n October 24th, 2022, fans watching Monday Night Football were treated to an augmented reality event promoting a product, the first of its kind.
The event was put on by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) to promote the Gillette Labs Exfoliating Bar. Why Gillette Labs, specifically? Because the NFL game in question was played between the Patriots and the Bears on the Patriots’ home turf, Gillette Stadium. Makes sense, right?
The beginning of the 45 seconds-long virtual campaign shows the mascot for the Patriots team, Pat the Patriot, striding into the locker room. Once inside, he flips a switch that says “Gillette,” changing it to “Gillette Labs.”
The scene changes to the inside of the Gillette Stadium, where the famous lighthouse shines a beam of light on the Patriots logo on the 50-yard line. The logo turns over and becomes a silver-colored base, upon which different shapes come together to form an image of the Exfoliating Bar razor.
While razors aren’t necessarily that exciting - no matter what cool tricks you use to market them - there’s no denying that the use of augmented reality in an advertising campaign before an NFL game is pretty ground-breaking. No company has held such a large virtual event to promote a retail product before, and P&G pulled out all the stops to make sure theirs was truly special.
The first step to making it special was hiring the Famous Group. According to their website, this California-based video production company is in the business of producing virtual fan experiences for large-scale events and venues.
This isn’t their first project with an NFL team. In 2021 they created a realistic virtual panther that stomped and roared its way around the Carolina Panthers’ stadium. Their video premiered online during a football game on September 12th, 2021, and went viral, gaining one million impressions by halftime.
To build a frame of reference for the augmented reality portions of the Gillette Labs ad, the Famous Group used two cameras equipped with tracking technology to perform a laser scan on the Gillette Stadium. The stadium is currently undergoing renovations, but they were able to fill in the gaps -including the landmark lighthouse, which is also under construction - using AR.
Of course, the campaign was visible only to the fans who were watching the pre-game from home. The fans who attended the game in person saw nothing but Gillette Stadium as it is in real life - still under construction. There were no giant razors being pieced together “like a Transformer,” as the Famous Group vice president for business development, Andrew Isaacson described it to USA TODAY Sports.
What makes this campaign even more remarkable is that it was shown to a national audience. This was a point of pride for Gillette, according to the razor brand’s vice president of North American grooming, John Claughton. He told USA TODAY Sports that he hoped fans watching would find the campaign “innovative and pioneering.”
We’re sure he hopes that more people will buy Gillette’s new razor, as well. As for us, we were impressed by the augmented reality on display on Monday Night Football, as it bodes well for more “innovative and pioneering” campaigns in the future.