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Kate Bertrand Connolly
August 25, 2023
5 Min Read
Seattle-based Jones Soda Co. — known for the personalized, consumer-designed artwork on its labels — has upped its augmented reality (AR) game. The company has upgraded from app-based AR to mobile-AR technology to give consumers an even better interactive AR experience through its soda labels.
The new technology is a notable advancement for Jones’ two-year-old AR-labels program, REEL Labels. With the new tech, consumers no longer need to download the Jones Soda app to access AR videos on Jones’ labels. Thus, they save time, as well as space on their phones, and also enjoy a more fluid AR experience.
Powering the new Jones Soda AR packaging is a custom mobile-AR platform developed by creative agency August Allen. “Some of our older app-based AR is still out in the market, but we made the transition to mobile AR, with August Allen’s help, in April of 2023,” says Curt Thompson, director of marketing at Jones Soda.
To bring one of Jones’ new mobile-AR packages to life, consumers scan an AR QR code printed on the label and then point their phone at the front of the label. Viewed through phone, the label becomes a miniature screen for an AR video. The rest of the bottle and surroundings look the same as usual.
Mobile AR gives consumers a faster, more seamless experience than app-based AR and enables the company to take AR beyond labels, into media campaigns, merchandise, and the point of sale. Jones Soda can create, manage, and change AR projects and campaigns in-house using the administrative dashboard on its new, proprietary AR platform.
AR has superseded the brand’s other engagement channels, the company reports.
When introduced in 2021, Jones Soda’s AR labels opened the door to consumer-generated videos, offering fans a new way to share personal stories and celebrate the Jones community. AR has superseded the brand’s other engagement channels, the company reports.
Based on the mobile-AR program’s success with Jones Soda labels, the company plans to add its Mary Jones cannabis-infused-soda labels to the program
To learn more about the company’s mobile-AR initiative, we asked Thompson a few questions. Read our exclusive Q&A for the inside story.
Will consumers be submitting their own videos through the new AR platform, carrying forward Jones’ personalized-label theme?
Thompson: The Jones team is currently testing this concept. With our platform, it is possible for Jones consumers to submit their own video; however, it does take some work from the Jones team to format and configure the video to be label-ready. We are currently testing user-submitted video for large runs of personalized MyJones orders, with the hope that we can include it on single-case orders within a few months.
How does this new AR technology help Jones Soda celebrate its community?
Thompson: Jones has always offered up our labels to allow our consumers to showcase their vision of the world. This expression has taken the form of artful photography, skateboarding photos, macro photography, humorous candids, travel photography, and pet pictures — lots of pet pictures.
Jones often themes label releases to showcase different lenses of the world. For example, this past June, we offered artists in our Pride community to tell the story of their Pride journey and art on our labels, and this fall we’re celebrating the work of high-school photographers.
How has AR superseded other engagement channels for Jones? Can you quantify?
Thompson: Our AR is still in its early stages, but we have great engagement when people celebrated in AR have a story to tell. In the case of a person featured from our action-sports community, the AR content turned into several stories in TV media, which resulted in online conversations, which resulted in more media coverage.
When will the Mary Jones brand follow suit with the new AR labels?
Thompson: We are in development of this program now and working through the specifics of individual states’ restrictions and limitations on packaging.
Is AR replacing Jones’ familiar customer-personalized labels?
Thompson: AR will be supplemental to our personalized labels and will be included wherever it makes sense from a storytelling or brand point of view.
How does the new AR packaging initiative fit with Jones Soda’s existing REEL Labels program?
Thompson: The new AR program is also branded as REEL Labels. To avoid confusion, we are maintaining the old REEL Label application so that consumers can always return to a bottle they may have collected over the years and watch the AR content. But yes, our current technology is much more responsive and easy to use than our old technology and has already superseded the application-based AR.
Are the new AR labels on store shelves now?
Thompson: Yes, they are on shelves now, designated by on-the-bottle packaging. They rolled out in April of 2023, with the first themes being User-Submitted Content and Pride.
What other campaigns or media with the new AR technology does Jones have in market now?
Thompson: In addition to AR technology on the bottles themselves, we’ve run a few other formats and are testing more. To be specific, supplemental to the Pride labels telling eight different stories on each bottle variant, Jones built a poster for consumers and Pride events that featured a compilation video that showed content from all of our Pride artists together.
Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.
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