News: Coca-Cola Opens a Can of Augmented Reality to Get Consumers into the Holiday Spirit

Coca-Cola Opens a Can of Augmented Reality to Get Consumers into the Holiday Spirit

Halloween is barely in the rearview mirror, but Coca-Cola is ready to bypass Thanksgiving altogether to accelerate the arrival of Christmas, and the brand has enlisted augmented reality as an accomplice.

On Tuesday, the company introduced its holiday packaging for its Coca-Cola products featuring its long-running polar bear mascots on cans, bottles, and multipacks, with Santa Claus commanding six-pack glass bottle carriers.

This time around, however, customers can bring the polar bears to life with augmented reality. Using the Coca-Cola app for iOS or Android, consumers can scan the holiday-themed cans and bottles Coke to transform the packaging into a digital recreation of the polar bears' wintery domain.

Image by Coca-Cola/YouTube

"We wanted to give fans a fun new way to engage with the brand and bring the magic of the polar bears to life," said Allie Blalock, digital engagement manager for Coca-Cola North America, in a statement.

If you're not familiar with the company's polar bears, they were first made famous way back in 1993 in an iconic commercial (see below) called "Northern Lights."

In addition to bringing the polar bears to AR, you can also use the app to scan different variations of bottles and cans, which will deliver various AR scenes, including the sledding scene from the company's 2013 holiday ad campaign, snowball fights, and holiday light shows.

Furthermore, scanning two cans together produces a rendition of "Jingle Bells" played by the characters on glass bottles.

Images by Coca-Cola/YouTube

The brand's internal creative agency, KO:OP, collaborated with Coca-Cola Digital Platforms and San Francisco-based agency Tactic to create the AR experiences. Based on its track record, Coca-Cola appears to prefer the method of deploying image recognition AR experiences to reward customers for their purchase.

For instance, in a timely promotion that did not trample on other holidays, Coca-Cola ran a college football-themed Sponsored Lens in September via Snapchat that unlocked an AR marching band when users scanned Coca-Cola products via the rear camera. (Without a purchase, though, users could show their team spirit with front-facing filters.)

Roll Tide. Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

And they're not alone in this strategy, as AR has made its way into packaging for liquor and wine as well as toys and shoes via object recognition platforms.

With Apple, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Zappar, and 8th Wall, among others, offering tools for generating image and object recognition AR experiences, there's no shortage of options for retail brands to add digital value to their products.

But just because we have the technology doesn't mean we should abuse it. So, please, marketing chiefs out there, hold off on the Christmas promotions until I can have at least one serving of turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, please!

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Cover image via Coca-Cola/YouTube

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