The Underblog

AR Nurtures Emotional Engagement for Brands and Consumers


Our 21st century technology has gradually produced numerous channels for digital escapism, but none have pushed the boundaries more than recent advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Since its release in summer 2016, Pokémon GO made a splash in the arena of smartphone AR. As an entertainment brand born in the formative years of the millennial generation, Pokémon stretched across video games, playing cards and other merchandise. The AR iteration, however, where players individually or in teams visit real-world locations to “capture” monsters, became the most downloaded mobile game app in 2016 with mass appeal for social connectedness through a nostalgic experience.
Many brands are already developing ways to integrate digital- and real-world engagement to shorten the journey between browser and buyer. Here are a few examples of brands that have already undertaken experiments in AR:
Moxie, an Atlanta-based marketing company, decided in 2017 to forego sending out the traditional holiday cards and candy to clients and vendors. Instead, it decided to experiment with the interactivity of augmented reality with “rapping” giftwrapping paper. With the help of a local muralist and recording artist T-Pain, Moxie sent AR wrapping that, when using the company’s Gift Rap app, featured a singing animation all over the pattern. Such a feature might have made it more difficult to rip up the paper for any gift found inside.
Ikea is pushing the limits of AR by bringing the retail browsing experience directly to your smartphone. Want to see how a coffee table might fit in your living room, or how a futon will look in a guest bedroom? The furniture maker has created a free app that allows users to use their cameras and view any of more than 2,000 products as though it were appearing in a room. The app, called Ikea Place, uses data picked up by your camera to map objects in a room to render a 3-D image of a product at scale with 98 percent accuracy. An AR application like Ikea Place has the potential to streamline the furniture shopping experience – removing the longtime woes of measuring spaces, comparing fabrics and colors, and seeing how the products look in the home only after buying them.
Porsche is aiming to improve its technician services with a set of AR smart glasses used in a process called Tech Live Look. In the event that a technician at any Porsche dealership can’t immediately determine a car’s problem or find the solution, they can use the smart glasses to link with the support team at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta. The smart glasses include a high-resolution camera that can examine very small objects among the vehicle’s parts as well as LEDs provide illumination in dark crevices. The support team in Atlanta can send instructions and other assessments directly to the glasses, thus preventing a technician from wasting time with opening an email on a remote computer. With this system, customers can expect to get their cars back faster as the eight dealerships that have implemented this technology have decreased resolution time by 40 percent.
As VR’s focus is largely shifting toward the future of gaming, AR is headed toward disrupting the norms of daily life. Advances in technology and their applications in retail shopping and the producer-consumer relationship will dramatically improve the overall customer experience for a growing number of industries in the near future. Agencies today need to bring clients ideas and examples of how the brand experience can be richer and more personal via AR and VR applications.

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Go North Young Man

Silver, Andy and Melanie judging the Mid-Michigan Addy Awards.


Heeding the call to judge the Addys of the great wild north.

Every creative loves awards, and you should gird your loins around those who say they don’t. They’re a fantastic measuring stick for the high standard of quality we toil over day to day. Its icing on the cake that when they’re recognized by peers in the industry. But, far less creatives, love judging award shows. This is where I’m cut from a different cloth.

Award shows, especially hyper local ones, have a reputation for fewer entries we’d call killer by standards set by The One Show, CA and the like. Its hard to argue that stuff coming out of Little Rock or Cheboygan could ever compete with work produced in larger markets by larger agencies. This is where I want to prove that notion utterly wrong.  I have been trying to do so for the last 10 years or so making my way around the local Addy judging circuit.
Often, I leave a judging weekend super impressed with creative efforts emerging from markets you wouldn’t consider perennial advertising powerhouses or even sesquicentennial powerhouses. That’s the beauty of what we do, no matter where you are, or what agency you call home, the originality of an idea transcends regionality and agency size.
Over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining Andy Azula, Executive Creative Director of The Martin Agency, and Melanie Weisenthal, Principal at Deerfield Design NYC, to judge the Addy awards for the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance in Lansing, Michigan. We met the entrants in a casual Q&A session at a local brewery the night before judging. One of the big themes addressed regionality as a measurement for creative worth.
My argument reinforced that great thinking can exist anywhere. It doesn’t matter that agencies in smaller markets don’t have armies of retouchers, or the deep pockets of a global holding company. In fact,  creativity often flourishes when given a small sandbox to play in. Limits force you to be more creative and arrive at solutions with less tools available. In Michigan, we judged some of the best design work I’ve seen in any advertising annual or show.
Its markets like this that force every creative to adopt a pioneer  attitude to work. They make the work  and they demand nothing but the best because they are the ones on the frontier. The next time you find yourself in Duluth or Sioux Falls, search for the local shops carving out their own paths in the advertising landscape. The work is wild.

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