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How AR has transformed the style guide

Zappar’s partnerships and marketing director Max Dawes on the impact of augmented reality.

The style guide has been a cornerstone of the licensing industry since before time began and, while still an essential part of the process, its foundation is essentially binary – either physical (assets for products, POS, packaging) or digital (microsites, etc.).

As this article is soon to come on to augmented reality (AR) it is obligatory to reference Pokémon Go in the preamble.

So here goes… what Pokémon Go has proven is that the modern consumer actively engages with digital experiences overlaid on the physical world. Forward thinking licensors had caught onto this long before Pikachu hunting was even a thing and have spearheaded the birth of the ‘augmented reality style guide’ – opening up their properties for the creation of AR content experiences.

Augmented reality is the connection of digital content with something physical (e.g. scanning a product with an app, the app recognising the product and ‘sticking’ digital content on top of it).

At Zappar, we’ve been lucky enough to work with the biggest and best licences around the world to build AR style guides for them for a number of years now that can then be utilised by their licensees and brand partners to add an interactive layer to their products, promotions and marketing.

Rovio: introducing BirdCodes

During 2016 the charmingly mischievous birds evolved in a number of ways… they grew arms and legs, they started talking and they were stars in the box-office smash hit that was The Angry Birds Movie. They also got augmented reality-ified.

Working closely with the team at Rovio, we built a toolkit of different AR experiences that were utilised by global brand partners including McDonald’s and Walmart. These interactive experiences were launched by consumers scanning ‘BirdCodes’ via the Angry Birds Action! app and included mini-games, selfies and Power-Ups within the Angry Birds app.

A total of over one billion (yes, billion) BirdCodes were unleashed on the world with AR activations appearing in over 150 countries.

Following the success of this partnership and the fantastic reaction from consumers and licensees alike, there will be plenty more innovation of this nature coming from Rovio, a company with digital and mobile in its DNA.

The Three Cs for Success

At Zappar, we’ve been working in augmented reality for over six years now and during that time we’ve distilled our learnings into the secret sauce for success.

Context – it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer, think about the occasion and whether this is a time/place that it’s likely you’d actually get your phone out and scan something.

Call to action – being very clear what it is people need to do and what it is they’re going to get. For example:


Content – the consumer needs to be rewarded for the effort they have gone to in downloading an app and scanning. Just showing a video isn’t really enough. It’s much better to include interactivity.

We’ve found that when you get these three Cs correct, it leads to high levels of dwell time, repeat interactions and most importantly, increased sales.

The AR style guide is here, and here to stay.

Max Dawes is partnerships and marketing director at Zappar. He can be contacted on max@zappar.com

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