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Ch-ch-check this out, old media is embracing new media in the latest edition of Esquire with Robert Downey Jr. coming to life using Augmented Reality (AR).

Readers will be able to hold the US edition in front of a webcam and the on-screen image of the magazine become alive with letter flying off the cover and Robert Downey Jr. emerging out of the page in 3D.

The animation is triggered by the box between Downey’s legs (no laughing please) which looks like a QR code but is way cooler.

Inside the magazine there are a further six AR boxes, each activating a different interactive video feature. Sections such as men’s fashion are transformed on screen with the models changing clothing ranges depending on how the page is tilted.

Even the regular feature called ‘Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman’ gets the AG treatment with actress Gillian Jacobs taking part. Bring back the magazine to your webcam after midnight and Gillian tells you a ‘dirty’ joke, which is too rude for daytime audiences.

Looking at the front page it also looks like there is some education for the reader about what Augmented Reality is and how to use it. I wonder how many users will think this is just another QR code thingy?

It reminds me a bit of when The Sun did that QR code ‘Special’ pull out to teach van drivers what to do when they saw the little black and white squares. They went for a similar approach by using Keeley Hazel, just with slightly less clothing than Robert Downey Jr.



The kind of AR enabled magazine isn’t easy or cheap to produce, so advertising support is essential, which is why two of the AR markers in the magazine trigger on-screen ads for Lexus. It sounds like their involvement is key as Editor David Granger admitted the issue cost more than usual to put together.

Esquire ad sales has dropped by 26% compared to 2008 so it’s no wonder they are trying new things to retain advertisers.

Other magazines such as Entertainment Weekly have also tried integrating digital features like embedding actually videos into the pages. Click here to see.

[Via U Talk Marketing]

  • David Boddington

    At the moment, I can’t help feeling that AR (mobile or otherwise) is a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes. It looks great and has a cool factor but what else does it deliver?

    It needs a raison d’être, a purpose, to take it to the next level and make it a meaningful mechanic that will be used once the novelty has worn off.

    What if the image that AR ‘keyed’ off was a logo or other everyday item? What if it was also GPS capable, so the ‘reality’ depended on where you were? And then what if it had a meaningful CTA.

    Now that would be cool.


    • Murat

      Well Dave my little chum, you can actually use AR by just using your location. For example lets say you were walking down Oxford Street, the buildings and shops you see through the camera could easily be replaced by ones from 100 years ago. The buildings are static and have long and lat coordinates just like in Google Maps. Here’s a ooold example but you catch my drift.

      Everyday items can also be used, check out this $1 bill turning into different Burger King items.

      It has lots of uses to support campaigns too, like offers around stores, making billboards come to life or things like treasure hunts etc.

      Remember it’s early days for AG but I don’t remember QR codes hitting the front of any mainstream magazines so quickly. Also times have changed since QR codes inception, we now have iPhones and Android out there so experiences will be better than clunky java apps.

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  • David Boddington

    I agree that AR certainly seems to have gained more traction than QR ever has.

    I can certinaly see the benefit (particularly as the quality of image/content improves) for informational services like education, libraries, museams etc. but I still haven’t seen the “killer” use for a brand that drives ROI and makes it more than a good PR release.


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