With international travel still on pause for many Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic, the desire for adventure has reached new heights. National Geographic has stepped in with a great escape: an AR experience on Mount Everest.
National Geographic just unveiled a new lens on Instagram that allows users to take an expedition to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. Through the lens, “travelers” can dress up as Everest climbers and scale the mountain, beginning at a 15,800 ft. altitude base camp. As they climb, users can see their breath, move their phones around to observe a 360-degree view, and take selfies from the top of the peak. Users climbing up the mountain will see their clothing change to reflect what climbers have to wear as the altitude changes. To see where they are on their adventure, viewers can click on a yellow button on their jackets and view a map of the mountain.
The lens was made as an extension of National Geographic’s partnership with Rolex, which has a joint team called Perpetual Planet that visited Mount Everest in 2019 to install the highest weather stations in the world. Lens users that make it to the top of the mountain can see footage from the team actually installing the weather stations at 1,400 feet below the summit. The brands are launching the lens feature a year later to commemorate National Geographic’s July 2020 issue on Mount Everest.
The Mount Everest lens is National Geographic’s second AR experience in recent months. For Earth Day this past April, the brand debuted a realistic, but cautionary tale about climate change using Instagram’s lens feature. Users could access the Earth Day lens from the brand’s April 2020 issue in print or online. This time around fans can simply go to Instagram’s camera and type in “Everest Climb” to launch the lens. By creating an AR experience exclusive to Instagram, National Geographic once again has an opportunity to connect with the platform’s young user base through one of its most frequented features according to a Gartner report. Younger consumers continually seek interactive experiences they can share on social media, so the creation of a lens that echoes the reality of climbing the world’s highest mountain could help National Geographic engage with this audience and potentially strengthen its connection with those who also used the Earth Day lens.
National Geographic’s second foray into Instagram lenses provides viewers with a more immersive portrayal of climbing Mount Everest than they could get from looking at photos. The Mount Everest lens not only takes users on an adventure no one can currently experience during the pandemic, but teaches younger users about the highest mountain in the world in a digital manner that’s second-nature to them.