Perhaps the most exciting trend in digital marketing right now (in my opinion at least) is the convergence of digital content into real world experiences. For a long time, Augmented Reality and QR Codes have promised so much, yet delivered very little from a practical perspective. But it seems times are changing, because a bunch of ingenious campaigns have emerged this Christmas that utilise the technology in a brilliant manner. Whether it's the Christmas spirit or not, it seems marketers are now beginning to grasp how to use digital content to supplement real world experiences. Let's take a look at a couple of the best campaigns over the last month or so…
Ebay Give-A-Toy Campaign
This campaign really struck a chord with me because of its charitable nature. Donating gifts to underprivileged kids at Christmas isn't exactly a new concept. But using QR Codes to facilitate it certainly is, which is what Ebay did with their Give-A-Toy campaign. Two virtual shopfront were created with an array of gifts for people to view and buy. Each toy came with an associated QR Code, rather than a price tag. Users then scanned the QR Code to buy the gift for a child. Technology and philanthropy working hand-in-hand = awesome.
JC Penney Santa Tags
This campaign from JC Penney is simple, yet incredibly practical for people wanting to add a personal touch to their gifts this Christmas. When shopping at JC Penney, customers can pick up Santa Tags for their gifts. Each Santa Tag contains an individual QR Code. Once scanned, it allows the buyer to record a voice message for the recipient. The tag can then be stuck to the gift to replace or supplement the traditional card. The recipient then scans the QR Code to listen to the voice message. Superb!
Macy's Believe-O-Magic Campaign
Macy's Believe campaign is already a beautifully crafted digital execution, without considering the Augmented Reality application. The backbone of the campaign is the true story of an 8 year old girl who wrote to a New York newspaper to ask if Santa existed. The story became famous when the editor published a response that confirmed Santa existed to all those that truly believed. It was later translated into an animated Christmas special, called Yes Virginia. Macy's now use Virginia as the face of their Christmas campaign.
To supplement the campaign, Macy's created an iPhone app that uses Augmented Reality to bring the character of Virginia to life. Parents use the app at Believe Stations located within Macy's stores. When a photo is taken at a Believe Station with the app, a character from the show is integrated into the shot via Augmented Reality. Thus, kids can have photos with their favourite characters from the show. The photos can then be converted into a Christmas card to send to friends and family.
Waitrose Christmas Recipe Campaign
The publication of Christmas recipes is a pretty natural activity for a grocery chain to be doing at this time of year. But while those recipes are typically only available in-store, Waitrose have extended their reach via Augmented Reality app Blippar. The app works with both Waitrose's TV ads and print ads. Users simply need to point their phone in the direction of the ad to access recipes from chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and watch cooking classes on how to make them.
Parrot Carrot Children's Book
This one isn't quite a Christmas campaign, but makes an excellent Christmas present nonetheless. Kids love books. And there's no question they get attached to the characters in their favourite books. Which is why they ask us to read them the same story over and over and over… Parrot Carrot is a children's book with a difference. The book is complimented by an Augmented Reality app for iPhone and iPad. Kids use the app to find and catch the characters from the book around their home in a game of virtual hide and seek. In essence, the app helps bring the characters from the book to life. I'm certain the kids will love it, and I've already bought a copy for my nephew for Christmas. Winning!