Morton Salt AR: A Technical Success

The Morton Salt marketing team has always had a love for innovation and their recent AR campaign experiences were no exception. After giving a facelift to their packaging early last year, the company decided it was time to push the creative boundaries with their message delivery.

Enter scene: Next/Now.

We built Morton Salt two funky fresh WebAR applications: one featuring their new product line and the other featuring some forgotten foods with a call to action to help eliminate food waste. With a simple QR scan from your smartphone to the salt container or shelf talker, entire worlds will come to life around you as you gain tips, tricks, and recipes to reduce food waste.

Scan (or click) QR code to view final experience

A Friendly Face With A New Challenge

This wasn’t our first time working alongside Morton Salt. We collaborated with their team once before in 2015 with our award-winning 100th Anniversary activation. That said, the project framework was much different this time around. Given the state of the world in 2020, Morton was looking for a solution that could meet people in locations where they already existed instead of trying to draw the crowd themselves. 

This changed our content strategy significantly and is ultimately what led us to the use of augmented reality. AR activations come with several strengths in terms of mobility given that they reside on the user’s own smartphone. By taking the project one step further and using a WebAR kit, we capitalized on this strength by allowing users to interact with our experience without the use of an additional downloadable app. Instead, all it would take is a standard smartphone web browser and users could be transported to the fantastical worlds we built full of pop-culture references and creative food recipes.

With so many positives to the Web AR platform, it became a clear winner pretty early on. However, as the project continued to evolve and grow, the limitations of such a platform began to surface. In particular, when it came to Erase Food Waste AR, the final experience contained 9 completely unique, highly-complex 3D vignettes. While rendering such a scene on the latest and greatest smartphone may not be a problem, we had to severely limit our poly count in order to retain accessibility on phones that were 5 or even 6 years old. Not only that, but these vignettes were not still environments either. We needed to come up with a way to export the animations that didn’t involve flattening the shapes out of their 3d form.

Problem < Solution

Not to be discouraged by such a challenge, our team went to work. After extensive R&D and product testing, we were able to build out a final design that went above and beyond the current industry standard.

Scenes within each app were able to retain their full detail while keeping the poly count under 50. This allowed the apps to run with little to no lag on even on 6 year old phones. When it came to the 20+ animations throughout the apps, we used a brand new technique that allowed us to export the movements straight from the render software and into the AR experience without losing any of its 3D spacing. Motion rarely retains the same quality as a still-frame experience so the fact that this technique kept every detail was a huge achievement for our team. All of the salt containers and food characters kept their realism and felt very much like they belonged in the camera-captured worlds they appeared in through the AR lens.

Our “gamification” and UX workflow were important achievements in the final project as well. As more details were added to the scenes, maintaining a clear and concise user-action flow became vital to the success of the message delivery. Working alongside the Morton team throughout the entire process helped us to keep UX a priority and ensure neither party lost sight of the ultimate goal.

Success in Numbers

Overall, the Morton Salt AR projects have been highly successful, highly technical campaigns. The Lineup AR has had more than 15,000+ total pageviews since it’s launch on December 20th. Meanwhile, the Erase Food Waste AR– while still in its first week of release– has already hit over 1,000 total page views. Moreover, people aren’t just coming; they’re staying. The Lineup currently has an average view time of over a minute and a half meaning that viewers are truly engaged and invested in the experience.

This project was a good test for us to see how far we could push the boundaries and I think we succeeded in really making these apps everything that they could be. We have been getting a lot more AR requests now due to COVID, so being able to carry our new knowledge with us and have an even stronger course of action next time around is really exciting. There’s definitely more to come from us in this space.

Olivia Emerick, Project Producer

Both AR experiences can currently be found on the shelves of your local grocery store or by visiting the Erase Food Waste AR Site and will be available through to view now through July 2021.

Next/Now Agency

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