One of AR’s strengths as a marketing medium is to make static packaging come to life. The thought is that it builds on existing assets and sunk costs in packaged goods. In other words, brands don’t need to pay for AR ad space when they already own the packaging.

But AR also continues to prove that it’s not a silver bullet that works everywhere. And that applies to marketing: the technology works in some products better than others. Fitting product categories so far include furniture, clothing & cosmetics try-ons, and alcoholic beverages.

Those first few examples make sense because AR can contextualize purchases and instill buyer confidence in bulky items or style nuances. Beverages are less obvious but are a top AR marketing category. In some ways AR ads a fun “party-favor” dynamic to spirits.

AR Marketing: Best Practices & Case Studies, Volume II

Whimsical Vibes

Discovery Wines took all of this to heart and applied AR to enliven some of its physical labels. It specifically leaned into AR’s whimsical vibes to create dynamic animated packaging for its 19 Crimes brand. AR caused the labels themselves to come to life and tell a story.

Its goal in choosing 19 Crimes was to give it more exposure. It was a new label and needed a viral kick, which turned out to be the right job for AR. The company subsequently used AR on other labels (more on that in a bit). But most of all, AR had brand alignment with 19 Crimes’ theme.

As background for those unfamiliar, 19 Crimes bottles feature mug shots of 19th-century criminals, portrayed on old-timey daguerreotype images. Working with agency TACTIC, it animated these images with AR, which created an effect similar to Harry Potter moving paintings.

To do this, TACTIC used Unity to create the animations and used the labels themselves as activation markers. This made it user-friendly for consumers to simply point their phones at the bottles to activate AR. And the entire thing happened within the 19-Crimes app as well as web AR.

And the result? The AR experience achieved 30 million views in the first month, which then jumped to 1 million+ in later months. Such spikes are often seen in things that have novelty….before usage plummets. But 19 Crimes was able to sustain monthly plays of around 750,000.

Tactics & Takeaways

So what were the takeaways and transferrable lessons from the campaign? First, to reiterate a point made above, AR works best when there’s brand alignment. That can work for brands that have a certain degree of whimsy or gimmicky vibes (meant in the best possible way).

AR is also most successful when there’s brand commitment to see things through. In Discovery Wines’ case, it tied the AR experience to its tastings and other events. It found AR to be a fitting tie-in, given the “party-favor” dynamic noted above. The company leaned into AR’s fun side.

Its commitment level was also demonstrated in sticking with AR, rather than a “one and done” experiment. This let the company continually build on its knowledge of effective AR execution and get better at it. This also allowed it to amortize the cost of initial 3D asset creation.

In fact, Discovery Wines went a step further and had TACTIC create an AR platform to be used across its other labels. This standardized the process and avoided having to reinvent the wheel in subsequent campaigns. It even baked in analytics including CRM to track customer lifetime value.

Next up for Discovery Wines is to double down on web AR. As noted, the campaign utilized a mobile app. But web AR promises less activation friction due to its cross-platform orientation. And web AR quality and capabilities continue to ratchet up thanks to innovators like 8th Wall.

We’ll pause there and circle back in the next Campaign Tracker with another AR marketing case study… 

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