• Digital Immersive Science

12 Arnd Hutmacher, Head of Digital & Brand PR at Nestlé Wagner about AR for Pizza and VR as a niche

Arnd Hutmacher, Head of Digital & Brand PR at Nestlé Wagner, brought the world's major metropolitan cities into the supermarkets' freezer counters, but also into consumers' homes. The campaign is one of the first in the consumer goods sector to reach such a broad audience with AR. Arnd Hutmacher describes the process from idea to implementation. The application of a new technology in a large group like Néstle-Wagner, requires courage and support from the top management. Once these hurdles are overcome, Arnd Hutmacher advocates working with small, agile teams.

The Experte

Arnd Hutmacher

Head of Digital & Brand PR at Nestlé Wagner

Consumer Goods Sector

Points of contact with AR/VR:


  • AR Apps for online purchasing or taking measurements

  • follows innovations and application examples of AR/VR

  • no gaming despite general interest in computer games


  • since 1 year use of AR as a medium for communication and advertising

"AR/VR need to provide a clear added value, only then the technologies will push through in the long term."

With the new advertising campaign for the "Big City Pizza", you are one of the first pizza manufacturers to bring augmented reality into the freezer since May.

Big City Pizza Boston

1) Where did this idea come from you and what were the first reactions from your customers?

The technologies offer new possibilities to inspire customers for our products and to transport marketing messages. The line is called "Big City" because the tastes are inspired by the big cities of the world and the campaign says "eat BIG CITY - experience BIG CITY". We then thought about how we could best transport the campaign idea. And what is better than bringing the flair of the great metropolises of the world to your table at home? AR is most suitable for this.

We've been working on the idea for a while now, as we need a relatively long time to prepare it. Besides, nobody could expect a worldwide pandemic to break out. We've been working towards it since the middle of last year. However, Corona has led us to postpone the project further because too many factors were uncertain. We did not know how consumers would behave. For 4-6 weeks we were, like everyone else, clueless and did not know how things would go on. A lot had to be reorganized accordingly. So it was a very intensive time.

How did you realize your idea in AR?

To realize the campaign we used Spark AR, the filter function of Facebook. That means we are working in a very small subarea of AR - namely only the AR filter universe of Facebook & Instagram. There we developed an extremely innovative "Cutting Edge" AR campaign, which focuses on Augmented Reality mini-games for Instagram Filter. The games are of course not graphically comparable to the big games like Fortnite, WOW, etc., as the Spark AR filters are still subject to very strong restrictions

Example: Filters of Spark AR Studio

And yes: they are still branded filters. Consumers approach this with a completely different set of expectations. Our goal has never been to anchor the "Big City" Pizza Filter Games in the best games.

The reactions within the industry from our partners and agencies, but also from influencers, are consistently positive and full of enthusiasm. They know what the technology can do and how much we are pushing the limits. In addition, we have asked gamers how they find the application. The campaign has now been running for about 8 weeks and so far, we have received many positive comments.

We have successfully managed to surprise and create a pleasant experience with a brand. I believe that this is what advertising should achieve. The first reactions have been great.

What target group are you addressing with the campaign?

Since Big City is a young brand, we wanted to reach the younger generation in particular. But we noticed that even the slightly older Generation Y consumers are using the application and get excited about it.

2) What were the hurdles you had to master until the advertising campaign was realized, and can you give learning lessons for other companies, educational institutions and interested parties who are also planning a project with AR?

The first hurdle is to be able to tackle the idea at all. There has been no one internally who knows anything about AR campaigns and has been able to share his experience. That means it takes courage to tackle the things first and then support from top management and of course budget.

The next hurdle was the technology. We decided to focus on Spark AR. We were very creative in the beginning and then found out that we quickly reached our technical limits in the implementation. In the end, Spark's capacity to install a filter is limited to a few KB. This means that you have to limit yourself to only a few designed elements per filter/game and you can't use all your creativity. As a special feature, we have also included a few additional functions for customers who have actually bought the pizza. If you scan the packaging first and then play, there are some small changes that should surprise and inspire the consumer.

As a further learning I can say that companies that are very large themselves, such as Nestlé, should rather work with suppliers that are not so large. They often bring the necessary speed and flexibility to such digital projects, which are necessary to get such campaigns live and fast. Spark AR is also developing so fast that every moment counts. In half a year, our application in Spark AR could already be outdated.

And how long did the process of development take?

About half a year. We worked iteratively. The campaign is designed in three waves. So we first conceived the assets for the first wave and put them live. At the same time we started working on waves two and three. The third wave is not yet on the market. So we managed to dramatically shorten the time from the first moment of the idea to going live.

3) Do you see use cases in your area with VR in the future (e.g. a walk-in virtual Néstle Wagner store where you can bake and shop for pizza)?

Ich kann mir viel vorstellen aber das bestimmt nicht. Ich glaube VR, aber auch AR, hat insbesondere im Werk eine große Zukunft, weil man Personen nicht mehr von A nach B bringen muss, um etwas zu erledigen.

As a general rule, new technologies and applications will only succeed in the market if they offer relevant added value. The following 4 main points are important in this context:

1) Convenience - it must be easier for the user

2) Time saving - the customer saves time while shopping

3) Exclusivity - the user gets something that other users do not get

4) Price - the customer gets a price advantage

If an AR/VR application uses these four drivers, you have the chance to establish new processes or business models with AR/VR for your customers.

In the long run, I think the purchasing process will change in the sense that we will wear some kind of Google glass or lens to display personalized advertising, as in the example of "hyper-reality". But I don't see shopping in VR at all.

Future Scenario: „Hyper-Reality“

4) Spotlight on the corona crisis: Have you personally noticed changes in your professional or private environment with regard to the relevance of AR/VR?

Yes I have. However, the technology is not yet ready and companies have not been able to react as quickly. The software providers for videoconferencing, such as Zoom, MS Teams, were not designed for the load in the first weeks of the lockdown. From a technical point of view, we are still very much at the beginning.

From an entrepreneurial point of view, Corona was an initiator for AR/VR and has definitely helped companies in this field to receive more investment funds. That's why I believe that daily working life will change dramatically. In the future, we will take fewer business trips and work more from home instead. To avoid having to show colleagues and customers your messy wardrobe as a background during a video call, we will use a virtual background image instead.

Do you expect industry-/application-specific differences in the usage of AR/VR in the future?

I can imagine AR/VR in gaming very well but I don't think we will replace real experiences with virtual ones.

5) "In 5 years, almost every household will own XR glasses like e.g today mobile phones and laptops and will use them for different applications like holiday simulation, shopping, meetings, for teaching/learning”.

What do you think about this statement?

In my opinion we will need more than 5 or even 10 years, because people are also creatures of habit. The technology is still developing but it will take a while until it is really affordable and established in everyday life. For me, AR/VR cannot be compared to the revolutionary invention of the mobile phone. But I find the vision itself very realistic.

Final statement by Arnd Hutmacher:

I really do believe in AR, much more than in VR. In my opinion there are more possible applications for AR and therefore it will become more popular. In my opinion VR will remain a niche.

Next week in the interview, Anne Beuttenmüller, Director Marketing EMEA at Niantic will talk about the well-known AR game Pokémon GO on #digitalthursday. In the interview, she explains how the company uses AR to improve the mental and physical health of its players.

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