Ever since watching Natalie Wood and Christoper Walken in the movie Brainstorm, Virtual Reality has fascinated me. If you haven’t seen the 80’s SciFi fantasy, it’s a cautionary tale about what can happen if/when we are able to truly see inside other people’s emotions (hope, love, sex, and even death itself) and record and feel their lives. Tell me a cautionary tale and I’m all but guaranteed to want to try it.
Turns out too that, like most of what I watched as a kid, science fiction is now becoming science fact. Virtual Reality is here and with it, the ability to experience real emotions, empathy, and even touch to feel and create things in a virtual world.
And so I’ve waited patiently since first seeing the movie. Trying the clunky hardware created in the 90’s and the giant spinning ball for gaming I nearly threw up in at SXSW in 2009, Virtual Reality is finally coming of age. With Facebook’s purchase of the Kickstarter record-breaker Oculus for $2 Billion, the dawn of Virtual Reality is here. And brands need to be ready to get their story out in VR, or the virtual world will quickly pass them by.
Why You Need to be Ready for Virtual Reality Marketing
Everyone will soon have a VR headset – Right now, today, scalability due to price and availability is preventing VR from being ubiquitous. But, starting this Christmas, the Oculus and Samsung devices will be the hot gift. The VR headsets will begin to make their way into homes and onto the faces of kids. Used for gaming first, VR will disperse out, driven by user reviews and curiosity, to short stories, meetings, business, theme parks, followed by TV and film. Think that the $200+ price point will be prohibitive to mass adoption? How about $30 then for Google cardboard and your current mobile phone?
Reaching millennials – New tech is the millennial’s playground. Especially if mom and dad haven’t adopted yet. Then, as millennial’s adoption increases, so will content for gaming, Internet, concerts, and movies which will be designed to be viewed in the richest media experience to date. Get in now to reach this most important demographic before it’s “polluted” by 30-45 year-olds. Per a Deep Focus survey of 1,203 young adults, 51 percent had heard about Oculus and similar devices, with 41 percent signaling they were interested in trying one out.
Adapt or perish – Make no mistake, if you’re just starting to think about VR as a strategy, you’re already behind the curve. For fashion, food and beverage, travel, lifestyle, financial services, philanthropy and more, VR will allow your audience to engage more deeply with your band’s story. By being an early adopter, you will be able to shape the story of Virtual Reality too. Heck, you may even end up with some additional press as an early VR marketer too. Yes, production is still expensive but camera costs are already coming down as scrappy production peeps create their own version.
More emotional – Empathy breeds emotion – the most important state coveted by everyone in marketing. By immersing in a Virtual Reality story experience, audiences will be completely surrounded. Viewers will be more likely to “feel” rather than passively watch a story while being engulfed in it. Deeper engagement, more senses involved, and a richer experience will lead to a more empathetic and satisfying experience for both production and audience.
Look, the truth is we’re actually a bit behind the curve at emotion studios and are just now starting to fold Virtual Reality into campaigns for clients. That’s why we are reminding you now that VR is the next mobile phone for engaging with brand – except you can’t be mobile and be in VR… yet. But more on Augmented Reality coming soon.
In fact, we are so bullish on Virtual Reality for brand storytelling, maybe it’s time to do a remake of Brainstorm. But in VR, of course. But this time, the only cautionary tale is: you better be really ready for virtual.