- White Castle is partnering with Coca-Cola to celebrate the burger chain's 100th birthday with a set of collectible cups that come to life via augmented reality (AR). Customers who visit a special microsite in a mobile browser can scan the comic book artwork on the cups with a smartphone camera to see the AR content, per an announcement.
- The restaurant chain hired artist Bryan Moss, who is based in the company's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, to create the artwork for the cups, which tell the history of White Castle through three eras. Moss also designed and installed a large mural in White Castle's headquarters that includes panels from the collectible cups.
- White Castle joins the growing number of brands that have created AR content to engage younger customers on their smartphones. AR content is a way to offer an immersive, branded experience to consumers while also being mindful of social distancing measures during the pandemic.
White Castle's AR-activated cups help to tell a more complete brand story amid the burger chain's celebrations of its 100th birthday, which officially was on March 10. While quick-service chains for years have offered collectible cups with movie tie-ins and other promotions, AR technology can help to transform that packaging into more immersive experiences that prolong brand exposure. White Castle also seeks to support the work of local artists such as Bryan Moss, a gesture that shows the company's mindfulness toward its local community. The effort can foster goodwill among younger consumers who gravitate toward brands that demonstrate authenticity with positive actions.
The QSR is among the brands that have sought to appeal to tech-savvy customers through packaging that's integrated with AR experiences. Yum Brands' Pizza Hut this week started delivering pizza in limited-edition boxes with QR codes customers can scan to start playing an AR version of the classic video game Pac-Man. The promotion is part of its bigger "Newstalgia" effort to put a modern spin on its traditional branding. Similarly, pizza chain Papa John's has tried a similar tack in its AR activations in photo-messaging app Snapchat to let people order pizza directly.
White Castle recently has run campaigns to differentiate its brand from other QSR rivals. With many people seeking reminders of happier days, White Castle last month revamped its long-running Valentine's Day event that lets people book a reservation for a fancy dinner. Because of restrictions on indoor dining during the pandemic, the chain transformed hundreds of locations into drive-in diners with carhop service. The burger chain in November enlisted rapper Coolio to show how to make turkey stuffing with its signature sliders, and ran an influencer campaign for Friendsgiving celebrations. As part of a broader effort to support loyalty, White Castle in last year launched its first systemwide rewards program to offer discounts on food and other promotions.