Virtual reality ranks alongside artificial intelligence as one of the most over-used marketing phrases in 2016.
So far brand experiences have varied in quality, but a few companies have successfully used VR to good effect, rather than as a gimmick.
Here are five brands who have made a good fist of VR in its current form.
Mercedes filmed Instagram influencer Kelly Lund and Loki (his wolfdog) during a snowy outdoors trip in Colorado.
The film features Mercedes’ GLS sport utility vehicle, availble in 2017, and is artfully directed, creating a stylised portrait of Kelly’s lifestyle that shows the brand off in a rugged but aspirational light.
This video has seen significant engagement on social media in 2D, and the 3D video is available on YouTube or via the Mercedes VR app with Google Cardboard.
The North Face
Sticking with the outdoors, this is an example of 360-degree video that really matches brand identity.
The North Face has created several 360-degree video experiences with Jaunt VR, starting in March 2015, following a trek through Yosemite National Park and Moab in Utah.
This video can again be watched using Google Cardboard and an Android app, but was also showcased in some US North Face stores using Oculus.
Experiencing stark and beautiful wilderness in the context of purchasing outdoors wear is a natural fit.
Other North Face films include the one below, shot in Nepal. The atmosphere is similar to the Mercedes example above and makes an impact, even on YouTube player just scrolling around with your mouse.
“The Art of Patrón” is another 360-degree video experience that enhances an already strong brand identity.
Patrón worked with creative agency Firstborn to create an Oculus experience for a tequila festival in 2015.
The video is also available on the Patrón website, and as a regular 2D, non-interactive video on YouTube (see below).
Of course, using VR as part of experiential or event marketing is a common tactic and seeks to create good brand recognition by giving consumers their first such immersive experience.
The film itelf is notable for giving a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the product, a solid use case for artisanal or high quality consumer goods.
Toms’ flagship store in Venice, California experimented with Samsung VR, offering customers the chance to experience a trip to a Peruvian village.
The film shows the charitable side of Toms, as it gives out free shoes to children.
Toms founder Blake Mycoskie also gives some thoughts on the utility of VR in stores, in a video from USA Today.
Here’s another example of VR for experiential marketing, as part of a McDonald’s roadshow during the restaurant’s Farm Forward campaign across the UK.
Samsung Gear was used to offer 360-degree video, telling the story of UK produce from farms to preparation at McDonald’s restaurants.
Changing perceptions of a brand is something that can be aided by such an immersive technology.
Additionally, an Oculus VR game was produced, allowing people to drive a tractor during a potato harvest.
This experience is something a little more sophisticated than many brand VR implementations, given the use of a controller (steering wheel) and therefore an input element.
The game was simple enough, but something memorable for those experiencing the McDonald’s roadshow.
Conor McVeigh, director of suppy chain at McDonald’s UK, told Marketing Week that VR could be used to “scale up” transparency efforts and that VR is at a “tipping point” as realistic content can now be developed.
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