A game launching today on the ConAgra brand's Facebook page invites people to enable their webcams, mark the position of their mouth in a video mirror image of themselves, and then contort their necks to "catch" the puffed kernels as they fall like snow on the screen.
Called "Pop Cam," the game was created by Possible Worldwide - which has held the Orville Redenbacher's account for more than four years (back then the agency was called Bridge). Aimed in part at Facebooking moms navigating the treacherous waters of family snacking, it continues an ad strategy embraced last spring, when TV, Internet, and mobile ads began touting popcorn's health credentials (whole grain, high fiber, low sodium - that is until you shower it with salt).
As you play, the game periodically proclaims these advantages. "The campaign helps mom understand popcorn can be a guilt free snack and Orville is the leader of the category," said Brian LeCount, director of strategic insights and planning at Possible.
Pop Cam was built by Possible Labs, Possible Worldwide's R&D unit.
"Augmented reality is something we've been exploring in labs for a number of years," said Jeff Busdieker, lead creative technologist and head of Possible Labs. He notes that early augmented reality required activation through a so-called marker or token. Those tokens often take the form of a printed icon, which functions as a glorified QR code. They are usually black and white and must be uniquely defined so the software can recognize them.
"We realized early on that that's not very friendly for our brands," he said. But this is no longer the case. "As we started to explore it over the years, the market became less complex as the software got better."
The technology has now improved to the extent that Busdieker expects his team will test augmented campaigns for the mobile channel in 2012. Those executions will require an app, and may offer actually useful, as opposed to merely fanciful, interfaces - for instance ratings and reviews of in-store products.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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