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AR brings The Lion King to life at Ackermans

Read time 2min 40sec

Ackermans has partnered with Sea Monster, and the Disney franchise, to deliver a more immersive experience to South African shoppers.

The clothing retailer will be bringing their Lion King movie merchandise to life using a custom-developed Augmented Reality (AR) app set for release on 25 July; just in time to complement the theatre release of the 2019 remake of the popular animated film.

Using the app’s AR capabilities, shoppers will get the chance to experience fully-animated 3D scenes simply by scanning pictures of their favourite characters featured on merchandise or on in-store displays.

According to Rodain Joubert, an experience designer at the Cape Town-based Sea Monster gaming and animation studio and the creative lead on the project, direct merchandise scanning is fairly common in Europe and the US, but it hasn’t really made too much of an impact in South Africa. “It’s about time we give South African audiences similar experiences to what others are enjoying overseas.”

Obviously, the team from Sea Monster have done extensive work within the AR space but this is the first time they’ve collaborated on a Disney-branded experience around a Disney film, he says.

Keen to make these interactive experiences available to as many customers as possible, Joubert and his team made sure that app downloads weren’t too data intensive. The Ackermans Live app is light (less than 80MB) and is an entirely self-contained eco-system, once downloaded, notes Joubert. “The only additional costs users will need to consider is when they decide to share pics.”

For Joubert, another thing that they had to consider when designing the AR experience was the fact that the average South African shopper isn’t necessarily carrying a high-end smartphone. Many users of the Ackermans Live app will have their first introduction to the exciting world of AR via this experience so it was very important that everything was created with these customers in mind, he continues. All the instructions around how to scan images and how to experience these exciting 3D effects are available in the store.

The idea is to make in-store experiences become less routine and more novel, which is great for consumers and retailers alike, concludes Joubert. For Ackermans, this kind of in-store activation is a great way to deliver extra value to customers; something beyond just giving them a price discount.

“AR is becoming more and more sophisticated. We’re really hoping to pave the way for this kind of thing in SA. Starting out with something that is fun and engaging and novel, especially for young kids and parents. And the hope is that we’ll eventually help people to realise that AR is a really useful resource. I want AR to stop being novel in SA and start to become normal.”

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