Augmented Reality Drives Interest in Interactive Print

Consumers today want to go interact with brands beyond just a simple purchase.

Joann Whitcher
June 1, 2018
Living Wine Labels 5afdc3d66e692
19 crimes wine selection featuring AR printed label possibilities

Last year, Treasury Wine Estates created a sensation with its augmented reality label for its 19 Crimes brand. Consumers that downloaded the 19 Crimes app from the app store and scanned the wine label were treated to true tales of British criminals accused of 19 specific crimes punishable by relocation to Australia.

Launched July 2017, the 19 Crimes AR label was conceived to help drive consumer engagement, taking into account that smartphones are an integral part of consumers’ lives. TWE collaborated with Tactic, a creative technology company, and J. Walter Thompson SF to create the award-winning label. To bring the 19 criminals to life, Tactic combined its expertise in character animation, visual effects, and mobile AR.

“We were looking at ways to add an interesting experiential element to bring our brands to life to the consumer—both at the shelf and aft er purchase, when consumers are enjoying our wine,” explained Michelle Terry, Chief Marketing Officer, Treasury Wine Estates.

“We saw AR as an opportunity to tell a brand story in a highly engaging and novel way,” she added. “We had a vision to disrupt the category, going beyond traditional approaches of neck-tags or paper-based point of sale, to engage consumers at the point of purchase.”

The first of its kind in the wine category, reported Terry, the platform has driven strong growth for 19 Crimes—across the US and globally as well. Based on this initial success, five brands are now live with the Living Wine Labels app; along with19 Crimes, the brands include Walking Dead, Beringer Brothers, Lindeman’s Gentleman’s Collection, and Chateau St. Jean).

Technology Trends in AR

Augmented reality is coming into its own. While it’s been around for a number of years, it wasn’t until Pokemon Go and SnapChat integrated AR into their applications that the technology captured the hearts and minds of consumers, brands, and marketers.

AR falls into the category of interactive or connected print – the ability to interact with printed material (such as catalogs, direct mail, inserts, displays, and packaging) using a mobile phone (or some other digital-enable device). The various technologies that enable interactive print may be text-based (e.g., short codes, long codes, phone numbers); code-based (UPC, QR); proximity-based (NFC, beacons) and image-based (e.g., image recognition, watermarks).

BlueSoho, the marketing and content services agency that is a division of Quad Graphics, has delivered over 5,000 connected print activations (print to digital) since 2010. It has been part of a number of first wide scale uses of various interactive print technologies: the NFC program for Wired/Lexus; AR and watermarks for the 2018 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (which also used virtual reality); AR and image recognition for Esquire and Redbook; Microsoft Tag for Lucky Magazine; NFC and bluetooth pop-up kiosks for US Bank; and beacons with RetailerNOW. BlueSoho also worked with the Editor of Cosmo to put a QR code on the cover that was basically a ‘reveal’ meets ‘deal of the day’—it performed quite well in terms of scans (clickthroughs), email capture, and overall engagement, said John Puterbaugh, Ph.D., Managing Director for BlueSoho.

“Publishers were the main early adopters of interactive print tech,” he added. “More recently, we’ve worked with a wide range of catalogers and direct mailers and retailers.”

Doing it Right Interactive print and social connected activations are important amplifiers in multi-channel marketing programs, Puterbaugh said. Th e activations, used in grand openings and campaigns tailored to drive in-store foot traffic, help amplify a wide range of brand touchpoints, from direct mail to in-store pop-up displays. Employing AR or other types of interactive print is not without its risk. Besides the production challenges, brands have to navigate a fine line between being ‘hokey’ and having the AR experience resonate with the consumer. Treasury Wine Estates has certainly accomplished the latter. What made it work?

“We delivered a range of consumer experiences through the AR platform– these include bringing characters from the brand to life on the label (19 Crimes), providing extension of TV entertainment and characters (Walking Dead), promoting the history of a winery (Beringer Bros) and more recently, educating wine lovers through the voice of the winemaker (Chateau St Jean), and providing tips on etiquette for the modern gentleman via Lindeman’s Gentleman’s Collection,” said Terry.

Consumers today want to go interact with brands beyond just a simple purchase; they are looking to be part the brand story, part of something bigger.

“The Living Wine Label app allows our consumers to be part of a community,” said Terry. “It becomes a portal for TWE to build relationships with our consumers.”

“AR has contributed to 19 Crimes experiencing double digit growth and becoming a $1.5 million case brand,” said Mitchell. “It won the Impact Hot Brands award in the US, which recognized the role of AR in driving growth of the brand, and has also just won a Super REGGIE – an extremely prestigious marketing award in the US recognizing the best marketing campaigns from brands and agencies.”

Building on the Possibilities

“We think retailers are looking for new ways to engage consumers and this technology cuts through the noise of the busy shelf,” said Terry.

Marketers and brands continue to explore the realm of interactive print. Extended Reality (XR), which includes immersive media, 360 video, mixed reality, VR, as well as AR, has proven to have very high engagement numbers that surpass video in a number of areas, said Puterbaugh.

“The challenge is that extended reality (XR) and immersive media are arguably a new form of media and storytelling that is akin to when we went from radio to TV,” he added. “Transitioning to new media formats can be very disruptive and oft en are based on prior media formats and structures.”

Also proving challenging is reach and distribution, noted Puterbaugh. However, this is just the beginning. Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore are bringing built-in AR capabilities to the smartphone.

“Going forward, our focus is how to help retailers and brand marketers deliver integrated, multi-channel programs designed to help them achieve their business goals,” said Puterbaugh. “As part of this process, various amplifi cation vehicles such as interactive print are integrated into the overall campaign based on the locations, target audience, and overall campaign goals.