Once the stuff of science fiction movies, virtual reality (VR) has been making it’s way into mainstream over the past five years.
The revolutionary Oculus Rift VR headset kicked off the trend in 2012 (albeit, with a €600 price tag).
However, with the release of the €20 Google Cardboard VR viewer in 2014, which is essentially just cardboard and two lenses, anybody with a smartphone can delve into a virtual world. Now, there are thousands of virtual reality app games free to download and even YouTube supports VR videos.
With it’s increasing popularity, it’s the brands that are early adopters that are capitalising on this new immersive medium.
Here are some of, in our opinion, the coolest examples of VR for marketing.
1. Volvo – Virtual Reality Test Drive
In 2014, Volvo became the first company to launch a campaign on the Google cardboard headset. They teamed up with an Oscar winning VFX studio and Google to release the Volvo Reality app along with a branded Volvo VR viewer kit so users could take the Volvo XC90 for a breathtaking test drive in the mountains.
With it’s innovative VR campaign, any consumer anywhere in the world, can instantly test drive Volvo’s latest offering without the cost of facilitating actual test drives. With Toyota and Fiat following suit with their own virtual test drive apps, the medium is quickly becoming the norm in the auto industry.
2. Netflix – ‘Stranger Things’ 360 Experience
In 2016, Netflix frightened the daylights out the cast of their hit sci-fi horror series Stranger Things, by taking them off the set and into an elaborate virtual reality world so they could experience the horror of the show for real. Needless to say, their reactions were a viral hit and racked up half a million YouTube hits in just a month.
As a bonus, Netflix also released the same VR YouTube video that fans at home could watch on their Google cardboard headsets. Is this the future of TV and movie trailers? It looks like it, especially with the horror genre. Creators of 2016’s upcoming sequel Blair Witch also released it’s own 90 second VR interactive advertisement to huge success.
3. Coca-Cola – Recycled VR Viewer
As an incentive to buy their 12 can packs, Coca-Cola made the cardboard packaging foldable so you can turn it into makeshift VR goggles similar to Google Cardboard. Although the headsets looked somewhat crude, they worked. Coca-Cola’s idea sparked a trend in advertising, with big names like McDonald’s following suit with their Happy Meal boxes. It just goes to show, that sometimes it’s worth thinking inside the box.
4. Merrell VR Trailscape
American footwear company Merrell teamed up with Framestore VR Studio to create adrenaline fuelled, death-defying experience. Combining an Oculus Rift headset and real life props, Merrell convinced users they were crossing a rickety bridge on a cliff edge in the midst of a rockslide. While it’s inconceivable and completely dangerous to bring consumers to the centre of a rockslide high in the Rocky Mountains, Merrell and Framestore VR used the magic of VR to bring them to the centre of the action.
5. Marriott Hotels – Virtual Honeymoon
Marriott Hotels, with the help of model/TV presenter Louise Roe, sent newlyweds on a virtual honeymoon of a lifetime! They ask newlywed couples outside New York City Hall if they wanted to experience a VR honeymoon. They were brought into a special designed installation, which incorporated live action video and CGI on VR headsets, combined with 4D sensory effects like wind and ocean spray.
More and more travel companies are using VR as a lure, letting tourists explore a far away destinations or their resorts in hopes that it will sway their decision when it comes to booking trips abroad.