Virtual reality (VR) offers a huge PR and marketing opportunity. VR viewers see a 360-degree, three-dimensional videos through a specially-designed headset such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, a cardboard device distributed by Google, or other models. Viewers can also see 360-degree videos online, although VR headsets provide a far more engrossing experience. Virtual reality is immersive, impactful, memorable and novel. It enables marketers to greatly enhance engagement and awareness.
“Brands are definitely thinking of virtual reality and augmented reality,” Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC North America, according to Adverting Age. “Mark Zuckerberg has made it really clear this is a priority for Facebook. So if it is for Facebook, we have to take it seriously.”
Seeing examples of innovative, compelling VR videos may be the best way for marketers and PR pros to learn how to produce their own. These are several outstanding examples.
Mercedes filmed Instagram influencer Kelly Lund and Loki (his wolfdog) during a snowy outdoors trip in Colorado. The company likely sees its new GLS sport utility vehicle as the real star of the show. The superbly shot video creates a stylized portrait of Kelly’s lifestyle that portrays the brand in a rugged but aspirational light, points out Ben Davis at Econsultancy. The video enjoyed substantial 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
The North Face created several 360-degree video experiences with Jaunt VR, starting in March 2015, tracking a trek through Yosemite National Park and Moab in Utah. Naturally, an experience in a remote wilderness is a good fit for an outdoor clothing brand like North Face. It offers an impressive experience, even on a YouTube player just scrolling around with your mouse. The video can again be watched using the Google Cardboard and an Android app, but was also showcased in some US North Face stores using Oculus. North Face also produced other VR films, including one shot in Nepal.
PAUL MCCARTNEY'S PERFORMANCE
Jaunt produced a 360 Video Recording of Sir Paul McCartney’s performance at Candlestick Park. You can download the app on iOS or Android to experience the event. “Allowing the audience to go on stage with you as a musician is a great idea. This got no end of publicity – not that Mr. McCartney needs it of course!” says mbryonic in its selection of the best uses of virtual reality for marketing.
Disney released a 360 VR fly-through experience from its upcoming Star Wars movie. Viewers feel like they are inside one of the speeders during battle. This content was also released using Facebook’s new 360 videos feature, which although not technically a VR experience allowed the promotion to reach a wider audience.
The experience provides the audience a sampling of the Star Wars movie that’s superior to the conventional film trailer. “It’s also an intelligent re-use of assets that would have already been created as part of the production of the movie,” mbryonic notes.
The Tom’s flagship store in Venice, CA, has a “virtual reality chair” where visitors can try the headset. They are transported to a remote village in Peru where they experience a giving trip, starting with the drive into the village. Children approach as they swivel in the chair. “They’re incredibly happy and grateful for the gift. It’s emotional, memorable, and you want to tell others about it. It takes people closer than ever before possible, to understanding the impact of Tom’s mission,” writes Michelle Greenwald, CEO of Inventours, in Forbes.
Bottom Line: Marketing experts tout virtual reality videos as an innovative marketing and PR technique due to its ability fully immerse viewers in experience. Watching and learning from successful VR programs can help marketing and PR pros develop ideas for their own VR promotions. The key to success: an immersive experience that transcends standard video.