Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Chuck E. Cheese drives foot traffic to locations with interactive augmented reality app

The “Chuck E.’s Say Cheese” app combines digital motion and sensory-driven augmented reality technology. The app was concepted by The Richards Group and developed by Total Immersion software, Reel FX and a digital strategy team at The Richards Group.

“One of the key things that differentiates Chuck E. Cheese’s from other family entertainment options is interaction with Chuck E. himself,” said Scott McDaniel, chief marketing officer of CEC Entertainment, Inc., Irving, TX.

“After introducing a contemporized mascot last July, Chuck E. Cheese’s has been working on amplifying ways that families can uniquely interact with him as part of the brand’s memorable experience,” he said. “Guests are increasingly interacting with the family entertainment leader through technology, and the company is enhancing that capability in all of its stores with the introduction of a new, free augmented reality app for iOS and Android devices that allows them to be a part of Chuck E.’s performance like never before.

“The app uses AR technology to enable parents and kids to take fun photos with three animated versions of Chuck E. by interacting with various markers placed on tabletops, games and other backdrops throughout a store.”

CEC Entertainment Inc. is Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company.

How it works
The app works via multiple Say Cheese markers found throughout each Chuck E. Cheese location.

When users launch the app, in-store markers activate an augmented reality camera, and when the camera is directed at the Say Cheese markers, Chuck E. himself appears and poses alongside guests.

Consumers can also post the images to Facebook or Twitter or share them via email.

Furthermore, users can submit their photos to the company’s site,

The Richards Group has been the agency of record for CEC Entertainment since January 2012. In addition to the “Say Cheese!” app, the restaurant recently launched a new digital creative campaign titled “Message From Our Founder.”

“Just like many of today’s modern consumers, we know our guests are very mobile,” Mr. McDaniel said. “From their feedback, we also know they love sharing their memories and photos with their families, friends and even with us.

“Whether reaching out to us on our Facebook or Twitter pages, emailing us pictures of their most recent trip or checking into our locations on foursquare, mobile has played a big role in how we communicate with our guests and fans,” he said.

Word out
Chuck E. Cheese is getting the word out about its promotion through a variety of ways, including television and online advertisements, traditional news and media outreach as well as social media engagement and blogger relations.

The company is also running a special sweepstakes and contest around the app on Chuck E. Cheese’s official social media profiles.

Additionally, in-store promotion markers will be used to educate guests about the new app.

“Unlike traditional communications programs, Chuck E. Cheese’s social marketing strategy is predicated on two-way dialogue between the company and its customers,” Mr. McDaniel said. “While Chuck E. Cheese’s  has the opportunity to present its messages, customers also have the ability to communicate back with the brand – which is important for fostering a positive environment to respond to customer compliments and concerns.

“As more consumers migrate to social networks, more increasingly through mobile devices, the Chuck E. Cheese’s brand has built deeper engagement and loyalty with customers while driving additional traffic to the restaurants,” he said.

“Additionally, social media has also been an ideal avenue for testing new offers and gaining feedback on new promotions and incentives from fans and followers in the digital sphere.”

The overall strategy of the campaign was to raise top-of-mind awareness of Chuck E. Cheese’s as an entertainment option for parents and their kids.

“We started by taking into consideration the following insights: Chuck E. Cheese’s has a great base of loyal, heavy users that come to the stores several times a month for kids entertainment,” said Kristina Jonathan, digital strategist at The Richards Group. “These customers are taking pictures of their kids having a great time, and we found that this is a top activity in social media relating to the brand – posting pictures of their children enjoying hours of fun inside our stores.

“The ability for kids to get their picture taken with Chuck E., find the different markers, and see him move and dance is great fun for kids,” she said. “It’s like the new ride at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“Our brand is kids-centric, centered on character. Augmented reality allows the character to come to life in a magical and unexpected way. It allows an actual, unique interaction and bonding moment between kids and the character while in store.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York