Marketing is an ever-changing landscape nowadays, mainly due to the new tech that is coming out every few years that brings new opportunities to reach people. I’ve been taking a look at one of these developments, Virtual Reality or VR for short. This concept has actually been around for over a century with the first concepts mocked up in the mid-1800s by Charles Wheatstone and David Brewster. However, it only became a potential household item many years later when Nintendo and SAGA threw their hats in the ring and took a crack at it for a home gaming console. Sega’s VR glasses concept came out in 1993 but was later dropped due to the technology not being up to scratch. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy came out in 1995 but was a commercial flop and the product was discontinued in the same year. This was mainly attributed to the restricted colour range of red and black and story’s being circulated of headaches and nausea.
VR could have ended up having a similar life span to the Google Glass, originally a great concept but poorly executed in its creation leading to it being the butt-end of jokes and memes. Fortunately this is no longer the case, with developments in the last few years in technology leading to new phones being powerful enough to run VR systems which Samsung took full advantage packaging their Samsung Gear VR headset in deals with their Samsung S7 model. There are also more expensive headsets such as the ‘Oculus Rift’ made viral by pewdiepie. The HTC Vive has also been widely renowned being sold by Steam as their main VR system for PC gamers.
Now, this is all well and good saying how VR is one of the growing platforms that is really coming into its own but how is it best used in marketing and within its future? Well, we need to look no further than arguably the company who has run the best marketing campaigns in history, Coca-Cola, who thought their campaign completely changed the look of a Santa from green to his now iconic red to fit in with their campaign. Coke created a VR sleigh ride to be used in Poland to promote that they were a modern company open to new ideas. It also gained large praise for their quality of animation and its use to engage everyone from children to adults. This was clever as to be honest who doesn’t want to take a ride on Christmas Eve in Santa’s sleigh. This marketing was timed perfectly as Coke was already running their classic Christmas TV advertising campaign so it integrated well into their already established marketing mix.
MacDonald’s are also giving VR a fair crack using the power of modern phones and wanting to reuse their products more than once. The fast food giant allowed their iconic happy meal boxes to be reshaped so they can be taken apart and re-assembled into a makeshift VR headset, which can be used with a phone to play MacDonald’s VR games. This is similar to Google Cardboard which is another budget VR experience using a cardboard cut-out to create a rudimentary VR headset. This is being trailed in Sweden at the moment however we are all hoping it gets set out to be a multinational campaign.
Now we look at a company you may have never heard off, Boursin is a cheese company who won the Masters of Marketing Award 2015 for their use of VR. They got over 120K views on their video and took it on a six-city tour to shopping centres gaining engagement with the public by sitting them down and sharing the VR experience with them. This just goes to show that VR is not only for the big companies but could be accessed by most to create a successful campaign.
VR could be seen by those examples to have a budding future in the marketing industry and that is completely right. However, there is so much potential there that we have barely scratched the surface of what VR can really do, from Topshop giving viewings though VR of their exclusive catwalks to the The Marriot Hotel company allowing customers to view sites from there different hotels with spectacular views before choosing where they would like to stay. There are developments and changes with how VR will be used happening every day that allows marketers to reach their audience demographic in more engaging ways. We’re excited to see what will be brought next in this hi-octane series of development and will be looking for ways to potentially introducing it to everyday marketing in the near future.
Written by: Dan