Described as a tool that could be the much-needed innovation in advertising (Source), virtual reality is emerging as a powerful marketing vehicle to disrupt the online advertising industry in 2016. For an industry constantly questioning the potency of its content, 56 - 60% of marketers regard creating engaging material as the biggest challenge in planning campaigns. (Source).
The solution seems straightforward: enhance the customer experience and the content will be engaging by default. This is what industry experts deem as ‘experiential marketing’ and it’s considered extremely important for brand growth. A study by EventTrack in 2015 confirmed this, with 98% of its participants expressing a higher inclination towards buying a particular product after it was promoted through an experiential marketing campaign.
It is worthwhile to note that various companies are gearing up for a future in virtual or augmented reality. At a first glance the much awaited Oculus Rift will be released in March 2016. Purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in cash and stock, Oculus Rift will enable social media apps to incorporate specs and technology to allow the construction and promotion of virtual reality content. Furthermore, other companies like Microsoft (HoloLens), Samsung (Gear VR), Sony and HTC currently have their headsets in production. The most successful VR contraption so far has been the affordable Google Cardboard. This has made virtual reality more tangible for content creators than ever before.
Brands of various sizes have incorporated virtual reality in their advertising efforts. Advisers such as Digi-Capital predicts that the virtual reality market will blossom into a $150 billion business by 2020. So, is it the right time to get a piece of this technology for your brand? We certainly think so. Let’s look at how virtual reality campaigns can amplify your marketing efforts:
- Give Your Audiences a Ticket to Your Brand’s Universe
You can place your audiences anywhere in the world with virtual reality, without actually paying for their transport, accommodation and meals. Sounds cheap? In a way it might, but think about how much better it is to put money into creating high-quality visuals to enhance your brand’s look and feel. Check out Nike’s augmented reality campaign that revolved around the launch of their latest Hypervenom II sneakers.
Using the famous soccer player Neymar Jr. they created a 360-degree video with him as their campaign ambassador. Developed by visual effects expert RyanWhitehead360, the video invited viewers to step into the shoes of Neymar Jr. (quite literally) as he dribbles past opponents on the field. The campaign was launched on YouTube as one of the channel’s first virtual reality experiences (June 2015) gaining 4.5 million views in total. By December 2015, orders for Nike footwear rose by 9%. The total annual revenue for the brand totalled $7.9 billion which was 15% higher than the previous year.
- Gain Brand Awareness by Entertaining Your Target Audiences the Right Way
Ever felt the thrill of a rollercoaster ride? If you were part of Boursin Cheese’s audience sample you would have experienced an exciting adventure without fastening your seat belts. Boursin was interested in getting the attention of younger customers with a virtual reality graphic animation that allowed audiences to fly inside a fridge.
In addition to this, the fact that smartphones and tablets accounted for 45% of all e-commerce transactions in the UK (Econsultancy) helped Boursin to remain confident, while 5,097 people tested their game out. Hashtagged as #BoursinSensorium, a series of 6-second clips were viewed 70,000 times on YouTube and 450,000 times on Facebook. Boursin’s brand awareness rose by 62%, with 36% of their sample audiences converting to regular customers (BEcause Brand Experience news). This proves that knowing your target audience's preferences in entertainment coupled with an immersive brand experience can get you the awareness you need.
- Creating an Effective VR Campaign Shows That You Care about Good Storytelling
By getting your target audiences to enter the world of your brand, you can then go all out with building a powerful narrative that will make the experience even more palpable. Take the example of Dos Equis, a brand known for its suave mascot named ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’.
[Image: Dos Equis]
In October 2014, the brand aimed to launch their latest line of ‘XX Lager’ in a grand manner. With the timeframe of 2 months for the campaign Dos Equis creative Director, Jim Hord began thinking about a theme that could tie up the VR idea with a real-life event. He thought along the lines of how “things get more interesting when you put on a mask” - bringing in the fact that VR headsets resemble masks. Making this piece of technology relevant, the team at Havas Worldwide New York then crafted virtual reality video that had actors playing characters with scripted dialogues. Viewers could enter a party where they would be spoken to, and they had a special task - to find a black book.
The aim of this campaign was to equip 21 bars around the Southwest region of North America with headsets, that would play the video to a sample audience of 2000 bar-goers. Thanks to word of mouth the audience size grew to 6000, earning the web-version of video 16 million hits within a fortnight. What helped to bolster this was the addition of 1,100 Instagram hashtags relating to #TMIMTW (The Most Interesting Man in the World). Finally, the ingredient that made the campaign really effective was having the virtual reality party came to life. Guests were consequently invited to a masquerade ball, which in turn promoted the VR video further.
The Dos Equis campaign exemplifies how effective rich narratives can be when it comes to gaining the attention of audiences. In the age of the digital ‘disruption’, the brand attracted people without interrupting their daily lives in any way. The high quality of visual content, storytelling and an overarching theme that was true to their brand identity, made the VR experience memorable.
- Let Audiences Dream Big - With a Sense of Realism
Ever wish you could shut your eyes and land up in your dream destination? Marriott Hotels took this idea and flew with it. With their #TravelBrilliantly campaign that was kick-started in September 2015, they were the first to tap into virtual reality in the travel industry. Marriott also launched Samsung’s first virtual reality technology (the Samsung Gear VR) which was effective in generating hype.
Setting up a 4D booth in New York to begin their campaign, they invited their guests to step into a travel adventure where they were transported to places like Maui and Hawaii. After 51% of participants voted to make the VR experience a permanent feature at Marriott Hotels, the company introduced ‘VRoom Service’ and ‘VR Postcards’ to selected countries.
This feature allows guests 24-hour access to Samsung VR headsets that give them the experience of slipping into the point of view of a traveller who relays his or her stories to the viewer. Marriott Hotels wanted to promote the concept of how travelling changes lives, adding a new layer to the traditional realm of tourism.
[Image: Marriott Hotels]
The idea of allowing customers to experience a particular destination before purchasing holiday deals with virtual reality was then adopted by other travel-tourism companies. Thomas Cook (UK) took this approach with their customers and so did Flight Centre in Singapore.
Located in Cecil Street, Flight Centre constructed virtual tours of hotels, properties and sight-seeing destinations for their clients.
Tourism Australia, thanks to advertising agency Clemenger BBDO, took their first step in revamping the perceptions of the nation with 17 videos starring Chris Hemsworth. With a budget of $40 million (Mumbrella) each video sought to show viewers how it feels to be in Australia, instead of getting them to admire the beauty of it. The campaign focused on featuring coastal experiences of the country. This was done to beat the competition Australia is currently facing with destinations such as Hawaii. The ‘How it Feels’ campaign will see the release of its first videos in Asia Pacific and USA this April.
[Image: Huffington Post]
The Shangri-La Group started offering immersive experiences to last year, with their 360-degree videos in their 94 hotels. Rather than using the technology to promote travelling, it was used for promotional material at trade fairs, sales meetings and events.
- Utilize the Power of Nostalgia by Recreating Memories
One of the most successful virtual reality marketing strategies in Asia was the ‘Drive Back in Time’ campaign by Audi Singapore. Celebrating SG50 in October 2015, Audi created VR videos that allowed people to drive around the iconic areas of Singapore in 1965. By October 2015, Audi’s VR app was in full throttle. Captured in their campaign video, Singaporeans who lived in the country during the pre-independence era sat in the latest Audi A6 model and were given the newly released LG G4 smartphone. They were driven around Singapore, viewing the country as it was when they were in their youth.
The touching campaign culminated into an open-to-public heritage event held at The Fullerton Hotel, where people had the chance to try out Audi’s ‘SG50 Time Machine’ app. Apart from making the end of 2015 a big year for Singapore’s SG50 celebrations, Audi hit a record high of sales that quarter, delivering 2000 vehicles to car buyers in the country (Source).
In Full View
By taking inspiration from the examples listed, we can see how powerful virtual reality content can be when it comes to immersing your audiences in the world of your brand. VR can allow your audiences to dream big and associate your brand with a positive message.Think about what experience your brand could offer, which your target audience would have no access to otherwise. Additionally, VR can bring a great deal of realism to your campaign, forcing you to be mindful of what you want your audiences to feel as they live through the experience. How valuable would this experience be? Is it emotional or educational?
Considering the need for event marketing to be dynamic and interesting, you can extend the world of your brand to attendees and let them walk away with an exhilarating experience, especially when they try out a VR app. On the analytics side of things, consumer data gathered from VR content offers advertisers a reliable way to track viewability, which can be challenging in the real world. Bypassing the hurdle of re-creating realities for audiences to experience, developing apps for virtual reality campaigns offer marketers an avenue to build effective storytelling to promote their brands.
Want to launch innovative campaigns that set you apart from your competitors? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (+65) 6653 8060 today!