It's alive! HarperCollins augments reality

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HarperCollins launches a mobile app to bring young adult Gothic novel to life
HarperCollins launches a mobile app to bring young adult Gothic novel to life

The Offer: To bring to life the story of Canadian author Kenneth Oppel's new young adult novel “This Dark Endeavour” — a Gothic thriller about the early life of Victor Frankenstein — the Canadian arm of HarperCollins teamed with Toronto-based agency Dentsu to launch a mobile Quick Response code campaign that drove in-store activity and online engagement. After downloading the app, users were treated to an interactive augmented reality experience with an installation at Indigo, Chapters and Coles chain bookstores around Canada.

The Data: The novel's target audience is preteen and teenage girls, ages 12 to 17, a demographic well-known for being mobile savvy. After the app's release, the author saw a 25% rise in traffic to his website. Book sales increased by 45% compared to the week before the campaign's launch.

The Channel: The free app, available from the Android Market, utilizes marker-less marker technology, through which natural images can trigger animation. Posters in the stores contained instructions for how to download the app. Printed bookmarks directed those without smartphones to an associated website.

The Creative: The bookshelf installation aimed to recreate one of the core motifs in the book, that of the discovery of an ancient text in a secret library. Users scanned the shelf to find the hidden book, thereby unlocking information about the novel's plot and characters.

The Verdict:

Sarah Van Heirseele is VP of digital at Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide. She has previously done work for Procter & Gamble and BJ's Wholesale Club, among others. Prior to joining Blue Chip, Van Heirseele taught advertising creative strategy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Read our Q&A with Sarah for more.

HarperCollins has added a nice twist to augmented reality by removing traditional markers and using hidden ones. The exclusivity of the campaign gives participants a reason to engage with the brand, making it more interactive and fun for its target market of teenage girls. I think this was very well done — it's a scavenger hunt that I would like to join!

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