- USAA, the financial services company for military members and their families, this week is introducing its first augmented reality (AR) lens on photo-messaging app Snapchat as part of its annual Memorial Day event. The AR experience will let people honor fallen military heroes virtually as the coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation of traditional parades and gatherings, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- USAA created a digital version of its Poppy Wall of Honor — an exhibit the company first brought to the National Mall in Washington, DC two years ago — that lets Snapchat users dedicate a poppy flower to a fallen loved one. The poppy is a remembrance symbol inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae.
- The company also is urging military supporters to share on social what Memorial Day means to them and use the #HonorThroughAction hashtag. USAA created a website, PoppyInMemory.com, to pay tribute to the more than 645,000 military service members who were killed in battle, the announcement said.
USAA's AR content and website maintain the company's annual observance of Memorial Day as a digital-only exhibit, another sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the experiential marketing space. The company cited research that says just over half of Americans understand the meaning of Memorial Day as an observance of military members who were killed in battle, not a salute to all veterans. By transforming its Poppy Wall of Honor into an AR lens on Snapchat, the company can educate younger audiences about Memorial Day while helping them to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives.
Like other AR tools on Snapchat, USAA's lens features two modes that work separately with front- and rear-facing cameras on smartphones. The front-facing selfie mode shows flowers blooming from the Poppy Wall of Honor, transforming into a single poppy that a Snapchat user can place virtually on their lapel. The rear-facing world mode shows a digital recreation of the exhibit, which can be tapped to dedicate poppies to fallen loved ones, Adweek reported.
USAA is among the companies that have revamped their experiential activations during the pandemic. Mastercard this week brought its "Priceless experiences" to the digital world by offering online experiences to cardholders. Home-sharing startup Airbnb this week teamed with dating app Bumble on a campaign to provide virtual first dates to folks stuck in quarantine, a departure from its experiential efforts to bring people together in person.
By creating content for Snapchat, USAA can reach people who can't travel widely during pandemic lockdowns, while engaging a younger audience. Almost three quarters (72%) of Gen Zers who use Snapchat weren't reached by TV, per data cited by Snapchat, which has 229 million daily active users, including 88 million in North America. Parent company Snap says the app reaches 75% of 13- to 34-year-olds nationwide, while more than 75% of users engage with its AR content every day. That engagement increases the likelihood that USAA's digital exhibit for Memorial Day will extend its reach.