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IMMERSED:
Virtual Reality in Marketing

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Effective marketing and brand design is, at its core, about one thing: Connection. That is, making your audience feel like active participants versus passive observers. Time and time again the most valuable companies are the ones that can foster the most connectedness and interactivity between users. Enter the connectedness experience of the future – Virtual Reality. For those chillin’ under a rock for the last half-decade, it’s come a long way from the Virtual Boy. VR has crossed fringe nerd culture and entered the realm of branding & marketing in a major way.

A BRIEF LOOK AT VR IN MARKETING

Back in 2014, Topshop Unique stood out at London Fashion Week by using VR to give their audience the full glory of the exclusive catwalk experience. In the same year, Marriott Hotels won countless bloggers attention with the #GetTeleported campaign, giving a 360 view of their suites in exotic environments. Perhaps most impressively, in March of 2015, Patrón used Occulus Rift (more on that later) to give a virtual tour of their tequila crafting process from their iconic ‘bee’s eye view’. You can watch the 2D version of The Art of Patron here.

While we at St8mnt understand the need for traditional media, these are all prime examples of taking that next step in interaction; A beautiful synthesis of video and web interactivity. So which method is right for you?

CHOICES, CHOICES

For this relatively new tech, there is a wide gamut of tools available in the shop. It all depends on the application that works best for you, your message, and, most importantly, your audience.

Google Cardboard
The low price point is a plus in itself. At $15.00-$29.95 a unit (individual retail price), this is easily the most affordable VR device of its kind and, as is typical with Google, it’s the most accessible since all it requires is a user’s smartphone. There are numerous quality games and apps utilizing it already. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to it in terms of virtual depth. It blocks peripheral vision but loses the 3D environment ‘wow factor’ because of this. Google cardboard isn’t the most impactful in terms of a spectacle at tradeshows, events, etc.

Samsung Gear VR
Samsung isn’t new to the VR game either. Their latest step in the smartphone VR revolution is the Samsung Gear VR. This collaboration with Oculus takes a major step forward in aesthetics. That $99 price point offers slightly more depth to the viewer and a sleek design that looks a bit more hi-tech and less like a quirky craft project. Even with this step up, it still suffers the same cons as the Google Cardboard model.

Oculus Rift
This is the device that is mostly responsible for the recent surge in VR excitement. The price point, now at $599.00 for preorder, isn’t going to break the bank, but is a bit hefty considering not much has been developed with Rift ’s full capacity in mind. That being said, it’s built to be compatible with practically any computer or gaming console and has already been flooring users at tradeshows across the world. Oculus has made enough buzz to suggest it’s future is bright as the major player in it’s space.

AN HONORABLE MENTION: AUGMENTED REALITY

If the examples of VR still seem a little grandiose there have been several effective uses of Augmented Reality (AR) in marketing. What AR lacks in the larger-than-life effect, it makes up for it in interactivity. AR (to help clear it up for the non tech-savvy) refers to interacting with virtual content in the real world. With AR, the difference between the real environment and the virtual elements are easily distinguishable by the user. This can be seen at work in the following campaigns:

Jack Link’s Sasquatch
Kit Kat’s AR Gig
IKEA’s AR Catalog

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

“One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people,” remarked Mark Zuckerberg back in March 2014. This was obviously more than words considering Facebook purchased VR titan Oculus Rift for a cool $2 billion dollars. Figureheads of technology culture point to Virtual Reality as not just a cool trend but a revolution in the digital world. The New York Times impactful 360 warzone documentary “Aleppo” is a fine example.

That video gave us chills. The VR platform allows you to be truly present, and instead of a fleeting moment (a vine, image, or snippet), provide the viewer with a true experience.

VR will not only be a spectacle but a way to powerfully tell your story in a way that feels all-inclusive and experiential. Imagine what a technology this robust could do for you and your brand. We’ll be tapping our brains here at ST8MNT to answer that same question.

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