- Mastercard and Major League Baseball used game four of the World Series to provide fans with an in-stadium augmented reality (AR) message and experience featuring Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa thanking fans for helping Mastercard raise $4 million to fight cancer over the summer along with an announcement of an additional $100,000 donation from the brand, per a Mastercard press release.
- Fans could view the AR message through the MLB.com Ballpark app, tapping on an “Augmented Reality” icon on the Houston Astros home page in the app and then aiming their mobile device cameras at the back of the SU2C placards provided in the stadium.
- The messaging was based on Mastercard’s efforts around Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and included an activation where fans were asked to stand and raise placards at their seats together at a designated time at the bottom of the fifth inning of the game.
Marketers are still working to determine the best way to make use of new technology such as AR and virtual reality (VR), and this effort from Mastercard and MLB illustrates why AR might be more attractive for most marketers for now. While full VR requires specialty hardware, an AR experience can be created through a mobile app requiring nothing more than a smartphone or other mobile device from the user. In this case, Mastercard also included a physical element with the in-stadium placard.
Live sporting events would seem to be a good opportunity to take advantage of AR technology's ability to entertain users with immersive experiences that integrate the real and digital worlds. The Mastercard effort leverages the interactivity of AR and extends this to an in-stadium experience, although delivering a message and asking attendees to stand at the appointed time but may fall short of providing the kind of entertainment sports fans are looking for. The NBA recently became the first U.S. sports league to launch a mobile game that uses AR and challenges players to shoot as many virtual baskets as possible in 30 seconds by flicking their iPhones in the direction of a digital backboard.
Last summer, the viral hit mobile game Pokemon Go gave marketers a blueprint for how AR technology can bridge the gap between online and real-world experiences. Brands have turned to VR for immersive storytelling, and AR has been deployed as part of out-of-home activations similar to the Mastercard World Series message. Another recent example was Scottish spirits company Macallan using AR via Microsoft’s HoloLens tech for an enhanced art gallery experience.