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American doctors use VR to treat chronic pain in their patients.
Wired
IT Production

VR/AR for Marketing & Branding: Weird is the New Creative

Imagination is more important than knowledge according to Albert Einstein.

In marketing and branding imagination is sometimes even more important than analytics and strategic planning. Remember the marketing manager of Blendtec who decided to advertise their blenders by destroying iPhones? Remember how those YouTube videos went viral?

The thing is creative is often weird. Want it or not, you can’t extract the unknown, funny, and odd out of creative. And you don’t need to! There is even an award for the weirdest social media campaigns today where people who create the history of the civilization in 15 minutes get awards. In case you needed a brief overview of the entire world’s fate watch this:

 

Back to the topic. People always needed and will always need bread and circuses.  Yet today they need weirder and more unexpected things.

Weird can be defined as “fantastic, supernatural, magic” – and these are the features your customers are expecting from you today. Good news for you: virtual and augmented reality technology is a never-ending source of creative and, what is more important, weird ideas.

 

IMMERSION

What the heck is this immersion? It’s a complete mental involvement in some process. Video games promised us immersion when they just appeared but, admit it, only virtual reality gave us what we call “total and absolute immersion.”

Immersion basically means the disappearance of the present self and the absolute merge with the new character. You can be anyone anywhere.  Synchrony in perception and feelings is thrilling, and there are few people who would say “No” to such an overwhelming experience. Especially today when the experiential economy is in bloom, customers search for new emotions, sensations, and, experiences, for sure.

That is why marketers and brand managers place a bet on VR because VR is 100% experiential and personalized. Any marketing campaign which uses virtual reality application is doomed to attract the attention of customers.

Brands use full immersion of VR to shock, surprise and inspire viewers. Thus, Amnesty International gave random strangers the opportunity to visit Aleppo Syria and meet refugees face to face. The effect was stunning:

The number of people who signed it for fundraising increased by 16%!

When being immersed, you can’t escape feelings, you can’t get distracted from the experience. You are in for 100%. Isn’t it what all marketers want?

 

DEVIRTUALIZATION

Forget all those top 11 books every CMO must read. You won’t find the latest trends in those books because technology is what shapes those trends. And technological progress is not just dynamic, it’s totally crazy – you can miss an update just being offline for 6 hours!

Devirtualization appeared on the hype virtual reality. What is it?  In short, it’s the creation of virtual experience for viewers and then its recreation in real life. It’s a total mind game played inside your customers’ heads. It’s better than quantum leaps and travel through virtual dimensions.

Some brands, such as Renault address virtual reality to consult companies to create an amazing experience for their clients. They used devirtualization to blow customers’ minds completely and make them remember this experience for ever and ever.

 

STORYLIVING 

All brands tell stories, the best brands tell the best stories to their customers. Just read Tesla’s and Apple’s stories: they are emotional,  thought-provoking and 100% motivational.

Creating a catchy story about your brand and your product is building a semantic structure of reality for your customers. How can a customer realize that the brand is a perfect choice if not learning about cases, values, and stories in general?

How can you choose a restaurant not listening to the stories about their exclusive cuisine?

Yet, virtual reality changed everything: VR goggles destroyed the very concept of a narrator once and for all. Today brands don’t only tell stories to their clients – they let customers EXPERIENCE them fully. That is how customers become active participants in these stories.   

 

MULTISENSORY INPUT

Virtual reality is a unique tool for experiential marketing thanks to a multi-sensory input. And you can’t deny the power of experiential marketing for the promotion of the brand: when you feel the brand, when you communicate the brand when you make the brand tangible, you are more likely to choose this brand.

Traditional advertising uses visual and auditory stimuli to create images in customers’  minds. Virtual reality can immerse a potential client in the environment where he/she will see, hear, smell ( yes, it’s possible), move ( muscles memory will also be involved).

Merrell, the company that sells outdoor clothing and footwear decided to make customers feel the rush in veins from crossing the mountain bridge.

 

EMPATHY

Silicon Valley is not trying to sell you software today, it’s selling you empathy. Some critics say that there is no killer app for VR that is why VR doesn’t see any real hype. Yet, VR is claimed to be an “empathy machine” -the ultimate tool for this.

VR enthusiasts say that with the help of such a transference VR can make us “more sensitive, more connected, and more human after all!” Traditional media- text, video or photos show other people’s lives only partially. VR is what helps to get inside other people’s heads ( however threatening it might sound).

It seems that positioning VR as more than a gaming and porn tool is not just a good PR, it’s a real thing. That is why United Nations have created the whole group responsible for virtual reality.

United Nations gives you the list of movies you can preview in VR to learn “how it is to be a Roma woman” for example. Yet the majority of companies still don’t know how to wire VR inside their operations that is why they often search for VR consulting.

 

VISUALIZATION

Seeing is believing. This old proverb is as topical for online stores as never before. Modern buyers want to buy goods from their bedroom ( in 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021) yet they want to be 100% sure that these goods fit them perfectly well. Visualization in AR gives customers a unique chance to preview jewelry on them or try on makeup in AR. Augmented reality for retail is the solution number one for those who want to create a WOW effect in customers and not only buyers!

 

Tourists also want to see where they are heading when paying for an expensive tour to the Maldives.

 

Will there be a swimming pool in the hotel? How does the beach look? Tom Kook, a tour operator from England decided to show their customers their future tourist destination before sending them there.

 

HOOKING  

What emotions are the most memorable for clients-positive or negative?

The right answer is the strongest. Saturated emotions shape the brightest memories that hook customers. Think about it: all your clients are exposed to hundreds or thousands of ads daily.

Only the weirdest the most provoking experiences can hook them on a deep level so that they will recreate this experience later!

Virtual and augmented reality technology give people such experience creating real memory slots inside human memory. They hook clients making them want to share this experience with friends and relatives. Tell about it on their social media pages. That is how Pepsi got millions of views online:

 

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY OPTION

Modern customers who spend billions of dollars buying online ASK FOR MORE, of course. They are sure they deserve more information and more proof before they click “Add to the cart.” Augmented reality technology will give them this possibility at last.

Do you have a cellphone or a tablet? TRY BEFORE

YOU BUY any piece of furniture, electronics or even jewelry!

That is how to TRY BEFORE YOU BUY OPTION became a necessity rather than a perk for online stores. Thus, ALLO, one big electronics retailers created an actual virtual store with a cozy sophisticated environment to let their customers see home appliances before buying them:

 

Brands selling online are in over their heads to impress customers with the unique opportunity to try products before spending money. That’s why Lacoste created the app that let clients try their favorite crocodile sneakers in just a few clicks. 

Marketers embraced VR/AR/MR industry with a huge enthusiasm and borrowed a number of concepts. Here are some of them:

 

Yes, Weird is the New Creative

Do you agree that today being creative is not enough for a brand? To be noticed, to make the content go viral, to generate real buzz around its name today a brand needs to be insanely creative and, let’s be honest, a bit weird.

When a brand wants to stand out from the crowd of competitors, it might try lots of old-school methods.

But how can you reach a different destination using the same paths?  Virtual and augmented reality is a modern source of the most amazing and the most creative ideas in the world. After all, as Albert Einstein said “knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!”

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