The LA Rams Unveil New Interactive Augmented Reality at SoFi Stadium
The ARound app lets you watch the game in a whole new way, with custom Rams minigames and animations.
For years, the cell phone has been the mortal enemy of the in-stadium experience professional, a needy pocket gremlin crying out for attention in between—and often during—live sports action. But Josh Beatty, founder and CEO of augmented reality app ARound, and the LA Rams have a plan to turn that battery-powered nemesis into an ally, thanks to a new AR experience during Rams home games at SoFi Stadium, another great reason to make a point of visiting the shimmering palace in Inglewood beyond the art and the food.
You can download the ARound app through a QR code, which appears prominently on SoFi Stadium’s titanic video board before and during Rams games, or by finding it in the App Store or on Google Play. Load it up then enter your seat information, and you’re off and running. Hold your phone up to look at the field, and you can manipulate a host of digital objects and play games that appear to be happening on the field itself—and you’ll see other app users around the stadium doing the same.
Many of ARound’s activities are aimed at younger fans, or fans who maybe don’t connect with the tension and anticipation of the in-between moments at a football game. After a big quarterback takedown, instead of looking at the down and distance, analyzing team strengths and trying to guess the next play call, you can make a digital caricature of Aaron Donald dance as blue and yellow sacks with the word “SACK” on them fall around him.
During TV timeouts, you can watch the Rams tribute to the 1999 Super Bowl winning team on the jumbotron, or you can play a field-goal kicking minigame and then watch as your kick appears digitally superimposed on the field from your actual perspective. At any point, you can tap the screen to toss various objects onto the field, and, in a genius bit of multiplayer engagement, you can see the things other people are tossing too. Digital beach balls bounce through the crowd, footballs fly onto the field, and blue octopi float majestically down from the bleachers.
It’s not that Rams games are boring—far from it, thanks to Marissa Daly, the Rams’ VP and GM of Media, and her team’s lively programming. There is something happening at every moment in between plays; during a TV timeout, the Mariachi Rams band steps onto the stage and blasts a quick rendition of “I Got 5 On It,” or maybe they will run a karaoke game on the jumbotron with ad-libs from in-house DJ MaL-Ski, and then Danny Trejo pops up on the videoboard to ask the crowd “Whose house?” To which you are expected to reply, of course, “Rams’ house!” It is a chaotic and fun experience, a treat even in the midst of an injury-plagued follow-up campaign for last season’s Super Bowl champions.
ARound’s phone app is not designed to supplant any of that artfully choreographed entertainment, or to replace anyone’s primary viewing experience. It is a supplement, a second-screen bit of fun for folks who can’t quite quit their phones—for now at least. Beatty and Elspeth Rollert, CMO of the Stagwell Marketing Cloud of which ARound is a part, talk about an unlimited future of brand-based storytelling and, potentially, monetization. With ARound, fans could watch and engage with an ever-shifting stadium, highlight players to learn more about them, and play with any number of easily customizable digital assets. For games around Halloween they could add spooky blue and gold decor, and during winter you might be able to turn SoFi into SnowFi with a tap on a phone screen.
Beatty makes broad reference, also, to NFTs, maybe including tokens that could commemorate attendance at a game or event. At SoFi stadium all tickets are digital, so this could someday serve as a 21st century ticket stub, proof positive that you were there for a specific game, that you bore witness to a special play, a non-fungible souvenir to show the grandkids.
In recent years it has become all too easy to miss the collective moment with your nose buried in social media or texts or work emails, the people’s history subsumed by the Wordle group chat. If ARound is able to harness that distraction and redirect it towards the field, even with an overlay of digital octopi and minigames, the experience for everyone will be better for it.