The car calendar without the car

Augmented reality (AR) is something that most Gen-yers have seen or experienced in the last six to twelve months in some form or another. Perhaps it was John Mayer’s microsite for Heartbreak Warfare or the Coraline display in New York City, or maybe Robert Downey Jr popping up online in Esquire magazine. Whichever of the growing number of examples you saw, these and many other marketing campaigns are finding a variety of ways to integrate AR technology into products, online sites, and other marketing applications. And, as the marketing dollars increase, the opportunities to explore products and experiences with AR technology are also increasing.

To give you a quick background on the technology, Wikipedia defines AR as:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.

And, an enhanced reality is apparently the type of reality we’re seeking now, according to Sarah Newton, blogger at the Gen-Y Guide, who says, “Not only does this generation thrive on finding ways to make life fun, it is bent on merging all parts of its life: personal and professional, multiple friendship groups, and its online and offline worlds”.

Truthfully, I’ve seen a good number of examples of this technology – both great and not so great – but I’m most excited for the evolution of the concept; for the examples that integrate the technology into a form of user experience that is truly like no other.

Enter Audi’s new car calendar.

The catch?

It doesn’t feature any cars. Not yet, anyway.

The car calendar has always been a go-to item for auto brands as a way to get their core demographic – young, male autophiles – focused on the latest and greatest car models. However, Audi has completely taken the regular calendar to a new level with the integration of Augmented Reality.

Break out the smartphones, folks, because that’s the secret in envisioning the amazing cars that Audi is profiling in the calendar. The images come alive with sound and motion; arguably more interesting and engaging than a static image on paper could ever be.

Plus, this interactive element becomes something unique for the holder of the calendar, a talking point for others, and a great representation of brand extension through an experience that engages the audience that will become customers in a few short years.

I think that Gen Y will embrace this marketing effort not just for the technology it employs, but for the unique product interaction it creates, therefore allowing Gen Y to experience the Audi brand on a level that is unique, new, fresh, and, pretty damn cool.

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