Selling books got a whole lot sexier this week as Barnes & Noble hosts a virtual Brooklyn Decker. It's all an augmented reality stunt for Esquire magazine, whose readers voted her the sexiest woman alive, prompting a February cover that is now on newsstands.
The model/actress is virtually appearing in 700 Barnes & Noble stores via GPS-enabled technology that allows iPhone users to have their picture taken with her virtual image. It's also a clever digital marketing coup for all concerned.
The promotion is cutting-edge, and fiendishly simple. Just download the free app (iPhone for now, Android in March) and point your smartphone within 50 yards of a B&N magazine section, and (voila!) Brooklyn appears. Fans can snap a picture with her virtual image, selecting one of several poses, and post on Facebook.
GoldRun, a New York-based agency, developed the app to target GPS zones up to 500 feet in diameter. Their promotions are site-specific, using geotagging to identify locations through latitude and longitude. GoldRun's simulated experience blends augmented reality's real-world and virtual elements.
Esquire has also partnered with GoldRun for a virtual scavenger hunt. The media brand is inviting fans to find the re-engineered Esquire logo in seven U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Turn on the GoldRun app to see if you’re in a hot zone, find and take a picture of the logo in question, and upload it for the chance to win prizes including an iPad — all the better to view the magazine's acclaimed iPad app, of course.
For Esquire, it's not just about the gee-whiz factor. “To my mind, it’s a really cool technology to make use of, but I hope the end result is that people buy the print magazine,” commented Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger to the New York Times.
For Barnes & Noble, it helps get feet in stores at a time when the brand is struggling to maintain traffic and sales.
And for Ms. Decker, it's also dandy timing, as she has a movie to promote — Just Go With It, co-starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler — and a husband to cheer on, with Andy Roddick playing in the Australian Open.