Aquarium makes Brilliant use of Augmented Reality for Mobile Marketing

How a Tokyo aquarium’s Augmented Reality penguins increased its visitor footfall by over 100%

One of the most fascinating mobile marketing campaigns of recent times has been the Penguin Navi campaign by the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo. The augmented reality campaign, created by HAKUHODO Tokyo, won a bronze lion in Best User Experience category at the recent Cannes Lion festival.

The challenge, as presented by the mobile marketing campaign, was getting visitors to come to the 35 year old aquarium in Tokyo. The Sunshine Aquarium, which had once been a popular destination, had fallen off the radar in recent years. In a metropolis as busy and bustling as Tokyo is, this is not surprising. The aquarium found itself combating for the attention of people with various other distractions. The problem was made worse by the fact that the Sunshine Aquarium is situated in a particularly densely populated section of the Japanese capital and is at quite some distance from the nearest metro station.

This is a problem faced by many attractions in busy cities across the world: they have to compete for the attention of time-starved citizens and increasingly, these days, traditional methods of marketing and advertising are going unheeded.  What makes Sunshine Aquarium’s problem unique is actually the solution that they found for it. They decided to use the penguins, considered the ‘cutest’ inhabitants of the aquarium, to entice people into visiting.

The aquarium launched an app that used an augmented reality GPS system featuring penguins that would lead visitors to the museum. The GPS penguins were made to walk like the real birds, thanks to motion capture technology. Any user of the app would simply have to follow the penguin all the way to the aquarium.

This augmented reality campaign is clever in how it understand human behavior and uses it to its advantage. Few people would fail to be entranced by penguins that seemed to waddle their way to the aquarium.  This is particularly true of children and adults with children. As the campaign declares, “It’s so entertaining that all other distractions go unnoticed.”

The results show that the augmented reality penguins worked exactly the way the aquarium hoped they would. After the launch of this mobile marketing campaign, the attendance at the Sunshine Aquarium increased by 152%. The people who downloaded the app spent about 9 minutes on an average playing with it. The aquarium also reports that more than 32% of the users opened the app more than 7 times and 93% recommended it to others.

Watch how the Penguin Navi app works in the video below. And if you feel like following those penguins all the way to Sunshine Aquarium, Tokyo, you know it works.