- Syfy, the cable channel owned by NBCUniversal, updated the mobile app for its dark comedy series "Happy!" with fresh augmented reality (AR) experiences. The iOS app now lets mobile users see a digital version of Happy, the imaginary flying unicorn that haunts the thoughts of a cynical hitman named Nick Sax, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The cable channel also unveiled a "Sax Yourself" Facebook filter that uses the social network's in-app camera to let users decorate selfies with a virtual version of Sax's scarf and beat-up appearance, including a faux cut, black eye and bandage. Patton Oswalt, the comedian who voices Happy, recorded about two dozen lines of new audio for the AR filter.
- Syfy worked with Glimpse, a developer of AR and virtual reality (VR) content, on the Facebook face filter and updated app. The app relies on Apple's ARKit technology to create the immersive mobile experience.
AR animation is a natural fit for a series like "Happy!" that has an imaginary unicorn who talks to the show's main character. Fans of the show can now interact with Happy through the Facebook photo filter and snap selfies that they can share on social media. The additional engagement will likely generate greater awareness of the show's 10-episode second season, which premiered on March 27, and extend the campaign's reach to mobile-savvy viewers.
Immersive content has become a key part of promoting TV shows, movies and video games over the past few years to drum up interest ahead of a premiere or release. Warner Bros. last month teamed up with Snapchat to create a voice-activated AR lens for the promotion of superhero movie "Shazam!" Universal Pictures in February partnered with Snapchat on the first sponsored facial-recognition lenses for animals as part of the promotional activity for "The Secret Life of Pets 2" movie that opens on June 7, per Variety.
AR experiences are another way for entertainment properties to engage tech-savvy fans beyond static, traditional ads or trailers. Syfy also is experimenting with interactive storytelling similar to Netflix's "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" choose-your-own-adventure film released at the end of 2018. Syfy next month will release an AR/VR experience called "Eleven Eleven" that lets viewers follow six interlocking stories set during the final minutes of a fictional planet before it's destroyed. Syfy teased the project at the South By Southwest festival in March, The Verge reported.