Last year, Samsung released its Gear VR – launching a wave of consumer-friendly virtual reality devices made available to the public. But we experiential marketers have been hitting up VR for a while now – and well before the gadget news. The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift headset has led the way for many brands, helping to create more engaging consumer experiences and reinvigorate how content is delivered. In fact, we don’t just feel that VR is a trend. We think it’s a revolution. Below are three of our favorite case studies in how VR has been a game changer within events. We hope these inspire big ideas for your next project…with Havas Luxe:
1. DOS EQUIS CREATES A ‘MOST INTERESTING’ VIRTUAL WORLD WITH OCULUS
As you may know – the Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man campaign is one of the best known campaigns by Havas (www.havasww.com). Everybody loves it.
For the last 3 years, Dos Equis has activated a Masquerade campaign—complete with performance artists, musicians and side-show performers—to get people drinking its Mexican lager at Halloween time. Last year’s two-month campaign culminated on Nov. 22 with a masquerade party for 2,000 guests, hosted at Generations Hall in New Orleans. The event was a theatrical, immersive, interactive consumer engagement where Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man, hip-hop artist Q-Tip and the Oculus Rift also made appearances.
Sticking with the masquerade theme, Dos Equis deployed high-tech Oculus Rift VR masks, or headsets, to engage consumers with its hyperbolic brand spokesman, the Most Interesting Man in the World. Beginning in September, the brand distributed 21 Oculus Rift headsets to bars in key markets, primarily in the Southwest, and at Halloween-themed events. The headsets transported participants into a large room in the Most Interesting Man’s stately manor where they were in the center of the action, which entailed acrobats, flame throwers, a medicine man, even a leopard. Noise-canceling headphones allowed them to pick up on the conversations taking place wherever their eyes took them during the two-and-a-half minute experience until finally the Most Interesting Man appeared and revealed that the OR-wearing bar patron was the guest of honor.
Importantly, Dos Equis’ campaign was extended online. For those who missed the OR experience (or who don’t hang out in bars), Dos Equis posted an interactive online video in which they chose the direction of the narrative with a click of their mouse in an effort to help the Most Interesting Man find his “little black book.” Additionally, an Instagram call out for UGC (user generated content such as instagram posts of a guest’s own masquerade snap) – using #XXMasquerade or upload them toXXMasquerade.com – earned a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for two to the grand finale Dos Equis Masquerade party. This is to say that no virtual reality activation – and no event – can today merely exist for the moment. A digital activation plan is critical. In this case, all targets were hit.
2. GLADE HOSTS A MULTISENSORY POP-UP IN NEW YORK CITY
To drive sales of their candles and give the brand a real-life presence, Geometry Global, Chicago hosted a pop-up for their client, GLADE, in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District – offering consumers a multisensory pop-up experience. The pop up was hosted last year during the holidays, with a space that featured five unique experience rooms inspired by Glade fragrances. The theme of the pop up was: “What Will You Feel?” – opening each of the five environments to uniquely impact the audience. For example, the “Energized” room (inspired by the Red Honeysuckle Nectar scent) offered an unexpectedly masculine twist with an Oculus Rift-based thrill ride to really take your experience of the scent to another sensory level.
In addition, a digital activation was included to tie UGC into the mix: each room featured an automatic photo activation with a countdown monitor above the camera. Throughout the experience, guests were invited to share photos with the hashtag #FeelGlade.
3. CHARITY WATER USES VR TO STIR UP DONATIONS AT THE MET IN NYC
Last December, 400 affluent guests, clad in their finest clothes, gathered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for an annual black-tie fundraising banquet benefiting Charity: WATER – a New York nonprofit that builds water projects around the world. But instead of dinner, they ended up taking a trip to a small village in Ethiopia. Though one can assume each member of the audience was well traveled, almost none of the guests had ever been to the East African country before. But the nine-minute virtual visit they were about to make would transport them there.
Right before the fundraising portion of the evening began, members of the organization passed around Samsung Gear VR headsets so attendees could watch a virtual reality movie documenting a week in the life of a 13-year-old girl, Selam, and her family who were getting clean water for the first time. The video begins with the girl—whose mother died a year earlier—collecting water she fears is full of leeches and diseases. It ends with a team of workers arriving by truck to drill the well before water gushes into the hot desert sky. Through the experience, guests could feel and see everything in the first person.
“I saw people take [their headsets] off with tears in their eyes,” said the filmmaker, Jamie Pent, from Charity: Water. At the end of the night, Charity: Water had raised $2.4MM, far exceeding their expectations – and proving beyond doubt that experience through virtual reality is effective at driving action – and perhaps even more so than almost any form of experiential marketing.
Though production costs for virtual reality remain high (depending, above all, on talent and video production costs) – they are increasingly becoming more ubiquitous, and as such – more affordable. Either way, the trend is here to stay.