Searching for Shakira’s Gold

I originally set out to write one post about three augmented reality experiences with geolocation hooks I played recently, but after writing more words than I had planned to, I’ve split this up into three installments. Last week was Garfield Go. Enjoy!

I don’t know where Shakira stands within the pop music hierarchy. I listen to most music genres but admittedly don’t know much about her beyond the hazy recollection that one of her singles sits in the back of my consciousness somewhere. I was, however, targeted by a Facebook post for her latest album, El Dorado, and a geolocation-based treasure hunt promoting it.

Shakira El Dorado promotion

Leading up to the album’s release you could go to a website treasure map populated with chests and if close enough to a chest, sensed by your phone’s GPS, you’d discover…content?

Shakira El Dorado

The nearest treasure chest was near The White House which is a quick subway ride from work. I was on board, though doubtful as I’ve previously met roadblocks when looking to unlock secrets at The White House.

Shakira Augmented Reality El Dorado

Thankfully Shakira’s treasure unlocked for me at a generous distance. I didn’t even have to enter Lafayette Square which was extra fortunate as shortly thereafter Capitol Police locked down the whole area. The usual security theatre? A passing minor diplomat? Life in Washington, D.C.

I was presented with two options: upload a selfie or to “discover content from Shakira.” This was the journey I volunteered for.

Shakira El Dorado

Opting to check out the selfie option I took a surreptitious photo away from the drama unfolding in the square so I wouldn’t get clubbed by Capitol Police. The website whirled for a moment and…nothing happened. I tried this a few more times before the police widened their lockdown and I had to move on. Thankfully I was still close enough to try my luck at whatever exclusive content Shakira was waiting to personally deliver to me.

That didn’t work either. After trying the option to “skip” through the email list signup, I entered a fake email. Nothing. I broke and entered my real email address as if Shakira knew I wasn’t being honest with her.

Shakira El Dorado

It didn’t work. Maybe I missed my window? Maybe I wasn’t as close to the treasure chest as the website actually wanted? Now I’ll never know what that selfie would have looked like. I imagine that Shakira herself would’ve appeared behind me like we’re best buds.

Austin and Shakira
Artist’s Interpretation

My mind can’t comprehend the kind of content that I’ve missed out on by not being able to get past that signup screen. (But let’s be real, it’s all probably better left to the imagination.)

None of the three augmented reality, geolocation experiences I talked about over these three weeks turned out to be any good. It’s almost like it’s not a good idea to use these tools to promote a product without that core idea first being able to stand on its own. Or in the case of the Shakira promotion, work at all. Though, that one gets an asterisk since there are plenty of factors that could have caused an issue with my specific experience. I’ll gladly keep trying whatever comes my way, even if it’s only going to get worse with Apple and Google openly declaring a race to host the next AR-based phenomenon by releasing a bunch of tools for developers to play with. We’ll surely see a few brilliant ideas and a ton of garbage. I can’t wait; please send me your press release.

I was running around with my coworkers doing a scavenger hunt that took us by The White House and being much closer this time with no Capitol Police lock down, I wanted to give this another try.  I shouldn’t have. It was as expected, a terribly weak experience. My selfie as you’ll see below is just a weird gold tint filter with a watermark added.

The exclusive content? Some shaky 10 second video shot on someone’s phone of Shakira saying that she was excited about her new album. That was it. As one of my coworkers pointed out, it likely was just one her Snapchat videos re-purposed.  I’m not angry at you, Shakira, just disappointed.