Snap launches platform-agnostic AR studio for brands and agencies, Arcadia

Move could see the company creating content for rival social media platforms.

Snapchat owner Snap is aiming to “reinforce [its] global leadership positioning in AR” and “elevate the overall AR ecosystem” with the launch of a global creative studio for branded augmented reality, Arcadia.

The operation – which is no relation to the defunct Philip Green-owned retail empire of the same name – will function as a division of Snap Inc. and will be platform-agnostic. 

That means it could plausibly work on projects that sit on rival social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok – as well as the web and other apps, such as those owned by brands.

Snap said Arcadia would have a studio model and will “take on select projects that require the most creative and technical skillset”. It will work on behalf of both brands and their agency partners and will seek both clients of record and “additional opportunistic projects that align with the mission of the studio” – as well as providing AR strategy guidance for clients to improve their own capabilities through workshops, insights and trend reporting.

A spokesperson added that it was not intended to compete with agencies. Last month, in fact, Snap partnered with WPP to launch The AR Lab, a joint offering aimed at WPP's clients.

Jeff Miller, global head of creative strategy at Snap, said: “Arcadia delivers a compelling solution for brands and agencies who understand the immediate value of developing world-class AR experiences, rooted in craft, technology and customer experience. 

“With the launch of Arcadia, Snap Inc. is further investing in an AR ecosystem, backed by partners, creators and tools, that drives full-funnel results for businesses across the globe.”

Snap has announced P&G Beauty, Verizon, wrestling company WWE and US fast food chain Shake Shack as launch clients of Arcadia. For Shake Shack, Arcadia created an AR experience at the brand’s restaurant in Hudson Yards, Manhattan, to coincide with Advertising Week New York.

Benjamin Spiegel, chief digital officer at P&G Beauty, said: “Working with Arcadia has given us a one-stop-shop that is deeply connected to the ecosystem, with access to all the right details needed for compelling AR. They simplify the level of complexity in the AR marketplace to make it tangible for brands, in a really natural way.”

Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer at WWE, commented: “Our goal is to always over-deliver for our fans and augmented reality adds a fun and deeper layer to their experience. From cities all over the globe to screens of any size, WWE creates real-life superheroes and AR enables anything to come to life around them. By working with Arcadia, we are limited only by our imaginations.”

Snap said that in the first quarter of 2021, users engaging daily with AR on Snapchat grew by 40% year on year. When it comes to shopping – one of the key uses of the technology for brands – it pointed to a recent AR beta program with 30 brands in sectors ranging from beauty to auto, in which users who “tried on” a product were 2.4 times more likely to purchase than average.

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