How AR became part of everyday life overnight

If you’d have asked Brits five years ago what augmented reality was, you’d have probably been met with radio silence from the majority of people. But today, step outside and you’re most likely to see people unwittingly using it.

Obviously I’m talking about Pokemon Go (I mean, who isn’t!) – the latest app to take the world (literally) by storm. Now I was a bit dubious when it was first announced, particularly with the negative media furore about people walking into roads and what have you, but I have to admit, I’ve given in and think I’m going to have to eat my words about it.

I’m fascinated by the exponential growth of VR that we’ve witnessed in the last two years and have been waiting for that mainstream drive for AR and low and behold, along comes Pokemon Go. Connecting people of all ages and background, all across the globe, it really is a true phenomenon. In the last week in the UK #pokemongo has had approximately 179K mentions, and globally it’s had 3.5m (more than the total number of RTs of the infamous Oscars selfie!).

Having recently completed a virtual reality campaign for GSK’s Corsodyl brand where users were shown the distress of losing a tooth, it’s incredible to see how the tech options available to us now can amplify and elevate campaign ideas beyond anything we’ve ever seen before in the PR landscape.

Reading around the subject of Pokemon Go, it’s interesting to note that the brainchild, Niantic Labs, is driven by John Hanke, the creator of Google Earth. Hanke set up Niantic Labs with the specific function of “exploring that intersection between mobile apps and geolocation and entertainment”. Hanke previously stated: “I don’t think we were built to sit in a dark room with a piece of electronics strapped on our head.” This fascination with building real social connections is set to be a defining milestone in the relationship between consumers and technology.

And it doesn’t stop there… Niantic has got its sights set on bigger things with the potential monetary evolution of the app to include ‘sponsored locations’ enabling brands to get a piece of the action.

Working in PR, we witness more and more that the boundaries between all of the disciplines are blurring and it is rapidly becoming the case across every touchpoint for consumers. People are no longer satisfied with the expected, they want to be surprised and delighted, and this is something that brands can capitalise on if they truly embrace it. As the experts in our field we need to have the confidence to challenge ourselves and guide our clients into new and exciting areas of communications.

The world we live in is constantly evolving and in order to keep PR a relevant and required part of the marketing mix, we need to be sure that we are testing those boundaries and seeing where we can push PR into new and unknown territories – that’s where you can come up with the truly game-changing ideas.

I could talk around this subject all day, but there’s a Venonat by the printer… #GottaCatchEmAll

Jessica Kirby
Senior Account Executive

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