Brand Union

Insight Strategy

How VR can go from fad to phenomenon for brands

Jessica Lehmann

May 19 2017

Both entertainment and technology play pivotal roles in allowing brands to connect with people. From the first TV ad for a luxury watch that aired just over 75 years ago, to the now commonplace practice of tailoring content in real-time and delivering customer services via Twitter.

With virtual reality becoming the tech-du-jour, brands are trying to experiment with the medium and see what’s possible. (Emphasis on the word ‘experiment’). Activations currently tend to be on offer at specific events, with limited audiences. The more successful ones, from Samsung Gear’s bicoastal “The Night Before” holiday execution that offered users a 360 degree ride with Santa in his sleigh, to Verizon’s abstract, music-centered and somewhat isolating “The Melody of Dust” VR experience at SXSW, are garnering some attention and buzz on social media and in the press. But they are not yet enabling truly innovative forms of interaction. As the technology becomes more widespread and companies gain more of a handle on how they can leverage VR, agencies must help to guide clients on how to leverage VR in a way that aligns with their brand and helps them to achieve their business goals.

Jumping off the bandwagon

Smartphone adoption has played a huge role in enabling brands to build strong relationships with customers. It’s the immediacy and quality of content and the convenience that smartphones enable that has helped brands to do this, though, rather than gimmicky activations. Banner ads are despised, and email marketing blasts are left unopened because they feel like an intrusion into a space that is highly personal. People invite brands into that space when they’re providing something useful or enjoyable. This wasn’t always something that companies understood, though, and when apps first became a thing companies rushed to make them to show they were current and innovative. Most were used once and then left dormant on people’s screens before being deleted to make space for photos, or productivity and gaming apps.

 

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