VR, AR and voice tech drive innovation highlights at Super Bowl LII

Pepsi and Google's VR experience

Pepsi and Google’s VR experience

At last night’s Super Bowl LII game, varying innovative marketing approaches took place as ways to grab consumer attention and drive engagement amid a flurry of brand noise.

While the traditional $5 million TV spot still reigned supreme, there were also numerous experiments with tech including virtual and augmented reality, as well as Amazon’s Alexa grabbing attention.

First up was Pepsi with a pop-up VR experience stationed near to the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Created in partnership with Google, the setup invited visitors into an immersive Pepsi world inspired by the Back to the Future film series. As users travel through time, they see different Pepsi ad references of the past as they go – including Cindy Crawford’s 1991 spot, which she has remade for 2018.

Mike Yapp, chief creative director of Google Zoo, said the aim was to tap into “sense perception”, by immersing people in the nostalgia. “If what we’re talking about here is going back and seeing what these were about and remembering what Pepsi means to your life then, we thought one of the best experiences you can do digitally is through VR,” he explained to AdWeek.

Fans at home could also view the experience with their own VR headset or through a web-based VR microsite.

AR also had its place at the game, with StubHub using it to help sell tickets to the stadium, and gaming company Virtex Arena, inviting smartphone users to participate in AR games from their sears. The latter saw a mobile app placing virtual objects and characters onto the football field, with users competing to kick and pass balls between the receivers by flicking them on their screens, in between actual play.

Mercedes-Benz meanwhile was giving away a sports car to whoever could track a virtual car around on their phone for the longest during the game.

When it came to the play itself, Amazon took on the role of fortune-teller with its voice assistant, Alexa, firmly declaring she was an Eagles fan in advance. The AI-enabled device was also front and center for the retailer’s commercial spot this year. Featuring a cameo from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the storyline focuses on what happens when Alexa loses her voice. Cue celeb appearances from the likes of Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.