"What (empty) are you" augmented reality filters on Instagram have become so popular that more and more Hollywood giants are following the augmented reality-driven social media metaphor, with the latest example coming via Snapchat.
The trendy camera effects that began with Which Disney Filters and transformed into similar tributes to Harry Potter, Pokémon and Simpsons Characters have now been adopted by one of the largest streaming media brands on the planet: Hulu.
Now a property in Disney's huge entertainment arsenal, Hulu has put its own spin on the popular AR filter trend with a sponsored lens on Snapchat, unlike Instagram, where the filters built on the Spark AR platform first gained popularity.
Despite the change of location, the experience on Snapchat is not too different from the Instagram version. Filters on Instagram usually start when recording starts and stops after a certain amount of time.
Hulu's "What Should I Watch" Snapchat Lens starts when users tap the screen, which blends images from the Hulu show and ends when users raise their eyebrows.
This is us ? No thanks. It's always sunny in Philadelphia ? I will take it. Do you agree with the Kardashians ? Hard no. Letter ? Pitter patter, let's go.
According to a Snap spokesman, Lens has been driving the Lens Carousel this week for Snapchat users in the United States. However, like previous Snapchat marketing campaigns, not all users can see the lens because its appearance is based on different (unclear) usage patterns directed by Hulu. The "what (blank) are you" feature is fairly new, but Snapchat has used it on other lenses due to its popularity.
Back on Instagram, at least one AR start has also come in on the act. Kirin Sinha, founder and CEO of Illumix, recently published "Which FNAF?" featuring characters from the company's debut AR game, Five Nights at Freddy's AR Special Delivery. You can try it yourself by navigating to Sinha's profile and pointing to the filter tab (labeled with the smiley face with sparkles).
But Sinha says she built its version during a Friday night. The DIY nature of the experience removes the shrinking factor that the big brand raises.
It's a strange joke of creativity in the digital age, when viral humor is often repurposed by brands. Sometimes it works, as with the infamous Wendy's Twitter account. But other times, the result is more like Steve Buscemi's character-thinking character on 30 Rock – sweaty, over-eager and fake.
And it is interesting to see the same bike play out with the augmented reality. The duality of the Snapchat and Facebook / Instagram platforms, where creators and brands contribute AR experiences to the masses, virtually guarantees that we will see another section of brands that seem cool about other kids.
Further reporting by Adario Strange