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The best of VR and branded content so far

Not that long ago, Pokemon Go has caused a stir with an augmented reality game, which excited both consumers and brands. What about another emerging technology – virtual reality?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said this has the potential of being “the most social platform.” The race to reap early-adopter benefits is on for marketers. 

What is so special about VR? 

The immersive nature of this technology is a key differentiator. This is the next level compared to other forms of visual communications such as illustrations and videos.  

However, one of the two key factors that helps this technology take off is content. This is where brands jump in and start thinking about content creation for the new platform. Let’s now look at some successful attempts so far.  

Storytelling

This goes back to our innate desire for stories, and of course, applies to any good communications. With the help of VR, the narratives and characters come to life in front of your eyes. 

The New York Times has produced a VR app, which was deemed its most successful product launch. It even has a VR editor, just like in any normal media company. 

Source: NY Times
Source: NY Times

HBO’s famous Games of Thrones series also has its own VR experience. Although most brands don’t have fiction-like stories to tell, they do have real life anecdotes (e.g. from clients) which can be turned into engaging VR content. 

Provide value

Some brands have managed to cut through the noise by providing value in a novel way. For instance, Hacienda Patrón – a tequila distillery – has created a VR experience to showcase their production process. “The Art of Patrón” provides both educational and entertainment value, which is often hard to achieve with other forms of marketing. 

New York University tried to stand out from other education institutions by allowing students admitted into their engineering program to have a virtual tour of Mars. This provides value by showing what the school can do for students and the skillsets they’re likely to gain. 

Source: Digiday
Source: Digiday

Product demonstration

Used as part of the sales process, VR can help make purchase decisions easier for potential customers. 

Existing technology such as interactive showrooms doesn’t allow for the full immersive experience. For instance, IKEA has built a virtual kitchen that goes beyond their usual store display. The VR experience lets users modify, interact and try out various home furnishing solutions. 

Source: Brandchannel
Source: Brandchannel

Another noteworthy use of VR as product demo is from Marriott Hotels. They have offered newlywed couples the chance to experience what it’d be like to stay in their accommodation during the honeymoon. Moreover, the hotel chain also used VR to show how their offerings fit into the whole travel experience, by “teleporting” users to beautiful destinations.

Avoid the hype fallacy

To truly make VR work for your brand, you need to pay attention to user experience. The normal content standards still apply, such as relevant, engaging, useful etc. 

Otherwise, we might see a new breed of ad blockers developed for VR devices, just like the need to avoid branded content on existing web channels.