Sports & FitnessAugmented RealityGuest Post

Super Bowl LV Was a Win for Augmented Reality


What AR plays from Pepsi, Verizon, Facebook and Networks mean for your brand.


Alright marketers, brand strategists, and creatives–let’s huddle up. Another slate of Super Bowl campaigns just went out to millions of viewers on Sunday… only this year, things were different.

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, just 22,000 people were allowed inside Raymond James Stadium for this year’s Super Bowl, and those big household watch parties we’ve come to expect simply didn’t happen. As a result, some companies rethought (or even abandoned) their in-game Super Bowl LV ad campaigns.

…more NFL fans saw these Snapchat AR filters than the reported 99.9 million people who tuned into the big game.

The thing is, in today’s social/digital world, brands aren’t limited to running ads during a single event or in a single format since consumers can see and interact with them across the web and on social platforms.

And in a season of closed fields and tailgating events, NFL fans have relied on social media to connect with their teams and fellow fans for months now, forming new habits in the process.

Augmented Reality Scored Big in Super Bowl LIV

Last year, the NFL expanded its slate of social AR tools and effects to give fans immersive, engaging, and shareable AR experiences. According to Snapchat, augmented reality lenses and filters from NFL partners reached 45 million Snapchatters during Super Bowl weekend and garnered a total of 101 million impressions.

To put that into perspective, more NFL fans saw these Snapchat AR filters than the reported 99.9 million people who tuned into the big game.

Pepsi Continues the AR Marketing Trend at Super Bowl LV

This year saw Pepsi, the longtime sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, dropping its usual 30-second in-game ad and shifting budget instead to digital strategies–while making it clear that, these days, “digital” includes augmented reality.

Sure, Pepsi put out a national broadcast spot featuring The Weeknd–but, notably, the ad did not run during the game itself.

In a nod to the booming popularity of augmented reality, Pepsi featured a QR code on Super Bowl LV Halftime Show cans and packaging at retail locations nationwide, which lead consumers to Once there, fans could access exclusive artist and show videos, along with custom AR Instagram filters.

It’s a telling move and shows the extent to which AR has become a natural extension of broadcast ad campaigns.

Augmented Reality Super Bowl LV Pepsi
Image source: Pepsi

Verizon Drives Immersive 5G AR Super Bowl LV Experiences

Verizon showcased the power of AR through the NFL mobile app, which allowed fans both in the stadium and at home to access the “Verizon 5G SuperStadium” using an iPhone 12. Once there, they could view the game from seven camera angles (five if at home), and project augmented reality overlays of NFL’s Next Gen Stats for players, according to Verizon.

Augmented Reality Super Bowl LV Verizon
Image source: Verizon
See Also:  Verizon Media Adds AR Features to Its Native Ad Format

Facebook AR Filters Spark Fan Imagination

Facebook surprised the millions of people chatting about the game on its Messenger app with a new set of AR camera filters designed in partnership with the NFL. According to Facebook, fans could use the End Zone filter to “picture yourself as a wide receiver from the Bucs or Chiefs catching an 80-yard touchdown pass to win the whole thing,” and use the Fan filter to “transport yourself to Raymond James Stadium and give your team the support it needs to pull out the W.”

Augmented Reality Super Bowl LV Facebook
Image source: Facebook

Broadcast AR Surprises and Delights at Super Bowl LV 

Augmented Reality Super Bowl LV CBS

In addition to social AR, this year’s game highlighted advancements in broadcast AR. CBS Sports rendered AR graphics in real time using Unreal Engine and motion picture capture as the basis for a virtual production pipeline. Numerous AR-encoded cameras were placed throughout the stadium and glitzy broadcast AR graphics were displayed in between plays, which saw images crumble to sand in 3D.

Nickelodeon, however, seemed to have the most fun.

After finding success with its first AR-enabled NFL broadcast in January, Nickelodeon’s broadcast AR antics were back in full effect for Super Bowl LV.

Nickelodeon’s AR graphics surprised and delighted viewers, gave fans a unique reason to tune in on Nickelodeon versus another network, and endeared younger audiences to the NFL brand.

What This Means For You And Your Brand 

Consumers in 2021 carry technologies like 5G, LiDAR scanners, and photorealistic AR in their pockets every day and interact with AR regularly via social media. In fact, there are now billions of AR-enabled mobile smartphones on the market.

At the same time, gaming platforms like Unreal Engine are increasingly being used for broadcast commercial production, film, and live events, all of which can include augmented reality elements.

The technology and reach exist today to justify scaling your next marketing or ad campaign into the spatial realm. And demand has never been higher.

…every daily active user interacts with a Snap AR product (AR Lenses and filters) nearly 30 times a day on average.

On average, more than 75% of Snapchat’s 218 million daily users play with its AR lenses every single day. In fact, on a recent earnings call, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel noted that every daily active user interacts with a Snap AR product (AR Lenses and filters) nearly 30 times a day on average.

Augmented reality experiences at Super Bowl LV expanded AR’s reach to millions of new users, while reinforcing AR habits among existing users. As consumers continue to expect and embrace it, AR is gradually becoming ingrained in our everyday lives and will drastically change the way people engage with brands.

See Also:  Integration of AR Into Your B2B Marketing Strategy and Its Challenges

So while video chatting with coworkers about your favorite commercials and wondering how you ever thought it was a good idea to eat that entire plate of wings, take a minute to ponder how the broadcast AR and social AR being used in this year’s Super Bowl can be used to benefit your own brand.

Guest Post

About the Guest Author(s)

Matthew Donaruma
Matthew Donaruma
Content & Communications | Optic Sky Productions | + posts

Matthew Donaruma represents Optic Sky Productions, a full-pipeline broadcast commercial and social video production company combining technology, creativity, and process to advance the future of brand creative.