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Red Bull boosts brand favorability with augmented reality

Energy drink brand Red Bull is running an on-package call-to-action to drive adoption of a branded mobile game designed to increase consumer engagement and influence purchase intent through augmented reality.

Red Bull Augmented Racing is a mobile gaming application for Apple?s iPhone and Wi-Fi-enabled iPod touch that lets players create their own custom-built digital racetrack using Red Bull cans. The game was developed in conjunction with Circ.us, which specializes in developing marketing uses for gameplay, animation, 3D and cross-platform creative execution.

?The call-to-action for the game is printed on Red Bull 12-packs?beyond that, we wanted to find a way to create an amazing experience that was innovative, but not overwhelmingly branded or difficult,? said Adam Broitman, partner and ringleader of Circ.us, New York. ?One thing I have always admired about the Red Bull brand is their ability to elegantly be a part of, and add value to, consumer experiences?without dominating the experience.

?These days, it seems like every advertiser knows to ?join the conversation? and create value through branded experiences and entertainment,? he said. ?Some advertisers are having success with these ventures, but for Red Bull, it seems to be part of its DNA.

?Red Bull has been doing social media and branded entertainment before people were  talking about them as such and certainly before they were marketing trends.?

Red Bull claims to be the best-selling energy drink in the world.

Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Racing Team Toyota car, is a brand spokesman who is helping to get the word out about the augmented reality mobile game.

Augmented reality influences purchase intent
The Red Bull Augmented Racing game is meant to bring racing to life by letting consumers trace the energy drink cans with their handset camera.

The mobile game is featured on all Red Bull Augmented Racing 8.4 oz 12-Packs, available in both regular and sugar-free varieties through summer 2011.

Fans can race on their custom track, share it with friends and family and upload it for users everywhere to race on. 

?The target demographic is gamers, technologists, doers and anyone who gets stoked by the cutting edge,? Mr. Broitman said.

Using Advanced Sensor Fusion, motion data is collected from an iPhone or iPod touch camera, which identifies visual points of interest and then tracks the movements of those points between each frame of video.

Visual recognition of the Red Bull cans is done with the camera using natural feature identification powered by Metaio.

To build and race on a track, consumers can download the Red Bull augmented racing game application to an iPhone or iPod touch by going to http://www.redbullusa.com/game.

Application users can then build a track with Red Bull cans by capturing images as they move from can to can, returning to the first can they captured.

Consumers can set the cans up on stairs, table tops, long hallways, etcetera?the track design is up to the user.

A thumbnail image will be automatically generated of the track on the handset. Users can save it, race it and share it.

Consumers can challenge friends to attempt to beat their time. They can browse and race thousands of other tracked created by fellow race fans and see real-time leader boards.

?Our goal was to obscure the technological backbone as much as possible,? Mr. Broitman said. ?Sure, we were attempting something that was difficult to accomplish due to the fact it had no precedent, but Red Bull is very demanding when it comes to user experience, so we had to make next-level technology seem like kid?s play.

?When we approached Red Bull with the concept, we knew it could be done, but we did not know how,? he said. ?Always innovating, Red Bull committed to figuring this out with us.?

Circ.us had a consultant from Nasa, Metaio?s computer vision team in Germany, and various other consultants helping it figure out how to fuse the various sensors on the iPhone to capture both computer vision and accelerometer data simultaneously.

?It was not easy and there were a lot of sleepless nights for all parties?would we do it again? 100 percent,? Mr. Broitman said. ?Red Bull challenged us to bring them something truly innovative?I think we did that.?

The community of gamers that have downloaded the application is already growing very rapidly, per Circ.us.

Many users build anywhere from five to 10 tracks each and challenge their friends to race.

Because Red Bull and Circ.us are leveraging both Apple's Game Center and Facebook Connect, they can let users opt-in to get push notifications every time someone has beat their best time on their own track?or any other track.

?You will notice that, within the game you are actually racing ghost cars?those ghost cars are actual recording of past races,? Mr. Broitman said. ?You can be racing a ghost of your friend who raced three days ago.

?If I were to get a notification that a friend beat me on my track, you can bet I will jump back in the game and retake my leadership position,? he said. ?This type of friendly competition keeps people coming back and also, inviting everyone they know.

?This was by all means meant to be a community for race and gaming enthusiasts?that is already proving to be the case.?

Final Take