AR Filters Marketing Survey of the 250 Biggest Restaurant Chains

Take a very close look with us at how AR filters have been used by restaurant chains in the last years. By analizing hundreds of camera effects, we came up with the statistics (there are charts!), use cases, conclusions and tips that will prove essential for every person engaged in AR marketing. And, of course, you’ll discover A LOT of delicious filters 🍕

2020 was the year in which many brands used AR filter for marketing reasons for the first time. This also applies to the restaurant chains’ industry, which was using AR a lot recently. That’s why we decided to take a closer look at the numbers and trends to define the state of AR marketing in this sector. In the article, we try to answer such questions as how many chains already used AR filter, which ones use them most frequently, and what does it all mean for the Creators and marketing managers. We hope that the data gathered here will serve you well, and dozens of branded food-y AR filters presented below and hundreds on Lenslist will inspire even more new ones.

In our survey, we used a report of the top 250 restaurant chains by Restaurant Business in 2020. The numbers that you’ll see below are the effect of our own ongoing research, as neither Instagram nor Snapchat publish detailed data on the usage of branded AR. For reasons beyond our control, we’re focusing here on Instagram filters. Read more about those reasons and the nature of AR marketing below 👇


I. Restaurant chains’ AR filters in numbers
II. Different AR filters’ types and strategies to engage foodies
III. 10 (15?) chains that are embracing AR like no one else

I. Restaurant chains’ AR filters in numbers

The numbers below serve one, very important goal: to show you trends and tendencies considering food chains and AR filters’ marketing. How many brands from the list have used an AR filter yet? Which type of filters is the most popular and why? How does the place in the ranking relates to the number of filters used? Let’s pick up our calculators and find out!

Chains with at least 1 AR filter

60 out of 250 (24%) brands from the report have used AR filter on Instagram at least once. Some may ask: is it good? The answer is: IT’S INCREDIBLE!

It means that, for the relatively new marketing format that AR is (Instagram filters can be used by brands since Fall of 2019), almost 1/4 of the food chains in US has already used it! AR filters have swiftly become a legitimate part of digital campaigns thanks to their advantages:

  • an unprecedented level of engagement
  • novelty and versatility – you’ll discover them below
  • ultimate personalization: the user is a part of the creation
  • well-prepared filters are extremely shareable organically

💡 In the first 20 months since brands can publish Instagram filters, 24% of the biggest food chains already did it.

Quantities of AR filters in relation to ranking spots

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Randomizers: a welcomer to the AR world

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II. Different AR filters’ types and strategies to engage foodies

AR filters have a lot of different ways to engage and interact with the users to offer. In fact, as a ‘marketing format’, they consist of many various mediums, including sound, graphics (which augment the reality, of course), quizzes, text, and even games.

Let’s take a look at what types of filters and AR functionalities are used most often by a food chains industry 👇

❔ Inside Lenslist database, every one of tens of thousands of filters is labelled with tags. They refer to filters’ theme, content, context, purpose and AR functionalities. They turned out to be very handy here by enabling us to make this list.

1. Randomizers

As we said earlier, randomizers where a big hit in 2020. The simple idea turned out to be crazy engaging and shareable, so they remain one of the most popular AR filters’ type among brands. It is even more true when it comes to the food chains. In that case, randomizers give you a perfect opportunity to familiarize your fans with the items from the menu. Take a look at a few examples, try them out and heed our suggestions.

My Menchie’s Favour
by mymenchies

Lunch Order Roulette
by goldenchickofficial

Rock Valentine’s Day
by hardrockcafe

It is good to make randomizers stand out from the crowd with their aesthetics and animations or by offering a funny line or a message that the user can share with their loved ones. It’s always good to try to shake things up in a creative way. For example, McDonald’s slowed down a randomizer to create a fun game for two people in which they can take a selfie when both are happy with their cravings.

💡 Keep it simple and light, but always stay creative.

How Freaky Are You?
by jimmyjohns

McDonald’s Cravings
by mcdonaldsnl

All #randomizer filters

2. Sound

Sound is a very important factor in AR filters. It sets the mood and makes the experience whole and unforgettable. This is why we tag those filters in which sound plays a role with #sound. This includes both music (eg. Sip, Smile, Spring!, which recalls Mario theme song) and sound effects (eg. Drop A Big Bo Box, where the sound is essential to the animation; or Hutlloween Lobo in which a wolf’s scowl is made by pursing users’ lips). What’s more, there are filters for Instagram like Blue Slush Serenade that react to the sounds recorded by a device (see more)! Make sure to turn the sound on 🔈 before trying out the filters below 👇

Blue Slush Serenade
by sonicdrivein

Drop A Big Bo Box
by bojangles

Hutlloween Lobo
by pizzahutes

All filters with #sound

3. AR Games

AR games are all kinds of challenges that are available for everyone in the form of Instagram filters and Snap Lenses. In most of them, head movement and face gestures are treated as controllers. What’s more, the camera is used to make an experience more personalized than in traditional games.

When it comes to the food chains, AR games have been used in many ways, from quizzes (eg. Fish or False, compliance game SONIC Asks and an incredibly witty Guess the Footlong by Subway), balancing (eg. Balance the Peach) and building burger towers (Burger Tower), to many eating challenges (eg. All You Can Eat or Jagonya Makan Ayam).

ShackMeister Drop
by shakeshacksg

30 лет дружбы
by mcdonalds_rus

Domino’s Pizza offered pizza discounts based on a result in their game. ShackMeister and others created burger-making games (great way to get your fans to know their ingredients), while McDonald’s made a rivalry multiuser speed eating challenge.

All #game filters



‘Be the’



Face mask


Plane tracking

Target tracking

[nowy wykres: najczęstsze tagi/funkcje]

III. 10 food chains that are embracing AR like no one else

1. McDonald’s


It’s not a surprise that McDonald’s is a trendsetter when it comes to implementing freshly new ideas and technologies into a marketing strategy. It embraced AR a long time ago with Snapchat’s geotargeted campaigns, and is now a primary source of inspiration for a great Augmented Reality marketing on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Among 70 official filters by McDonald’s branches from all over the world that we’ve collected up until now, you’ll find almost anything that AR filters have to offer. From addictive randomizers (eg. Which Crispy Chicken), AR games (eg. Burger Tower) and World French Fries Day celebration (Dia de la Papa 2020) to amazing Pride Month solidarity filter that interacts with a real-life ‘golden arches’ (Happy Pride!) and filters that turn you into a superheroes to be found in Happy Meals (McDonald’s – Justice League Action), McDonald’s shows an impressive variety of ways in which you can engage your fans with AR.

hurry for mcflurry
by mcdonaldsleb

Daj si Tastyho

American Big Tasty
by mcdonalds_pa

Hurry for McFlurry is a classic platform game with an AR twist – you control your character by batting your eyes. But it’s also a non-invasive reminder: it’s warm out there, so it’s time for McFlurry ice-cream. Daj si Tastyho is an AR game that perfectly corresponds with McDonald’s modern design while making your mouth water. And the last filter presented above, American Big Tasty is an example of the filter with no branding whatsoever. It catches the essence of the brand, though, and offers users the filter that they’re very likely to use in their private stories.

All filters by McDonald’s

2. Starbucks

The biggest chain of coffeehouses in the world is using AR filters as regularly and as on the point as any other brand. Their strategy is based mostly on the yearly circle, and so, the published AR filters always correspond with a current time of the year, weather, holidays etc. Our collection of 35 official Starbucks filters consists of impressive, technologically advanced AR experiences as well as highly sharable, simpler creations based on a great idea.

For example, Dot filter is a perfect combination of both. With the front camera, the user can take a snowy, subtle selfie with no branding and a steam coming out from her open lips. After switching to the rear camera, the user can scan Starbucks’ iconic cup (using #target tracking feature) to see how it is covered with a glass snow globe.

by starbucks_j_cpg

Sweet Potato Latte
by starbucks_j_cpg

by starbucks

Starbucks is also using AR to celebrate their guests’ favourite or new seasonal beverages, like Pumpkin Spice Latte or Sweet Potato Latte. Sweet potate is one of the representative tastes of Autumn in Japan, and so Starbucks went for a Halloween-themed look for both cup’s design and AR filter.

The rest of the Starbucks filters are also a must see, as their games, randomizers, face masks, target trackings and frames are all a worthy examples of how to implement AR into brand’s strategy on a regular basis.

All filters by Starbucks

3. Burger King

[nie wszystkie z searcha otagowane – naprawić]

The third place on our list deserves a crown, as well as every guest of this multinational chain of restaurants. On top of a lot of AR crowns, Burger King’s branches managed to create over 20 original creations that cleverly allude to the brand’s traits, eg. flames (eg. 漢堡王怪獸堡釋放你的火) and roast marks (eg. Flame Grill 2020), or popular ingredients, like cheese (see a funny face mask Say Cheese).

Worth noticing is a filter by Indonesian BK that teaches how to say “thank you” in the sign language (BK BISINDO Makassar). Finally, Catch the Whopper is an AR game that is all about learning the ingredients of the most famous BK’s burger – the Whopper 🔥

Catch the WHOPPER!

Flame Grill 2020
by burgerkingindia

Say Cheese

All filters by Burger King

Pizza Hut



Papa John’s


Shake Shack

Golden Chick

Summing up

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