Macy’s ‘Believe-O-Magic’ AR App Brings ‘Yes, Virginia’ Characters to Life

Macy's Believe O' Magic Augmented Reality AppWith the holiday shopping season lurking just around the corner, Macy’s has released the ‘Believe-o-Magic’ mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The app uses augmented reality marker technology at special ‘Believe Stations’ within Macy’s stores nationwide to bring the characters from the animated movie ‘Yes, Virginia‘ to life. The app can then be used to capture a picture of the character and your child to create a customized holiday card that can be sent to family and friends directly from the app.

For those not able to visit a Macy’s store, a marker can be printed from the ‘Million Reasons to Believe’ website that provides a sneak preview of the in-store augmented reality experience.

The ‘Believe-O-Magic’ app can be downloaded free for the iPhone or iPad at the iTunes app store or at the Android Market.

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Randy MathesonI am a Nova Scotia raised Creative Guy, currently Director of Emerging Media at Delvinia, a Digital Strategy & Customer Experience Design Firm in Toronto. I’m a huge fan of the creative use of digital technologies in social media, marketing, sports and entertainment. I use this blog to share the more interesting examples that I find. If you’re in need of a break, join me over at for a cocktail.

Macy’s Reaches Out to Facebook Fans For Elf Makeover

Macy's Elf AdventureWith the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade a few months away, the department store is asking for its customers help in sprucing up the look of one of the giant elf-balloon featured in the parade. They’ve hidden 10,000 plain, undecorated elves at Macy’s stores across the US.

Clues to the location of elves are posted daily on Macy’s Facebook page or Twitter account. Customers must then figure out the clue and find a sales associate and reveal the secret word to get their elf. The customer can choose to receive the clues by text if they prefer.

Once the elves are decorated, customers can submit a picture of their elf along with its unique ID number. The voting will take place between August 30 and September 8. The winner gets a trip for four to NYC for the Thanksgiving parade where they’ll see their design transformed into a giant elf balloon just in time for the parade.

The Macy’s Day Parade began in 1924 and is broadcast to 44 million people each year.

Macy’s Uses QR Codes to Promote Backstage Pass to Spring Style Tips

Macy's QR CodesThe adoption of 2D barcodes over the past year has been steadily increasing. What was once considered an oddity (at least in North America) when we first used one back in 2008 is now being used by more small businesses and mainstream retailers each and every month. We are commonly seeing the 2D barcodes on everything from business cards, sales receipts, product signage and transit ads.

Recently Macy’s introduced QR Codes as part of their Backstage Pass campaign. Shoppers can scan the code or use SMS to access the 30-second videos featuring style tips and fashion advice from Macy’s team of spokespeople including Bobbi Brown, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Tommy Hilfiger.

Martine Reardron, Macy’s executive VP of Marketing said:

“Macy’s new Backstage Pass is an exciting evolution that brings our stable of fashion experts and designers directly to the customer while they’re shopping in our store, through their hand-held mobile devices. By providing fun and informative video features via an easy-to-use, direct-to-consumer platform, we are connecting and engaging our customer in a personal way that enhances and adds a new element to their shopping experience.”

To help explain how to use the QR codes Macy’s created a demonstration video “How to Use Macy’s Backstage Pass” (above), making it available to customers who text “learn” to MACYS (62297) or on the Find Your Magic sitelet, Facebook page or YouTube Channel. Macy’s sales associates will wear Backstage Pass lanyards with instructions on how to use the QR codes. Customers can download a free QR code reader application by texting “reader” to MACYS (62297).

Macy’s and Mobile Technologies

This is not the first time that Macy’s has embraced emerging mobile technologies. It first used 2D codes in magazine ads in 2010 was is of the first national retailers to use Shopkick, a mobile application and platform that allows users to earn points for checking in at stores to receive special offers.

QR Codes a Passing Fad?

QR Codes are not simply a passing fad as seen in the answers to my question posted on Quora. As GPS and image recognition technologies advance and customers become more comfortable with the check-in, I think we will look back at QR codes as merely the critical first step in connecting real world locations to online content including loyalty programs, deals and value-added content.