- Italian coffee brand Lavazza and the U.K.'s Arsenal Football Club rolled out a web-based augmented reality (AR) experience for soccer fans who miss the sport during pandemic lockdowns. The brands are working on the month-long campaign with AR developer Blippar, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Arsenal is publicizing the AR experience on social media, including its Facebook page, giving fans a chance to see the team's players come to life in mobile web browsers. Fans can enter a contest for a chance to win an Arsenal jersey with autographs from the entire team, and get a discount on an Arsenal-edition coffee maker from Lavazza.
- The campaign uses Blippar's WebAR platform to create immersive experiences for the web, removing the requirement to download a separate app to see AR-based content, per Blippar.
Lavazza and Arsenal's web-based AR experience aims to connect with soccer fans who are hungry for any kind of team-related content while the coronavirus pandemic prevents sports organizations from hosting games. The English Premier League that includes Arsenal suspended play on March 13, and it's unclear whether the organization will be able to resume operations amid concerns about the health crisis, ESPN reported. In the meantime, Arsenal can maintain its visibility with fans who are using their smartphones to stay connected during lockdowns with its immersive AR experience. For Lavazza, the AR experience is a way to get in front of soccer fans as traditional sports marketing is sidelined along with gameplay.
The campaign also is a sign that Blippar has maintained operations following a rocky period that landed the company in administration, a U.K. form of bankruptcy. Blippar at one time boasted a valuation of more than $1 billion, making it one of the few British tech "unicorns." Last year, the company found a financial savior when British property tycoon Nick Candy, whose Candy Ventures had helped to back Blippar, bought the startup's name and underlying AR technologies. In October, Blippar hired Faisal Galaria, a former executive at Spotify and Kayak, as CEO to help turn around the company, Campaign reported.
AR technology has found plenty of marketing applications — especially in social media advertising, beauty try-ons, consumer loyalty programs and product showcasing for retailers — but companies dedicated to AR development have faced significant challenges in getting consumers to adopt the technology except on their smartphones.
As a sign of the difficulties, AR headset developer Magic Leap this month cut half of its workforce and announced that it would focus on developing technology for the enterprise market. AR headsets that let wearers see a digital feed of images and information as they move around the real world may one day replace smartphones for some consumers. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snap and Sony are among the tech companies that already sell AR headsets or have indicated interest in the burgeoning market through acquisitions and investments.