Phygital Entertainment: Mixed Reality Play

In 2022, digital entertainment hit a new high. 50% of respondents in a Foresight Factory survey said they bought or would be interested in buying virtual tokens like in-game skins. At the same time, an equally significant segment continues to experience post-pandemic skin hunger.

In response, brands are investing in cohesive, multi-sensorial experiences that simultaneously unlock play across IRL and digital. Exclusive access, a collective mood and various levels of quasi-physical gamification are playing a part in next-gen brand entertainment.

1. Mixed Reality Quests

In an increasingly complex world, consumers crave both a sense of purpose and immediate gratification. Combining real and digital worlds together, along with cultural sensitivity, can help savvy brands stand out. Last year saw 11 million Filipino consumers, one of the fastest-growing gaming cohorts globally, going on a hunt for virtual tortilla chips in their living rooms.

As a favourite snack brand for gamers, Doritos capitalised on the excitement around the launch of Playstation 5 with an AR Quest. The mobile-only, virtual AR game combined blockchain and geolocation technology, giving users a chance to win consoles and games.

Phygital Entertainment: Mixed Reality Play

Doritos AR Quest

During their 2021 Maker Festival in China, Alibaba’s Taobao sent attendants on a large-scale phygital treasure hunt, with immersive clues and challenges spread across the 30,000 sqm expo. Attendants were able to unlock tasks on the event’s main website while browsing the makers’ booths on-site.

2. Fandom Enters a New Frontier

Media and entertainment giants have long capitalised on narrowing the gap between fans and their cult favourites. Now brands can go a step further and invite consumers to join in, co-create, and spread the word in third-space realms.

Disney, Verizon, Google, and Snap Inc. celebrated the powers of iconic Avengers with a special series of 4G and 5G AR lenses. The reactive tracing filters allowed fans to wear Thor’s armour or shoot energy beams from their hands, Captain Marvel style, and share with their friends.

Phygital Entertainment: Mixed Reality Play

Avengers AR

For the pre-launch of ‘Finding Magic Mike’, HBO Max created a web-based activation where users can project virtual representations of real-life contestants performing on surfaces in their vicinity.

The experience allows for in-game interactions like ‘making it rain’ with neon dollars or toasting the talent, and users can share their experiences on social using the hashtag #FindingMagicMike.

Burger King partnered with UK rap artist Tiny Tinie to create a small-scale, private AR concert. The experience, where users scanned the QR code on the package to unlock Tinie's performance on top of their Whopper, resulted in 10.8M social impressions and 468K TikTok views.

Phygital Entertainment: Mixed Reality Play

Burger King x Tinie Tempah

3. In-store Play

Brick-and-mortar stores are fast becoming experiential spaces that go beyond retail. Brands need to find new ways to immerse consumers on-site, ​​driving content experiences that cross over into digital and enhance their online selves.

To celebrate this year’s creative theme, Superfutures, Selfridges launched an experiential concept store called Supermarket. In this futuristic, planet-friendly retail space, consumers discovered NFT digital artworks, real-time 3D tailoring, and explore new ownership concepts with alternative jewellery pricing models.

Phygital Entertainment: Mixed Reality Play

Selfridges Superfutures

What does this mean for brands?

  1. When it comes to the ideal purchase journey, consumers increasingly value participation and co-creation. Tap into culture with interactive challenges and games that combine elements of both digital and IRL.

  2. Unlock brand storytelling by placing QR codes in physical spaces. Consider entertaining shop visitors with location-locked AR filters that are fun and shareable.

  3. Transform brick-and-mortar locations into experiential spaces through in-person events with social creators. Then maximise value by live-streaming across your main social channels.

  4. Strengthen loyalty by offering consumers souvenirs of IRL brand experiences. Explore drop initiatives, new discount models and loyalty programmes, or NFT certificates of attendance.

  5. Bring platform partners on board for mixed reality projects and use native solutions like TikTok’s Branded Effects or Snapchat’s Lens studio.