Behind the scenes: BMW's augmented reality campaign
LONDON - BMW and Dare have come up with one of the first blueprints of how to create a successful augmented reality campaign. Revolution goes behind the scenes to follow the initiative from start to finish.
BMW worked with Dare to create an AR campaign
BMW's record in creating original digital campaigns goes back to the ambitious BMW Films project, a vast story told over a series of cinema-quality videos. By turning to augmented reality (AR) to promote the latest Z4 Roadster, the car marque wanted to turn heads and associate the brand with cutting-edge technology. GSD&M, one of BMW's lead agencies, created a global above-the-line campaign featuring performance artist Robin Rhode - he choreographed a Z4 driving across a canvas the size of a football field; jets squirted paint in front of the rear wheels, which acted as a brush, to communicate 'an expression of joy'. As a roster agency, Dare was asked to create a digital campaign to complement the wider TV and press activity.
Dare's remit is to provide strategic development for BMW's digital advertising activity, as well as the creation of website material for newly launched products.
The goal of this project, for the latest Z4 Roadster model from BMW, was to give consumers the opportunity to experience, and interact with, the car without having to physically go to a showroom to do so.
According to Toby Horry, planning director at Dare, it became clear early on in the planning process that AR was the way to go.
AR gives users the ability to engage with a product by creating a holographic image using printed codes and webcams. Holding a printed piece of paper up to the webcam gives the illusion that there is a three-dimensional object in front of the viewer.
"You have to be up to speed with what's going on in the digital world so that when the opportunities come around you can know which new technology will work for your campaign and how to apply it," says Horry.
"AR made sense for this campaign because of the technology's ability to allow the user to manipulate the vehicle and create their own art work."
At the heart of the online campaign is the app powered by Inition's AR technology MagicSymbol. Users were invited to create their own 'expression of joy' - the theme and strapline of the campaign - by downloading the app from bmw.co.uk. Once installed, the app let users try out different features of the car, as represented in AR, and customise it. MagicSymbol also allowed them to create paint trails with a virtual Z4 on their desk, floor, garden path - or whatever surface that they chose to use as a canvas.
Over the course of development, the campaign became more interactive, says Horry. "In the beginning it was very basic - consumers would print out a symbol and see the car," he explains. "Then we added manoeuvrability, the paint and the ability to retract the car roof."
Although coding the app to make it Mac compatible posed a technical challenge for the development team, Horry says there were no major hiccups during production. "Because we heavily researched the project at the start we were sure we weren't promising the client something we couldn't deliver," he adds.
The app was made available through BMW's website, and was supported by a Facebook fan page showing how it was created. The fan page has so far attracted 850 fans.
Users were also given the option of recording their 'painting' in action through their webcam and uploading the results to YouTube.
To encourage downloads of the app, a short film was produced and seeded on the Google-owned video-sharing site. It generated 20,300 views in just over two weeks. The YouTube channel and Facebook group were created specifically to tap into social network users' passion for new technology. They helped create a buzz around the AR campaign that quickly spread across the web.
While AR is fast becoming a favoured marketing tool for car marques, Dare's use of the technology created standout by applying arguably the best creative example to date.
Dare supported the social activity with a paid-for media strategy, planned by Zed Media, which included viral seeding and rich-media ad placements, with the demo video featured in expandable banners.
The app is also being promoted via direct marketing and press activity, with the AR symbol already printed for quick interaction.
Horry says that due to the interactive nature of the campaign, it was crucial that all elements were released simultaneously to ensure a coherent customer journey, whether that be from the TV ad to the website or from a blog through to Facebook.
He says the digital elements of the campaign "hit the sweet spot". Horry adds: "BMW has always taken a traditional approach to marketing and is trying to move more towards digital. Yet it's not a question of throwing out traditional media because obviously that's still important for the brand. It was a question of what we could do on top of that."
This article was first published on revolutionmagazine.com
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