- Agency INPHANTRY launched an augmented reality (AR) app for sportswear brand Puma that pairs with the new limited-edition LQD Cell Origin Air sneaker. Instead of using QR codes to activate the experience, the app is designed to recognize the shoe when scanned with a smartphone camera through machine learning and AR tracking, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Wearers can download the app from Apple's App Store or Google Play to access the features, which include photo and video filters, games and special effects that mobile users can share on social media. The "fire filter" lets users virtually light their sneakers on fire, and is the first of several filters Puma will roll out in the coming months.
- The mobile AR game, "LQDASH," challenges a user's agility for the chance to win a pair of the limited-edition shoes. Separate from the app experience, an AI-powered lookbook of sneaker and street fashion was created by INPHANTRY based on images that were generated as the AI learned to recognize the sneaker in different backgrounds.
Puma's app-powered AR experience gives younger, digitally native consumers another reason to choose its brand among the vast array of styles that line the walls of shoe stores. Younger consumers who grew up using smartphones tend to seek experiences they can share on social media, which supports the enduring popularity of AR filters and lenses on apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Such sharing is the essence of viral marketing that extends the reach of ad campaigns through user-generated content.
While Puma wants to generate buzz for its new LQD Cell shoes through the app with AR games and photo features, the app appears to lack a commerce element, forcing users to leave the mobile platform to further inspect and purchase the limited-edition sneakers. This friction limits the app's capabilities and may discourage people from making a purchase.
AR, which overlays digital images on the real world through a smartphone camera, has become a popular tool in marketing apparel. Adidas in December partnered with Snapchat for an AR lens that let mobile users virtually try on its Ultraboost 19 running shoe before its release date. That preview was reportedly the first time that Snapchat let users virtually sample a sneaker with an AR lens. Timing it ahead of a shoe drop drums up excitement among sneakerheads and could lead to higher sales and brand memorability.
Puma last year was among the most-mentioned brands on Instagram because its products appeared in posts by celebrities with strong followings. Singer and actress Selena Gomez, who at that time was the most popular woman on Instagram with 144 million followers, helped Puma with a post that spurred 7.5 million interactions, more than any other brand-related post.