Panera Bread launched an augmented reality (AR) ad unit for mobile devices that lets customers rotate a menu item and share the content across Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
Given the AR experience utilizes OS-level frameworks in iOS and Android, it requires no app download, making it the first of its kind in the food space. This new technology allows a user to place Panera’s Mediterranean egg white breakfast wrap anywhere in front of them, enhanced by interactive buttons that animate in the menu item name, nutritional information and ingredients list.
Panera’s interactive ad unit is running exclusively on sports site Bleacher Report and can be reached by clicking on an ad. When visitors encounter the ad, they’re encouraged to, “Play with your food, open in AR below.” Unlike other brands utilizing AR ads, Panera gives users the option of sharing the AR banner assets across three different social media platforms.
Compared to an online menu, this kind of ad allows consumers to find information fast and help Panera push an overall category innovation, according to Panera VP of marketing, Scott Nelson. Nelson added that measurement of the ad’s success will be determined via shares and engagements. The company has plans to expand the ability to a variety of menu items.
Highlighting food transparency through AR technology could be Panera’s attempt at ameliorating the public backlash caused by a leaked video last month. The video, which was posted by a Panera employee to her personal TikTok account, showed her dipping a frozen pack of the chain’s white cheddar mac and cheese into hot water then removing it and emptying the bag’s contents into a bowl before serving. The clip received 950,000 likes on the app.
Earlier this year, Panera’s first foray into AR arose in conjunction with South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. There the company launched four Snapchat AR lenses that let users create “hacks” of Panera’s soup offerings, visually adding other menu items to customize their own.