Rebecca Castellani

Augmented reality (AR) has been shaking up the mobile game industry since the 2016 Pokemon Go craze — but now it’s infiltrating the digital marketing sector, bringing a dimension of interactivity to advertising. 

In 2017, the worldwide AR market size was approximately 3.5 billion, but Statista predicts it will exceed 198 billion by 2025. The popularity of AR is growing because AR ad campaigns work. In 2014, Pepsi’s “Unbelievable” AR ad in a London bus shelter went viral and became one of YouTube’s most viewed ad campaigns. The “Unbelievable” ad used 3D graphics to attract attention and elicit a public reaction from passersby, but other AR ads take a more immersive, gamified approach or engage viewers with some interactive spectacle. Some even use AR to provide unique customer services — especially during the pandemic.


When it comes to creative applications of AR, the sky really is the limit — and savvy mobile marketers would be wise to take advantage of this emergent technology. Check out these three innovative AR ads to inspire your own AR campaign strategy.  

Burger King x Angry Birds

Burger King recently teamed up with Rovio Entertainment, the developer responsible for the popular Angry Birds franchise, to create a unique AR experience to promote their “King JR” kids meals. By scanning a QR code printed on various Burger items and signage, consumers activate an Angry Birds game in which they must defend three 3D eggs from nefarious “Hatchlings.” Hatchlings are deterred by tapping them or launching slime catapults to slow their progress, eventually leading to a power-up that automatically flips the camera to front-facing mode and allows players to blow all the Hatchlings away. The AR experience concludes with an opportunity to save a photo of the Angry Birds experience, which can then be shared with friends, extending the power of this ad campaign from the player to their social network. 

Burberry’s “World of Olympia” campaign

In a bid to attract consumers to brick-and-mortar retailers post-lockdown, Burberry launched its latest handbag, Olympia, with an AR experience in the British department store Harrods. Unlike quick, phone-bound experiences, the “World of Olympia” campaign is more like a living art installation. From among the half-moon handbags and Grecian columns rises a QR code on a square white pedestal. Scan it, and the code awakens a Greek statue of Elpis, the spirit of hope. Elpis glides before the customer and product, seamlessly bridging the gap between digital and physical. It’s a sight customers actually want to photograph and share, making Burberry’s AR campaign an effective sales — and brand marketing — tool. After this successful debut in Harrods, Burberry plans to install more “World of Olympia” AR pop-ups in stores like Galaxy Macau and Bergdorf Goodman. 

IKEA’s “Escape the Clutter”

Earlier this year, IKEA announced the launch of “Escape the Clutter,” a “brand-new, first-of-its-kind, crazy-fun-but-also-fairly challenging augmented reality escape room on Snapchat.” After downloading Snapchat and scanning the IKEA Snapcode, players use IKEA organization solutions to clean up the room, find keys, and escape the clutter. IKEA also created a physical escape room and filmed three Buzzfeed employees interacting with the IKEA furniture. The “Escape the Clutter” campaign works as both a product and brand marketing tool, but it also serves a third purpose: to acquaint the IKEA customer base with AR experiences. Like many other online retailers, IKEA now offers customers the ability to test out scaled AR projections of IKEA products in their own homes with IKEA Place. This use of AR technology in advertising and customer service gives IKEA a sense of cutting-edge credibility — not to mention a serious cool factor.