HBO and Snap Launch VR Campaign for His Dark Materials

The entertainment powerhouse and social media company's latest partnership involves geo-located AR filters.

Need to Know

  • HBO’s promotion for their new series His Dark Materials includes a series of augmented reality activations.
  • Partnering with Snapchat, HBO began AR promotions last month with an experience that, using Snapchat’s Marker Tracking technology, summoned key characters from posters installed in New York and Los Angeles.
  • HBO also launched a Landmarker Lens for Snapchat users in the vicinity of the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.


By using Snapchat’s renowned AR lenses, fans of HBO’s new His Dark Materials—predominantly US teens—are able to engage with key characters and digitally manipulate their surroundings in a way that has become a signature for the premium network. 

His Dark Materials is an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels series and it first premiered on HBO in November. Following its release, HBO immediately rolled out an AR campaign. Using Snapchat’s Marker Tracking technology and key art from the series, Snapchat users could experience a giant polar bear bursting forth from posters installed in New York City and Los Angeles.

HBO’s AR experience then took fans atop the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. That new campaign lets fans add furry characters to selfies in addition to branded icons and episode air dates.  

But why Snapchat? According to Snap’s Q3 earnings report, the app has now surpassed 210 million daily active users, 90% of which are US teens aged 13 to 24-year-olds – the core audience for this new HBO show. While Facebook and Instagram may have a larger reach, Snapchat enjoys an advantage with younger audiences. Snap has said that more than 70% of its users play with AR lenses every day, amounting to 250 million total minutes of daily usage, resulting in a lot of potential marketing screen time. 

HBO previously enlisted the use of AR with the marketing of a Game of Thrones season finale. Sponsored Landmark Lenses allowed Snapchat users to gawk at ‘undead ice dragons’ atop iconic New York City skyscrapers, an engagement that allowed all fans to become a mother, or father, of dragons for the day. HBO has also used AR activations for shows such as Watchmen.

Take a look at one of the filters below.