Panda Express has brought a taste of Lunar New Year to millions of people throughout the U.S. in its restaurants since 1983, and this year, the American Chinese brand is bringing the world’s largest celebration to guests through an immersive augmented reality (AR) world. Beginning on January 15, guests around the country can enjoy the new limited time offering Firecracker Shrimp as well as interact with and play in the vibrant traditions of Lunar New Year through the first-ever Lunar New Year themed mobile AR experience.
Through Instagram and Facebook mobile platforms, the Celebration of Good Fortune AR experience gives guests a chance to jump into five distinct traditions and share with their friends and family. Each AR filter brings to life a sense of childlike wonder and provides an interactive way to engage with the rich culture and symbolism behind Lunar New Year: a game to snack on lucky foods and throw firecrackers to ward off evil spirits, join the parade as a lion dancer, swipe up to unlock the lucky red envelope surprise and bask in the beautiful glow of the Lantern Festival. From January 15 thru February 8, participants can enter for a chance to win a three-day trip, featuring VIP experiences, in 2021 to Universal Studios Hollywood* to celebrate Lunar New Year.
“Every year, we at Panda celebrate the first day of Lunar New Year by gifting lucky red envelopes to all of our guests; and this year, we are thrilled to further invite them into this wonder-filled celebration through our themed AR experience,” says Andrea Cherng, Chief Marketing Officer at Panda Express. “The Lunar New Year holiday is at heart about coming together to bring and share joy and good fortune. As a holiday that is deeply rooted in our culture, we are honored to bring millions of people together to celebrate Lunar New Year through our crave-worthy food and our new digital experience.”
Food is one of the most important parts of the holiday—families and friends come together around a table of lucky dishes, each representing a well-wish for the new year. Inspired by the firecrackers that line the streets during Lunar New Year, Panda Express introduces an American Chinese original Firecracker Shrimp, with bold and loud flavors that capture the spirit of the festivities. The Wok Smart® menu item features hand-chopped red and yellow bell peppers, onions, string beans, whole dried chilis, and large, succulent shrimp, wok-tossed in a savory black bean sauce. Continuing its annual tradition, Panda Express locations will be passing out over one million red envelopes with a coupon for a free Firecracker Shrimp entrée and a Coca-Cola product as well as a playful tangram for the kids.
In addition, Panda Express inspires cultural curiosity in the classroom through its Learn with Me curriculum, complete with interactive videos and fun hands-on activities for students to discover Lunar New Year in a tangible way. Now in its fifth year, the Learn with Me program has grown to service thousands of schools, teachers and students nationwide.