PepsiCo experiments with augmented reality advertising

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | June 08, 2010
For the first time in India, PepsiCo tests a new engagement technique, 'augmented reality advertising' or 'ARvertising', to engage youth with the 7Up brand

Andhra Pradesh is witness to a new form of advertising these days, as PepsiCo tries out 'augmented reality (AR) advertising' or 'ARvertising' for its 7Up brand.

Augmented reality involves the addition of virtual elements to the real environment. Virtual elements could include computer-generated images, video clips or textual information pulled from the internet; while the real environment includes elements such as a printed picture, object, or a building or landscape. To retrieve additional or 'virtual' material, the user would need an information 'reader' -- such as a web camera connected to an internet-enabled computer, or the camera of a GPRS-enabled mobile phone -- which can identify the real object, and then pull out 'virtual' information contextually related to the real object.

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For instance, an advertiser could embed a special code in its logo or a picture printed in ads or packaged material. Thus, whenever users point their mobile-phone or web camera to the logo/picture, they could get some additional information from the internet, such as images, video clips, or discount offer details, on their mobile or computer screen.

In the case of 7Up, PepsiCo has initiated a two-month campaign, 'You Click, Allu Arjun Dance'. The Tollywood actor is famous for his dancing skills and is also 7Up's brand ambassador in the South.

For this campaign, PepsiCo has created videos of Allu Arjun performing seven different dance styles, which are hosted on the website, A small-size code, 'black and white picture or graphic image', has also been developed, which the company will print on 600ml 7Up PET bottles distributed in AP. This coded image is the virtual key or enabler for users to access the dance videos.

Speaking to afaqs!, Carlton D'Silva, creative director, Hungama Digital, the agency which is managing this digital campaign, explains, "First, the online user will be required to open the 7Up website and click a link -- available on the site's homepage - titled 'Now everyone can make Allu Arjun dance'. This will prompt him to connect his computer with a web camera, select the dance-style video and then point the camera to the coded image printed on the PET bottle. Once the 'black and white image' gets decoded through the camera, which acts like a reader, the video will start playing."

These videos can also be accessed on operating system (OS) based mobile phones, which are internet enabled. For this, users will be first required to download a special software or application on their mobile phones. Then, a user can open the application, select the camera mode and point the camera to image on the PET bottle, in order to play the videos.

Alpana Titus, executive vice-president, flavours, PepsiCo India, tells afaqs!, "The objective behind this campaign is to create buzz and positive word-of-mouth about 7Up among the youth in Andhra Pradesh. We have opted for AP, because it is an important market. About 25 per cent of the country's lemon-based drinks sales come from here."

"We have figured out that dancing and Allu Arjun are popular among the youth in AP. Thus, we have zeroed in on dancing and the Tollywood star for the campaign. Augmented reality has been opted for; as we want to carry out a disruptive initiative, which will create interest, and thus, engage users with the brand," she adds.

Titus indicates that the company will consider unique visitors on the 7Up website, time spent by users and the level of engagement, to judge the effectiveness of the ARvertising campaign. Based on the success of the campaign in AP, it may be extended to other states too.