Disney brings true friendships to life – Marketing with Augmented Reality

Published: May 21, 2023

min read

As part of its Disney100 celebration, Disney has launched a fabulous exhibition called Wonder of Friendship: The Experience. This is a pop-up exhibition with interactive areas built with themes from classic Disney films and character friendships.

This Disney Wonder of Friendship experience has four areas themed after movies like Alice in Wonderland and Lilo & Stitch. This experience has physical and tangible things that visitors can engage with and some augmented reality elements as well. Disney has partnered with Snapchat’s Arcadia creative studio for the AR elements.

In order to unlock the augmented reality elements in The Experience, visitors must scan QR codes on their smartphones in each room. There is the Orchestral Oasis area, for example – which is a room that has been inspired by The Lion King. Through AR, it is possible to have a Lion King mask and face paint put on the visitor’s on-screen appearance. In another instance, Stitch seems to appear next to the user on their screen! The Augmented Reality experiences are different depending on the room the visitors are in.

At Disney, we’re always listening to our audiences, and research and insights showed that young adults want immersive experiences in real life that they can share with friends to create magical and lasting memories.

Nigel Cook,

VP of brand commercialization and retail at Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing EMEA, as quoted in Adweek

To create the magical experience that is friendship, Disney picked stories that really embodied friendship – like those comedic duos of Lilo & Stitch, Timon and Pumbaa, and the classic characters Mickey and Minnie.

Givenchy, Pandora and the British retailer Primark are other partners activating around Disney’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Wonder of Friendship: The Experience is on in London through May 21. It will be in Berlin June 9-18 and Paris June 30-July 9.

AR and Marketing

We all know that marketing is driven by the needs and desires of customers. Or at least, they should be. And with the rapid changes in technology, customers expect brands and marketers to keep up with it.

Artificial Intelligence is all the rage lending itself to various uses in the many aspects of marketing. Metaverse with its wearables and avatars and alternate worlds does its magic in other ways.

Augmented Reality is something that marketers can include in their strategy if it so matches the substance and the intent of the campaign. It is one more tool in a marketer’s belt helping to drive sales and enhancing brand value through unique experiences that customers can experience through their mobile devices.

It adds that extra oomph to a physical event, adding a digital layer to an event and giving it a phygital twist.

It is a perfect way to create a buzz around the brand – like what Disney is doing. The whole exercise is to create an experience that is close to what Disney’s movies, offer. So when a QR code is scanned on a phone, it is as if Stitch was right next to the visitor. It makes the brand come alive. There is a fun, novel and a completely unexpected experience that is added to the whole event which appeals to and simply captivated the younger audiences.

It is a great way for Fashion houses to let customers try out their merchandise without actually doing it physically. Several brands have already started doing this. Coach and Timberland … TopShop… to name a couple. Various cosmetic brands are also going down this route.

In a highly competitive topography, Augmented Reality might just be the differentiator to set a brand apart from its competition!


Pete Johnson

Pete is a MarTech expert guru with a knack for getting diverse MarTech solutions work for brands. He has a wealth of experience in working with a plethora of MarTech platforms that dive Personalized Omnichannel Experiences. When he's not at work, you can find him playing basketball or listening to jazz.


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