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Augmented Reality: the next big thing in brand advertisement?

Augmented Reality: the next big thing in brand advertisement?

Proposed bill restricting the advertisement of alcoholic beverages on television has passed parliament this February and alcoholic beverages and advertising agencies have been looking to creatively circumvent the law that has yet to take effect. The bill restricts any alcoholic beverage from broadcasting any commercials on television.

Some have looked into investing in indirectly integrating alcoholic products into TV shows, bypassing the law that bans commercials while others are considering doubling down on broadening digital and social media reach.

Berry Advertising, in collaboration with Jasmine Trading, is looking to augmented reality (AR) to overcome this hurdle.

Augmented reality is the layering of graphics and audio onto the real world in real time. The potentials of AR in gaming (evident in the highly popular AR based smartphone game Pokemon Go), medicine, the military, and many other sectors have been growing for several years. Few startups in Addis Ababa have already begun the race to monetize the technology that has been grossly underutilized. It is being used by different software designers independently looking into location-based services like using AR maps to navigate the city and especially in the tourism industry.

BeBlocky, a firm programming learning apps for kids is also harnessing the power of AR to engage kids and make the learning process fun. Founder of BeBlocky Nathan Damtew says their AR venture has been successful in creating an interactive game children love.

Advertising firms seem to be the institutions willing to risk capital on a new, at least to Ethiopia, and untested technology and invest, and the potential of AR in light of recent setbacks to the industry is growing.

MelakuBeharu, chief creative director of Berry Advertising says, “80 percent of the brands in the local market are managed unprofessionally, right now. Ad agencies are not just about talent, it is about vision.” And the vision is to bring experiential marketing to everyone’s mobile phone. An app designed by Jasmine shows a video commercial of products when hovered over a label, a billboard or any other visual marketing signage of the product. They are hoping to push this in the alcoholic beverage industry.

 “We’re using the brand as a communication material. We had to think creatively when the ban passed, and this is one of the things we came up with,” explains Melaku.

Jasmine is a new software and android system development company that has patented AR in Ethiopia, exclusively marketing the technology for the following 5 years. “AR is underutilized here. We are hoping to partner with the government to introduce AR technology in transport sector, in schools, museums, lottery … all these projects are ongoing,” says BisrategebrelTheodros, general manager of Jasmine Trading.

FikirYihunbelay, senior strategic planner at Berry Advertisement, goes on to explain that the prominence of traditional advertising must make way for the new wave. “This is the next generation of advertising. We are sowing tech in advertising and AR is at the forefront of digital communication. We are working with Jasmine to fulfill our vision. Brand marketing is really growing and tech is the next frontier.” He mentions how other African nations are competing to be leaders in the continental tech race. “There’s no reason we can’t compete regionally, continentally or globally. We just need a determined person.”

Melaku also mentions how local cultural or traditional elements have been adopted by western marketers and rebranded back to Ethiopia. He brings up how IKEA, a Swedish furniture company, has been marketing berchuma, traditional three-legged and small chair original to Ethiopia. He also brings up the contested patent of teff.

“Our potential is completely untapped,” says Bisrategebrel. We have to push this to the end. We are trying to grow tech. We have the resources in the country but we aren’t working enough.”