Hell Pizza has enlisted trans-Tasman digital marketers One Fat Sheep and Wellington's Inject Design to make its pizza boxes the passage to an augmented reality world full of zombies.
Users download the app to iOS or Android smartphones, then scan a QR code on specially printed promotional pizza boxes to play the game.
It's then all about defending Hell stores from hordes of zombies, using pizza bombs to lure them and machine guns and other weapons to kill them off.
The AR game was one of several ideas One Fat Sheep pitched to Hell, says CEO Rupert Deans. "We'd been talking with them for quite a while about what they could do to engage users and about digital marketing. This was one of the ideas we put forward to them. The (AR) experience is at a point now where it's more fun and interactive. With smarter devices it's reached the tipping point."
Customers can win rewards like free sides and pizza as they move through the game levels and share their achievements on social media.
"It's really a convergence of gamification with an app and the design and the user experience, but tying it all back to loyalty. There hasn't been anything that I know of today that gives such a unique brand experience."
Hell Pizza CEO Ben Cumming says his company has been looking at gamification for a while and wanted a fun way to improve customer loyalty.
"Not only is [the game] a first in our industry, it fits the brand and our audience perfectly.
"We've seen more and more customers engage solely with Hell online and on handheld devices."
Hell's objectives for the game were to reward customers and use it to drive sales, says Cumming. It was also another way to have fun with the business, he says.
The game is an evolution of Hell's forays into zombie-themed marketing. In 2010 it released an interactive 'pick a path' YouTube video, Deliver Me To Hell.
Deans adds his company will soon add a bonus level to the game, played via a poster. It will give the user the feeling they're looking through a window into the game world, rather than down on it as it would appear if used via the pizza box.
At the time of writing the app had been downloaded 6000 times.
One Fat Sheep developed it with Qualcomm's Vuforia AR platform, while Inject conceived the designs.
It sees the platform as "the first of many steps in uncovering the potential of augmented reality" in customer experience, says Deans.
The company, which has offices in Christchurch and Melbourne, has developed Flash-based games and AR apps for retailers, but this is its first AR game.
It developed the prototype for Zombies from Hell in three months.