- Mars' M&M's brand transformed Times Square into an interactive augmented reality (AR) arcade — or "ARcade" — as part of the launch of a campaign for its new Caramel chocolate candy, according to a company news release.
- Smartphone and tablet users who downloaded the free AR app Blippar, available on Android and iOS devices, could scan billboards around the New York City destination to access vintage arcade games.
- Blippar users who couldn't make it to the Times Square event can still scan bags of the new Caramel candy to play the ARcade experience. With the campaign, M&M's aims to "unsquare" the nerdy character Caramel by integrating him with the existing roster of the brand's spokescandies. The full effort will include print, digital and large-scale outdoor advertisements.
AR-driven marketing continues to pick up traction after the early successes of Pokemon Go, and the latest M&M's effort spotlights the technology's ability to bridge real-world and digital activations to create fun, flashy brand experiences.
Setting up the retro-flavored ARcade in a touristy, traffic heavy spot like Times Square should ensure a lot of engagement and airtime for the new Caramel spokescandy, voiced by the actor and comedian David Cross in 15- and 30-second video spots.
While marketers are excited about AR's potential for bolstering omnichannel marketing efforts, the tech still hasn't quite hit the mainstream in a broad sense, though that's set to change as adoption accelerates. The mobile AR market is forecast to reach 1.9 billion unique monthly active users worldwide by 2022 and hit $18.5 billion in annual global revenue during that same period, according to research from Tractica.
For brands with enough budget for more experimental projects, third-party partnerships with specialty apps like London-based Blippar will likely prove more common until AR's learning curve is mastered. Earlier this week, Blippar unveiled it has developed a technology that can create mobile banner ads with AR features.