To reach more parents of young kids during the COVID-19 pandemic, Young People’s Theatre ran ads for Instagram augmented reality effects, and saw a 6.3-point lift in ad recall.

Canadian drama school for kids

Young People‘s Theatre is Canada’s oldest and largest professional theatre company for young audiences. For over 56 years, the nonprofit has staged countless plays and provided young people with opportunities to develop their whole being.


lift in ad recall


lift in brand familiarity

Theater has the potential to unlock a child’s emotional, social and intellectual development, which is a core belief of Young People’s Theatre. Pre-pandemic, parents could take their kids to plays or encourage them to participate in drama classes. By showing them that world via ads with AR effects, we aimed to keep the joy of theater alive while our stages were dark.
Showcasing the arts

Young People’s Theatre sought to raise awareness about its organization during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown, remind parents of the benefits of the performing arts, and show the power that theater can have on a young person’s life.

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Building immersive experiences

Young People’s Theatre began its 2021–22 season solely online and wanted to run a fun ad campaign to spark imaginations and get people excited about the power of theater wherever they are in Canada. So it decided to use the capabilities of augmented reality (AR ) to remind audiences of the magic that happens on stage.

Toronto-based ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo created two interactive ads for Instagram augmented reality effects. One was a story of a friendly “alien” who found their voice through theater, and the other was of a “zebra” who learned of new possibilities and discovered new worlds when watching a live performance.

Each ad included a Try in Camera button that, when clicked, immediately opened the camera on the ad viewer’s mobile device and loaded the AR filter effects. Then, when viewers took a selfie, the filter effects displayed as overlays and made viewers appear as if they were inside a colorful theater scene. The ads enabled thousands of people to take center stage as the characters themselves. The AR effects provided the makeup, costumes and backdrop, with cues and lines appearing on-screen and gestures captured through facial recognition moving the action along and changing the scenery. The ads included messaging to “Star in our AR filter” and share the experience with others by using the hashtag #StarInAR.

Young People’s Theatre delivered the ads to English-speaking Canadian adults aged 25–50—including parents and teachers—in Instagram feed and Stories. The team measured the results of the December 1‒31, 2021 campaign using a brand lift study, which revealed that the ads generated:

  • 6.3-point lift in ad recall
  • 1.8-point lift in brand familiarity
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As an independent agency, we’ve been helping organizations of all sizes get through these difficult times. And we know first-hand how creativity like AR can be a positive force to help solve big challenges. In this campaign, the interactive AR filters provided a stimulating, imaginative way to immerse parents, teachers and kids in the experience and inspire them to interact.