Virtual and augmented reality are impacting the world of print.
Editor's Note: This the second of five "Imaging Reality Check” posts, each anchored by and featuring one of five videos that illustrate the examples of innovative and dynamic use of print by McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Garage Magazine, TAM Airlines (On Board magazine), and Abraxas AB (an "adult beverage" manufacturer).
When you hear the term “virtual reality,” the odds are good your first thought isn’t about print. It’s probably not even your second or third thought. But virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is where many brands are starting to turn when it comes to marketing their services and products. And that means print needs to follow.
Before we look at the ramifications for print, let me get one disclaimer out of the way: I absolutely am a “tech geek.” I love playing with all the latest and greatest gadgets, I follow tech industry news, and I am a sucker for an unboxing video. I am admittedly not what you would call unbiased when it comes to loving technology. On the flip side, I love print. I love holding it in my hands, I love getting it in the mail, I love feeling it when I come across interesting substrates, and I have a habit of trying to touch almost every printed item I can. So it is safe to say that the idea of merging print with technology is one that has me beyond excited.
And I’m not the only one.
It is truly exciting to see how brands—and by extension printers—are finding new and innovative ways to merge the print and digital worlds. I went down the rabbit hole and found some truly amazing examples to share with you that seamlessly blend the printed piece with a wide range of VR and AR technologies to create experiences that get people talking. The future of marketing is in this kind of creative warping of reality, and printers—and their partners—that can not only think outside of the box, but also redefine the very walls of the box itself will be the biggest winners tomorrow.
Example No. 2: Pizza Hut
In this campaign, McDonald’s is taking advantage of the “cardboard” trend when it comes to VR glasses, and has actually transformed its iconic Happy Meal box into a working VR headset. Users could simply insert their phone into the box once it was re-folded after the meal was taken out, and suddenly, they have access to the entire realm of VR content that is rapidly expanding. It is a way to use printed, physical packaging to connect their customers to the virtual realm, and in doing so, create a stronger relationship with them. This is a great illustration that blending print and digital doesn’t even have to be about the brand itself creating the content—it can simply be the brand finding ways to connect their customers to the exciting content in exciting new ways.
These are just five of the truly fascinating examples of ways brands have merged the print and digital realities. For printers, this opens up an entirely new avenue for creativity. Those shops that are going to the brand managers and print buyers with innovative ideas for ways to merge realities, rather than waiting for someone to come to them with the ideas already in place, will be the shops that don’t just earn the business today, but that form lasting partnerships that will continue to benefit both sides for many years to come. And the dealers who see and understand this shifting reality will be best positioned to support those printers in whatever way they need—even if they themselves don’t yet know what it is they’ll need to succeed.
Pizza Hut. This is a pretty neat application. Pizza Hut, using printed electronics, created a “playable pizza box.” Users could connect their computer or phone via Bluetooth to the box, which then became a full-fledged DJ mix station. They could adjust the volume of their music, the pitch, the speed, even “scratch” the sound. It was a limited-edition campaign that seamlessly blended their packaging with the digital world of music, creating a piece that customers wouldn’t want to just throw away.