After parting ways with Papa John's, the National Football League has drafted Pizza Hut as its official pizza purveyor, and the company has hit the field with an augmented reality game to entertain hungry football fans.
After scanning specially marked pizza boxes using the Beanbag Blitz mobile app, customers can unlock a virtual game of cornhole, the tailgating pastime whose name varies depending on where you live in the US.
The game can be played without scanning the pizza box, but the box is required to play in AR. Without a physical pizza box, the image of the pizza box in the app serves as a target for unlocking the AR game.
After a nifty animation, the game board remains anchored within the device's camera view, regardless of where the target box lies. The game mechanics should be familiar to anyone who has played Pokémon GO, with an upward swipe of the screen tossing the bean bags to towards the target.
Rather than implement some multiplayer functionality, the game is actually turn-based on a single smartphone, so be prepared to share your device with other greasy-handed pizza eaters.
"We tapped into technology to deliver a truly immersive gameday experience to fans – specifically combining what they're most passionate about: their team, the spirit of competition, and of course, pizza," said Zipporah Allen, chief marketing officer for Pizza Hut US in a statement. "Incorporating this AR component into our lineup of new experiences is broadening our digital portfolio and engaging fans in a completely new way."
The app is currently available on the App Store, but it has not yet appeared on the Google Play Store, despite Pizza Hut's stated intentions for Android availability.
Eating pizza and watching football go together like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, so Pizza Hut snagging the official NFL sponsorship status is a big deal for its business model.
In recent months, augmented reality has become the shiny new toy for many marketing teams. But in this case, the promotion comes after the point-of-sale, thus serving as an added-value experience. And since this isn't the first NFL-related implementation of the technology, the experience will likely serve as an introduction to AR for many football fans who will be exposed to immersive experiences that will be much more commonplace in coming years.
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