What are the challenges brands face when crafting stories in virtual reality? We explore the common pitfalls and how they can be avoided.
Virtual reality marketing is becoming increasingly important, as it enables marketers to give customers the closest experience they can get of a product, service, or place without physically being there. This level of engagement and awareness impacts consumers more than traditional media because it creates strong emotions and memories that have been linked to real behavior change.
But what do successful virtual reality marketing campaigns look like? Below, in no particular order, are the 10 best VR marketing campaigns in recent memory.
1. Thomas Cook
U.K. travel agency Thomas Cook launched the “Try Before You Fly” campaign in late 2014 to promote VR as a tool for travel agents. The agency produced a range of experiences such as a helicopter tour of New York City for customers to test at 10 of the travel agency’s stores in the U.K., Germany, and Belgium. The campaign resulted in a 190 percent increase in New York travel revenue for the agency in 2015.
2. Visit Houston
Recently, Visit Houston set out to eliminate the belief that Houston is little more than cattle and tumbleweeds. The DMO partnered with YouVisit to create a unique virtual experience that enabled viewers to explore the best parts of Houston from any device, including VR.
Visit Houston’s experience (embed above) transports viewers to Minute Maid Park, the Houston Space Center, and the Houston Ballet, among others. Mike Waterman, president of Visit Houston, told Adweek, “We’re trying to provide new visitors with experiences that are memorable, and therefore, marketable. We sat down and thought about the 12 most interesting venues that would entice people to watch the content. The hope is that once people see the content, they’ll be so excited that they’ll book a ticket to Houston.”
3. Marriott Hotels
Marriott Hotels launched its Teleporter 4-D sensory experience in September 2014, which allowed users to take a journey through VR versions of London and Hawaii, complete with motion, sounds, and even sprays of water to feel like the ocean. While the campaign was short-lived, it caught the attention of both tech and travel press, creating enough buzz for customers to want to book their next vacation at Marriott.
4. The North Face
In order to promote The North Face brand to its adventure-seeker audience, the company launched several VR experiences in 2015 at store locations in San Francisco, New York, and London. Its “The North Face: Climb” experience took users to new heights in Yosemite National Park and Moab, while “The North Face: Nepal” allowed users to experience winter in Nepal. The brand garnered lots of recognition as a leader in VR for the retail market.
5. Absolut Vodka
Absolut Vodka launched “Absolut Reality” in summer 2015 to offer live video streams to its customers who couldn’t get sought-after tickets to concerts such as the Bob Moses show in Brooklyn, N.Y. The use of drones and other enhanced video technology created a virtual experience so realistic that fans felt as if they could almost touch the stage. Not only did the experience solve a problem for customers not able to get tickets, but it also allowed the brand to reach a broader audience by partnering with the music market.
6. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia 2015
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia 2015 created “Mirror to the Soul,” a five-minute VR experience of the event that highlighted everything from backstage to front row seats at the show. By giving viewers from around the world access to the show helped bridge the gap between designers and brands and their consumers who often don’t get to be a part of the fashion-week conversation.
Launched in late 2014, Volvo Reality was the world’s first virtual reality test drive, created for users to experience the Volvo XC90 in a Vancouver landscape. The immersive experience allowed the company to put users in the driver’s seat months before the car was available in showrooms. The marketing campaign was so successful that Volvo reported reaching 238 million media impressions.
8. Savannah College of Art and Design
In spring 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia mailed 5,000, branded virtual reality headsets to students who were accepted into the school, but hadn’t yet enrolled. The VR experience immersed users into the SCAD campus, giving students a 360-degree, first-hand understanding of what college life at SCAD would be like. The school plans to expand its VR program by sending headsets to specific high schools and teachers as well as creating videos of university events such as the university fashion show.
9. McDonald’s Happy Meal VR
Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced that its Swedish location would be turning it’s Happy Meal boxes into foldable VR headsets. The promotion, which is being called Happy Goggles, essentially lets people purchase makeshift VR headsets. Viewers can play a ski game that’s fit for the whole family.
Back in 2015, Toms gave the traditional retail business a shot in the arm by introducing virtual reality to the mix. The philanthropic shoe company, which gives away a free pair of shoes for each pair that is purchased, created a VR experience of what it’s like to actually go on a shoe giving trip to Peru. It then setup nooks in retail stores where potential customers could view the VR experiences.
Gordon Meyer (@GordonMeyerjr) is Director of Marketing for YouVisit.
YouVisit is an immersive technology company powered by Aria, the leading enterprise platform that enables brands and organizations to engage and convert audiences through interactive 360 experiences.
YouVisit combines the power of Aria with an award-winning production studio to drive measurable results for over 800 clients across mobile, desktop, and VR.
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