The "what (blank) are you" augmented reality filters on Instagram have become so popular that more and more Hollywood giants are following the augmented reality-powered social media meme train, with the latest example coming via Snapchat.
The trendy camera effects that started with the Which Disney filter and morphed into similar tributes to Harry Potter, Pokémon, and Simpsons Characters has now been adopted by one of the biggest streaming media brands on the planet: Hulu.
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Now a property in Disney's vast entertainment arsenal, Hulu has put its own spin on the popular AR filter trend with a Sponsored Lens on Snapchat, as opposed to Instagram, where the filters built on the Spark AR platform first gained popularity.
Despite the change of venue, the experience on Snapchat isn't too different from the Instagram version. The filters on Instagram typically start when recording starts and stops after a set time.
Hulu's "What Should I Watch" Snapchat Lens starts when users tap the screen, which puts the images of Hulu shows into shuffle, and stops when users raise their eyebrows.
This is Us? No thanks. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? I'll take it. Keeping up with the Kardashians? Hard no. Letterkenny? Pitter patter, let's get at'er.
According to a Snap spokesperson, the Lens has been running in the Lens Carousel throughout this week for Snapchat users in the US. However, like some previous Snapchat marketing campaigns, not all users will be able to see the Lens since its appearance is based on various (undisclosed) usage patterns being targeted by Hulu. The "what (blank) are you" capability is fairly new, but Snapchat has used it on other Lenses due to its popularity.
Back on Instagram, at least one AR startup has gotten in on the act as well. Kirin Sinha, the founder and CEO of Illumix, recently published "Which FNAF?" featuring characters from the company's debut AR game, Five Nights at Freddy's AR Special Delivery. You can try it out yourself by navigating to Sinha's profile and tapping the filters tab (denoted by the smiley face with sparkles).
However, Sinha says she built her version over the course of a Friday night. The DIY nature of the experience removes the cringe factor that the big brand brings to proceedings.
It's a peculiar quirk of creativity in the digital age, when viral humor is often repurposed by brands. Sometimes it works, as with the infamously-snarky Twitter account for Wendy's. But other times the result is more like Steve Buscemi's meme-able character on 30 Rock -- sweaty, overearnest, and phony.
And it's interesting to see the same cycle play out with augmented reality. The duality of the platforms for Snapchat and Facebook/Instagram, where creators and brands contribute AR experiences for the masses, practically guarantees we'll see another episode of brands acting cool around fellow kids.
Additional reporting by Adario Strange