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Best Western repeats Disney-themed augmented reality strategy to reach teens

For Best Western?s second augmented reality campaign, the chain is partnering with Disney Channel to enable guests to interact with a life-sized cutout of Zendaya, the star of a new Disney Channel original movie.

Travelers who stay at any Best Western location across the U.S. will be greeted in lobby entrances by the cutout of Zendaya, who stars in the film ?Zapped.?

The Zapped augmented reality experience builds on the success of the hotelier?s first foray into augmented reality last summer, which was themed around Disney?s hit ?Teen Beach Movie,? with the app tapped more than 48,000 times and having reached more than 1.9 million Facebook users in just a few months.

"There's not much that's more magic than seeing something that's not really there, from the perspective of a kid," said Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst at Needham & Company, New York.

?All of a sudden, you're playing in that magical world, and you're seeing yourself the whole time.?

Sean McGowan is not associated with Best Western and commented based on his expertise.

Best Western did not meet press deadline.

Star power
Through the Zapped free application, guests will be able to ?awaken? the cut out display and snap a photo with the actress that can be shared on social media networks.
The Best Western ALIVE! app, developed by Aurasma, allows users to see graphics from every perspective and adjust to user?s movements. 


In addition to letting guests meet and greet with a digital Zendaya, one fan will win a grand prize trip for four to Los Angeles to film a dance video with the star through the ?Get Zapped with Zendaya Zweepstakes.?

The exclusive experience includes dance studio time with Zendaya which will be incorporated into a music video that will air on Disney Channel.

Adolescent influences
According to a 2008 report by YTV on kids and tweens influencing power, kids impact family entertainment choices 98 percent of the time, and trips and excursions 94 percent of the time, results which have more than doubled industry spending on advertising over the past two decades.

Modern parent?s willingness to splurge more on their children has been accounted for by recent trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing pregnancy until later in life. With more disposable income, and time-starved parents more susceptible to spending decisions based on guilt, marketers are increasingly targeting children, knowing parents are likely to substitute material items for time spent with their kids.

Using research to analyze the behavior and fantasy lives of children, firms such as Saatchi and Saatchi are able to create sophisticated marketing strategies to engage young people.

In 1990, Saatchi and Saatchi hired cultural anthropologists to study children interacting with digital tech in their homes to conceptualize how to best target the demographic with certain brands and products.

"Kids are moving very quickly past physical toys and into the tech realm," said Jason Moser, an analyst at Motley Fool, Alexandria, VA. ?Children as young as five are outgrowing physical toys.?

The Internet has integrated itself into youth culture, and is now a staple in the daily routine of young people?s lives.

Engaging and interactive environments based upon product and names can help foster company brand loyalty from a young age.

By leveraging augmented reality technology through the ?Chuck E.?s Say Cheese! App,? The Richards Group and Chuck E. Cheese allowed users to snap a picture with a digitally animated version of the famed mouse inside his restaurant, easily shared via social media. To date, the app has over 400,000 downloads and over 120,000 photos have been shared.

In a promotion for the 2013 released game, Forza Motorsport 5, Pizza Hut UK teamed up with Xbox One and augmented reality app developer, Blippar, to provide customers with exclusive game content directly on their smartphones. The company produced 500,000 limited edition pizza boxes wrapped in the games cover image.

Customers could use the Blippar app to ?blipp? the box and animate the image. Users were then able to interact with the image though their phone and gain access to game trailers and sweepstakes entries.

Relationship building through viral advertisement like the Zweepstakes campaign attempts to connect to consumers by building a personal relationship with them which can also be passed along to friends through social sharing.

"You need to convince people that something really extraordinary is going on to get people to part with their money," Mr. McGowan said.

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York