- "Michael Jackson Scream," a new release from Epic/Legacy Recordings and the pop icon's estate, includes 13 of his greatest hits and a bonus five-song mashup from remixer The White Panda and is being promoted through a "spooky" global augmented reality (AR) experience, per a press release. Producer and DJ Steve Aoki is putting out a standalone remix of Jackson's "Thriller" for streaming and download as well.
- The launch includes a collectible glow-in-the-dark vinyl LP and a poster that lets fans launch the AR experience via the album cover artwork and their smartphones.
- The AR component uses the Shazam app, marking the first time Shazam has combined the immersive mobile technology with a new music release as well as being its first global AR initiative. The full "Scream" campaign will include billboards and posters distributed in major global cities with a Shazam logo that launches a second AR experience based on the album's cover artwork.
Any new release from Michael Jackson's estate is going to be news, especially with remixes from Steve Aoki and The White Panda providing some new music just in time for Halloween. But the partnership with Shazam on more than one AR activation is interesting. While marketers remain interested in how the virtual reality can be tapped for brand storytelling, VR often requires more complex hardware and processing power to activate that hampers wide-scale marketing campaigns.
At the least for the short term, AR will be more popular, and efforts like Pokemon Go have laid out a blueprint for how marketers can use the technology to bridge the digital and real worlds together through existing smartphone capabilities. This gives brands and app developers a range of opportunity to bring unique virtual experiences directly to audiences on the devices where they're spending more and more of their time. As AR's popularity ramps up, competition between major platforms is getting stiffer as well.
Shazam, which has pushed well past its early uses of identifying songs and has now been downloaded more than 1 billion times, first introduced AR earlier this year in response to advertisers' requests for scalable AR experiences. Snapchat, an early player with consumer AR, just last week opened 3-D AR World Lenses for brands, with Bud Light and the new "Blade Runner 2049" film running the first campaigns. Apple has expectations for AR, which arrived last month on iOS with its latest update, quickly being embraced by brands like Ikea and Patron. Google is also working on making AR more accessible via its new ARCore platform.