Disney sends 'Star Wars' fans on AR treasure hunt for new characters
- Disney and Lucasfilm are offering fans of the "Star Wars" movie franchise a chance to participate in an augmented reality (AR) treasure hunt held at some 20,000 retailers in 30 countries, according to a press release.
- The three-day event, which the marketers have dubbed "Force Friday II," begins Sept. 1 and promotes the release of a new line of products tied to the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" this holiday season.
- To participate, fans must download a special app, visit a participating store location and find a hidden "Find the Force" logo. Scanning the graphic unveils characters new and old from the movie in augmented reality. Over the course of the promotion, 15 characters will be revealed.
In this galaxy, few things are as powerful as the force of a "Star Wars" marketing campaign for new merchandise. Toys and other products tied to the film franchise are almost as iconic as the movies themselves, and Disney and Lucasfilm are deploying some bleeding-edge tools to promote Force Friday II.
Using AR to create a treasure hunt that drives foot traffic to retail locations shows how marketers can leverage the technology to bridge digital and offline channels. It will also likely drive app installs and engagement for the brand.
Disney isn't the only media company eyeing this tactic, either: Universal Pictures earlier this summer promoted its reboot of "The Mummy" with an AR treasure hunt delivered via the Seek platform. The emphasis on gamifying AR in marketing, a strategy inspired by the Pokemon Go phenomenon last summer, has become more applicable to retailers as well. Tilly's recently ran a mobile scavenger hunt that used AR to let app users search its stores for prizes and discounts, for example.
However, the sheer global scale of the "Find the Force" pop-up event is more considerable — the release called it "unprecedented" — and Disney is playing up the shareable nature of the campaign by encouraging participants to record their experiences and post them to social media with hashtags like #FindtheForce and #ForceFriday.
Brands and developers see growing opportunity in AR's ability to overlay digital images onto the real world. An International Data Corporation forecast released earlier this year estimated that spending on AR and virtual reality would reach a combined $13.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 130.5% over last year. Looking forward, the IDC said AR/VR spending could grow at an even faster pace to $143.3 billion by 2020.