This past year, virtual reality has made significant headway, evolving from a developer’s distant dream to something that is tangible and accessible to the consumer. Although the most common association with VR is gaming; brands, publishers, and organizations have made compelling executions to integrate VR into their marketing and brand strategy, becoming more present in the casual consumer’s day-to-day life. From sitting in the driver’s seat, speeding down a cliffside road of a foreign coast, to being able to stand completely immersed in the surroundings of a dusty city suffering from the aftermath of ethnic strife VR lets you live the story. Virtual Reality is expected to continue to grow into a significant market.
Let’s take a look at the top 6 ways companies used virtual reality this past year to boost their brand.
Living The News
Put yourself at the center our stories in an immersive virtual-reality experience.www.nytimes.com
The New York Times made Virtual Reality reach a new, broader demographic in November by announcing the launch of daily 360 degree video news stories, making a more emotional, impactful way for people to experience the news. With the first content series featuring VR documentation of civil strife in Yemen, viewers have commented that such content makes them empathize and feel more engaged with the world than through traditional reporting. One of the first experiences captured by the NYT was that of the aftermath of the 2015 bombings in Paris. Users were able to physically look around at candlelight vigils being held in the foreground of the Eiffel Tower on an autumn evening. VR news content is a natural progression of how social media and visual digital reporting has made conflict in the world closer to home than ever before.
Walking The Runway
After the Spring 2016 fashion and technology themed Metropolitan Gala, it has become trendy in the fashion industry to become a player in the digital age. In addition to fashion brands pushing wearable collaborations, virtual reality has emerged as fresh marketing tool. Dior was the first luxury brand to provide a VR runway experience, allowing viewers to sit front row at one of fashion’s most exclusive events. The VR show allowed viewers to turn their heads left to see the glittering flashbulbs of press capturing each runway look, while turning right would allow viewers to people-watch the neighboring audience. Similar fashion show VR experiences have been executed by Topshop, Rebecca Minkoff, and others. Not only can VR be applied to the runway, but VR allows customers to go behind the scenes at a Calvin Klein photoshoot or visualize what clothing would look like on them, a la a Tommy Hilfiger in-store VR installation. According to HTC Vive’s Phil Chen, “Since you’re not limited to the laws of physics in VR, you can walk around your design in space, you can see through and even storyboard your designs,” enabling designers to broaden the possibilities of 3D printed garments.
Life is a Movie
As VR is the ultimate visual experience, it naturally lends itself to film. Not only have film studios released 360 degree video movie trailers, but they have also created VR movie experiences. In the midst of a Star Wars revival, experiences such as being able to speed across the red, sandy desert of Jakku in VR have been developed, and distributed by OmniVirt.
Drive spaceship across desert land.upload.omnivirt.com
Such products allow film enthusiasts to expand the world of the film to become an interactive experience outside of the theater. Other companies have been working on producing original VR feature film content. Penrose studios, who aims to be the “Pixar of virtual reality” is releasing an animated VR film at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Center-field…Or Should I Say Courtside
Any die-hard sports fan probably would be hard-pressed to imagine anything more thrilling than experiencing the world’s most anticipated sporting events from the center of all the action. This year being on the field at the Rio games became a reality thanks to VR coverage of the Olympics by NBC and Samsung. Startups such as NextVR specialize in broadcasting sporting events live in VR. And brands, such as Nike have been using interest in the intersection of VR and sports experiences to simulate playing on a soccer field, wearing Nike products. “The Neymar JR Effect” allowed viewers to play soccer from the point of view of a beloved player, while also boosting Nike brand affiliation.
Revamping the Test Drive
When marketing a car, it is difficult to convey the special experience of driving the vehicle without actually taking it for a test on the road. Car companies such as Jaguar and Infiniti have integrated VR test drive experiences into their car launches. In the spirit of launching their first-ever electric car, Jaguar allowed members of the media experience the new model before it physically was able to hit the roads, getting viewers to really feel the design and luxury of the car. Infiniti’s VR experience allows viewers to take the Q60 for a spin on mountainous, cliffside terrain without any risk.
Drive Infiniti Q60 along the coastal scene.upload.omnivirt.com
VR provides unparalleled accessibility to exclusive, hard-to-reach events all over the world. From Live Nation streaming VR concerts to brands allowing you to experience their product in ways that go beyond the bounds of everyday life, the value of experience is grounded in VR.
Great startup and networking event in Cologneupload.omnivirt.com
Redbull for example used a VR skydiving experience to engage with their customers, showing how the product can truly “give you wings.” Viewers were able to experience the point of view of a skydiver parachuting on a sunny day to a below forest and village.