percent of consumers interacted with the Beauty Try-On panel, and consumers used AR to try on different lipstick shades over 400,000 times, taking more than 2,000 mobile screenshots in the process.

Christian Dior Parfums’ Felipa Monteiro wrote that the brand is “looking forward to re-activating this technology for future campaigns”, while keeping an eye out for other impactful interactive marketing solutions.

In the summer of 2023, the ‘Barbie’ film took international cinemas by storm, aided by a very strong and well-executed marketing campaign. One of the many prongs of this campaign was an augmented reality activation carried out in partnership with Snapchat.

In June, ahead of the film’s release, Warner Bros. Pictures launched a Barbie Wardrobe AR lens that allowed Snapchat users to visualise themselves in outfits inspired by the film, such as Barbie’s pink and white cowgirl outfit with a white Stetson hat.

Following the release of the film, a further promotional campaign invited Snapchat users to scan global landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, the Statue of Liberty, and London’s Tower Bridge to visualise them as bright pink and pastel-coloured versions of themselves.

On 11th October 2023, Maybelline New York activated the world’s largest AR mirror on the side of Gulliver Mall in Kyiv, Ukraine to promote its Falsies Surreal mascara.

Created in partnership with Ffface.me, the AR mirror spanned a total size of 43,000 square feet (or 4,000 m²). For one day only, visitors to the mall could interact with a kiosk below the screen to virtually try on the mascara, simultaneously appearing on the giant screen overhead.

Alina Odolska, group brand manager at Maybelline NY, told Ad Week that the campaign’s first activation results were “incredible”, with 3 million organic views and mentions, and more data still being collected.

Maybelline and Ffface.me then returned to the same spot in February 2024 with a Valentine’s Day-themed interactive experience. Visitors could pose alone or with a loved one on the giant AR mirror, and use the kiosk to send Valentine’s Day messages to their loved ones, which were displayed in real-time on the mirror.

Ffface.me COO Polina Click said of the initial campaign that, just as “banner blindness” can prompt users to ignore online advertising, it can also blind them to offline activations. “People no longer engage with traditional advertising materials, and we advocate for their rejuvenation through the infusion of interactivity.”

Financial app Revolut celebrated the June 2023 launch of its new membership plan, Ultra, with an ‘unlockable’ augmented reality experience located in several major European cities.

Revolut, in partnership with global experience agency Sense and immersive technology studio Apexl Studios, created mysterious silver ‘Platinum Portals’ that appeared in major European cities including Covent Garden, London. Passers-by could scan a QR code at the base of the sculpture to unlock an AR experience that displayed a Revolut’s metal Ultra card.

A screen capture of the metal Ultra card appearing through a Platinum Portal. Image: Apexl Studios

Visitors were encouraged to share their AR experience on Instagram using an Ultra filter and tag @revolutapp for the chance to win a complimentary year of Ultra membership.

In a case study on its website, Apexl Studios wrote, “Revolut wanted to welcome everyone into a ‘World of Exclusivity.’ Our mission was to make this launch not just another banking plan, but a moment to remember.

“We aimed to blend cutting-edge technology with social media buzz, making Revolut stand out from the traditional banking crowd.”

Augmented reality is Snapchat’s bread and butter – indeed, all the AR capabilities currently offered by other social media platforms are arguably just following in Snapchat’s footsteps. And even though AR features have become more widespread since Snapchat started to lead the way, Snapchat is still one of the foremost names in augmented reality (I had to work to make sure that it wasn’t over-represented on this list).

So, what better way to demonstrate the potential of Snapchat’s AR than with, well, AR?

In January 2023, Snap created a campaign to advertise its own augmented reality experiences: ‘Wait’ll You See This’. The technology company put together a 60-second ad spot that showed reality transforming in zany, hallucinogenic ways, with people’s heads turning into horses or dogs, and the floor of a subway carriage turning into baked beans.

More importantly, the ad spot itself served as an AR activation, with every frame scannable with Snapchat’s camera – taking users to the AR lenses featured in the ad, with some limited-edition merchandise mixed in. The spot aired during the NFL AFC championship game on 29th January, with a viewership of more than 55 million according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Snap’s creative officer Colleen DeCourcy told Fast Company that the campaign was not just a one-off, but the start of what will be an ongoing brand platform, designed to offer a glimpse into the “best known, least understood” social network.

Premium Italian gin brand Malfy used AR to demonstrate how its gin can transport drinkers to the sunny Amalfi Coast in Italy, creating a 360-degree immersive experience that combined real photography with imaginary imagery.

Consumers could activate the experience by scanning a QR code on one of 300,000 bottles, OOH and point-of-sale sites, or by following a URL or social post. The campaign was aimed at consumers aged 25-40 interested in style, travel, adventure and “the finer things in life”.

Once inside the AR experience, viewers could choose different routes to progress through a number of settings featuring different botanicals, and at the end of the experience, could take a selfie to preserve and share their personal ‘Malfy Moment’.

The campaign has been shortlisted for the 2024 Campaign Experience Awards in the Virtual Experience B2C category.

To support the launch of the 2023 Toyota Crown, Toyota collaborated with Yahoo Advertising to create an immersive AR experience.

Using augmented reality, consumers could visualise the Toyota Crown in their immediate surroundings, such as in a driveway or garage, and take a 360-degree walk around the vehicle. They could even ‘sit’ in the driver’s seat and go for a virtual test drive. The interactive experience included information on the Toyota Crown’s features and the ability to choose different colours for the car, which allowed Yahoo to collect information on top colour choices and features of interest.

Toyota’s campaign was supported with DOOH ads offering scannable QR codes, banner displays, and connected TV (CTV) advertising.

Scannable DOOH billboards formed part of the AR campaign for the Toyota Crown launch. (Image: Yahoo Advertising)

Augmented and virtual reality have found particular favour with automotive brands in recent years as a way to showcase the capabilities of a car without the buyer needing to visit a showroom. This was particularly key during Covid-19-induced showroom closures, but has continued beyond this: in March 2023, Ford launched its new All-Electric Explorer virtually, with a virtual reveal of the car on LinkedIn, photorealistic CGI influencer content, and a virtual test drive experience.

Vodafone brought back its ‘Elf and Seek’ AR game for the second year in a row at Christmas 2023. The interactive game was a treasure hunt-style experience in which players used their phones to catch digital elves and win prizes through Vodafone’s rewards program, VeryMe.

The campaign ran from the 11th to the 24th December and encouraged players to interact with outdoor sites, social media posts, and custom cinema spots at Pearl & Dean Cinemas.

Elf and Seek also appeared on DOOH screens by Ocean Outdoors at London Westfield, Media Wall in Liverpool, Printworks in Manchester, and The Screen in Nottingham, where players could scan the billboards to be in with a chance of capturing more elves and winning prizes.

In 2022, the first iteration of Elf and Seek was played by more than 245,000 people, who captured a total of 270,000 elves and claimed up to 20,000 prizes.

L’Oréal Garnier launched its first Instagram AR filter in May 2023 to promote its new Vitamin C Glow Boost Night Serum across the Nordics.

The campaign targeted Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway through the @garniernordics Instagram account. On activating the Instagram filter, users could interact with a silhouette of the serum and open a portal to the ‘Vitaverse’, a futuristic spa filled with floating orbs and soothing music, with a bottle of serum placed at the centre.

Walking forwards would take the user into the space, where they could switch the atmosphere in the spa from day to night, representing the two different available versions of the serum. Local influencers supported the campaign by highlighting the benefits of the serum and encouraging users to try the AR filter.

Linda Ghabain, Nordic social brand manager at Garnier Nordics, called the campaign “a real departure for us in our creator marketing efforts”, adding that, “With our new serums, we really wanted to drill down into the experience and enable consumers to see the benefits, even virtually.”

Ahead of the release of Dune: Part Two in cinemas, Warner Bros. teamed up with Snap again to release a Snapchat Lens themed around the film. Snapchat users could use the lens to turn themselves into Fremen (fictional habitants of the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune) and ride on top of a giant sandworm.

Warner Bros. and Snap also created a set of Dune-themed Cameos Stickers (a type of animated sticker that Snapchatters can create featuring themselves) for users to decorate their Snapchat posts.

These were supported by video advertisements for the film, which users could tap to be taken to a microsite to purchase tickets for Dune Part Two.

The campaign initially rolled out to the US and Canada before being released in global markets at the end of February 2024.

Gambling brand William Hill Vegas collaborated with agency Wavemaker UK to create an interactive out of home campaign that let users play an AR slot machine on their mobile phones.

By scanning a QR code on one of 23 OOH screens across 12 UK cities, players could gain a digital token that they used to spin an augmented reality slot machine on their phone, with no download necessary. At the same time, the digital screen would animate to show that the user had interacted and been entered into a prize draw with a top prize of a £15,000 trip to Las Vegas.

Players were also invited to download the William Hill app to gain another entry into the prize draw.

Melanie Blood, Head of Project Management at Ocean Labs (the creative arm of Ocean Outdoor, which provided the OOH screens) said that, “The combination of large format out of home, augmented reality and a giant virtual slot machine introduces a real life dimension to this campaign on a scale not seen before.

“The interactive element between audiences and Ocean screens is fun, entertaining and suitably presented to reach the target audience.”

(Note: This article was updated from a previous 2021 version to include more recent campaign examples.)

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There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

This is great however seems to be very consumer led, would love to see how this plays out in the B2B space.

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