ViacomCBS – The SpongeBob Movie

ViacomCBS’s SpongeBob WebAR filter helps build interest around The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

The Challenge

ViacomCBS wanted to incorporate an AR experience as part of their campaign to promote ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ to audiences in North America.

Additionally, ViacomCBS wanted the AR campaign to be incorporated with other marketing efforts around the film release, including promotional media such as video. Through this approach, they hoped to offer users multiple ways to engage with the SpongeBob brand.

The solution

ViacomCBS commissioned a web-based AR (WebAR) experience, which would allow them to incorporate the AR experience within a wider campaign. The result was an experience which spanned various media — AR, video and a promotional website  — resulting in a WebAR experience unlike any other seen in the entertainment vertical.

The AR campaign was promoted on social media and on a Sweepstakes microsite. Upon accessing the effect, the user was immediately greeted by a video trailer of the film. Then, the user was taken to an AR face effect, which they activated by opening their mouth in response to the message: ‘Arghhh ya’ ready? Open your mouth for more!” After they opened their mouth, the user found their face adopting the famous glossy eyes and buck teeth of their hero, SpongeBob.

Following this, the user was prompted to capture an image of their SpongeBob look, which they could save directly to their mobile device.

Finally, a call-to-action (CTA) redirected the user from the AR effect to the SpongeBob-themed microsite, which promoted the SpongeBob ‘Where’s Gary?’ Getaway Sweepstakes by encouraging fans to find special codes on a series of retail products in order to find the winning one. ViacomCBS worked with partners in advance to include the QR codes on the packaging of 22 million products, including consumer packaged goods (Lunchables, Surprise drinks, Flipz Chocolate Pretzels, Primary Colors and Chocolate Chip Cookies) and toys.

A key priority for ViacomCBS was that the AR effect was targeted at the right audiences. As a result, the effect was designed with SpongeBob’s target audience of parents with children aged 4 - 12 in mind, as well as superfans of the SpongeBob brand. This required a balance between features, messaging and CTAs to ensure that the content was easy to follow and age-appropriate.

We wanted to engage SpongeBob fans, parents and kids and enhance shoppers’ experiences on-pack. A SpongeBob AR photo filter was the perfect solve and Poplar brought a wealth of expertise and support as we brought this to life for the first time as part of our national retail promotion.

- Ross Archer-Haynes, Senior Director, Retail Marketing, ViacomCBS


The SpongeBob campaign was part of a national program featured on over 22 million products, which drove a 29% lift in sales and helped drive 181,000 entries to a weekly sweepstakes.

The AR element had tremendous success, reaching an incredible 15,797 monthly active users (MAUs) at its peak, a rare feat for a WebAR experience.

Moreover, in the second month since the effect was published, MAUs grew an outstanding 6,000% thanks to ViacomCBS’s promotion efforts, which very effectively drove fans to the AR experience. This proves that AR campaigns, when well promoted, can be extremely effective in respect to other traditional marketing efforts.

As a consequence of the campaign’s success, ViacomCBS have since worked with Poplar Studio to launch AR campaigns for another of their top brands, Jojo Siwa.

Try the experience here.