From virtual influencers and video game-inspired lines to AR shopping experiences, here are seven of our favourite advertising and marketing innovations from 2019.
With the growth of technology steadily permeating our lives, younger generations are increasingly disenchanted with traditional advertising methods.
Innovative campaigns have already demonstrated how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can greatly boost retail sales. Retailer Zara already has an AR feature for customers to “try on” items virtually, as do Gap, Ikea and many others. Goldman Sachs estimates that 32 million shoppers will be using AR and VR technologies by 2025.
Yet of all forms of technology, social media has proven to be one of the most effective ways for brands to engage with customers. Due to its deep interaction with our daily lives, an engaged social media audience has proven more valuable than any form of traditional advertising. A 2019 survey found that 59 per cent of Generation Z shoppers discover new products via social media.
1. VIRTUAL INFLUENCER HAD VERY REAL IMPACT ON FASHION INDUSTRY
Munich-based designer and creative director Joerg Zuber is the human behind one of the internet’s most influential virtual personas: Noonoouri. The digital persona has become a major player in the fashion world, closing in on 300,000 Instagram followers and having already worked with major brands like Dior, Versace and Swarovski.
Noonoouri is said to be 19 years old and living in Paris. Her Instagram posts sometimes feature product placement, like posing with a bottle of Calvin Klein’s Eternity perfume in a recent sponsored post. The post has received nearly 10,000 likes. Other times, she’ll appear in images or videos alongside notable humans from the fashion industry.
Each still image that gets posted takes about three days to create, to “find the right concept, getting her rendered in the pose in 3D, tailor making the clothes to her body and then compositing the whole,” Zuber told Springwise. Animations can take between two and six weeks, Zuber said.
2. BEAUTY COMPANY TURNED SOCIAL FOLLOWERS INTO BRAND AMBASSADORS
American beauty brand Glossier harnessed the power of user-generated content as part of a successful social media marketing strategy. By reposting images, videos and product takes from their social media followers and offering other incentives like free product giveaways to brand loyalists, it created an army of what are known as “Glossier Girls.”
Part of the strategy included encouraging the use of specific hashtags. Followers were also enticed by the possibility of earning exclusive discounts and receiving test products to try for free by mentioning the brand in their social media posts. For one launch, Glossier avoided dealing with any influencers and gave a new product away to 500 of their most engaged customers.
Glossier also treated its interactions with users on social media with care, when other brands limit their interactions to answering customer service queries. There was a conscious effort to take product feedback seriously and actually use it to shape product development, which fosters further brand loyalty.
3. LUXURY FASHION HOUSE CREATED VIDEO GAME-INSPIRED LINE
Moschino’s creative director Jeremy Scott developed a fashion line based on The Sims, the Electronic Arts’ PC game popular with the millennial generation. The designs featured graphical elements straight from the game, including a bathing suit covered in green diamonds, which players would recognise as the same ones that appear above The Sims characters’ heads.
A marketing campaign for “Moschino x The Sims Capsule Collection” featured the models Stella Maxwell, Aiden and Denek K in a Sims-like virtual-world, attempting to replicate the idea of “Avatar Realness,” as Scott describes it.
The Italian luxury brand’s line came as the 20th anniversary of The Sims, which launched in 2000, neared. Scott had been inspired by nostalgia before, including a recent runway show that paid homage to the long-running American game shows The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune.
4. ADIDAS SOLD SHOES VIA SNAPCHAT GAME
Adidas and Snapchat developed a mobile game that allowed fans to purchase limited-edition baseball cleats directly. Fans could play “Baseball’s Next Level” online or through the Snapchat app. The 8-bit mobile game featured MLB athletes wearing their own limited-edition cleats from the Adidas 8-bit collection.
Users could then purchase the cleats directly through the game. This was the first time retail products had been available for purchase directly through a Snapchat game. But the campaign was not the first time Adidas has partnered with Snapchat to promote its products. In 2018, consumers could “try on” Adidas’ Ultraboost 19 running shoes using Snapchat’s camera.
5. JAPANESE STARTUP GENERATED PHOTOREALISTIC AI-HUMANS
Japanese startup DataGrid developed an AI algorithm that could spit out an endless parade of realistic-appearing humans that don’t exist. In a video demonstrating the tech, the AI humans continuously morphed into new people, showing off different poses and looks.
By using a generative adversarial network(GAN), DataGrid said, “it is possible to generate non-existent, whole-body model images with high resolution and high quality,” as stated in its press release.
GAN is a system that uses one AI network to constantly test the product created by a second network. In this case, one network generates images, while the second network tries to spot the ones that are computer-generated. This information is then used by the first network to improve the quality of the images it creates. Over time, the generator network is able to create images that cannot be distinguished from real people.
6. LEGO POP-UP STORE OFFERED AUGMENTED REALITY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
The Danish Lego Group demonstrated the potential of augmented reality (AR) shopping in February with a London pop-up shop. The store was completely empty, save a large Snapcode, the QR code that opens features on the Snapchat app. Shoppers snapped a photo of the Snapcode to unveil the “real” shopping experience through AR. They then walked around the empty space, viewing a virtual shop via their phones. The shop featured an interactive DJ booth, a LEGO bouncer, an arcade machine, and clothes.
The experience may have been virtual but the shopping was real. Customers paid using Snapchat’s ‘Shop Now’ feature, which linked to the Lego Wear e-commerce site. Purchased items were delivered to their homes.
7. VENDING MACHINES SOLD INSTAGRAM FEATURES TO PROMOTE DOCUMENTARY
A social media documentary offered a scathing take on three teenagers’ interaction with their Instagram account. To promote the film, the media agency Conscious Minds took an unusual advertising strategy.
Social Animals, the documentary in question, sought to illustrate the effects of Instagram on users’ lives by looking at three individuals’ relationships with the platform. Conscious Minds produced two vending machines to promote the release and reflect its message. They sold satirical social media-themed physical products. The options ranged from a pack of ‘1,000 likes’ to a ‘Sliding into DMs package.’
The machines sat in various “Insta-worthy” locations across Los Angeles and San Francisco. All proceeds went to Reboot & Recover, a non-profit dedicated to building awareness and treatments related to digital addictions and mental health.
22nd November 2019