Maxis is winning the hongbao game this year with these interactive AR envelopes

Maxis’ hongbaos for 2018 have a special AR feature that include three adorable lions.
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In an age when lucky money is increasingly handed out virtually via chat apps, traditional red envelopes (hongbao) could be becoming passé.

Malaysian telecommunications company Maxis is taking the Chinese New Year tradition of red envelope gifting to the next level this year with augmented reality (AR) technology.

The envelopes being given out at Maxis stores this year may look ordinary at first, but are actually AR-enabled when viewed through the telcom’s Chinese New Year HuatAr app.

It also helps that a video commercial produced for the new hongbaos has been widely shared online for its hilarious take on what being a lion dance lion is like.

The video, which garnered more than 10,000 shares and close to a million views in under three days, features a Hokkien-speaking lion named Ah Huat being interviewed about his job.

While the lion of “40 years” started off the interview on a jovial note, the mood soon descends into despair as he talks about how busy it gets during the Chinese New Year.

“Mother! I’m so tired!” he calls out before collapsing to the ground.

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The commercial then cleverly uses Ah Huat to show off what Maxis’ new hongbao can do.

Each packet comes with one of three lions designed to wish its owner luck in his or her career, health and prosperity.

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When viewed on the app, the unique lion assigned to a particular hongbao pops up on the user’s mobile screen.

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These lions are designed to be pet-like (very apt for the year of the dog), and can dance, light virtual firecrackers, feed on virtual oranges, and pose for photos with users when in camera mode.

A feature which allows users to dance with their virtual lion.
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Suddenly excited, the burned out Ah Huat says: “Now I don’t have to run everywhere this year. Whenever, wherever you are, I will be there!”

The HuatAr app’s photo-taking feature lets users pose for photos with their lion.
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According to Marketing Interactive, Maxis engaged Ensemble Worldwide to develop this year’s Chinese New Year campaign.

Calling the idea of having a lion dance in one’s pocket “powerful”, head of marketing services at Maxis, Tai Kam Leong, said: “Following the cult success of PokemonGo and Hotlink Pokemobile, we were excited to integrate the beauty of AR with the culturally relevant lion dance.”

The app also allows users to feed their virtual lions oranges.
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The parties engaged The Ministry Experience to develop the HuatAr app from scratch, and the lions were designed to feature a mix of traditional and social interactions popular in the digital age.

The team also consulted the Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association to develop the app.

Watch the commercial below: