Our Favourite VR Campaigns of 2016
10 minute read
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James Fox

2016 was not exactly the year virtual reality finally lived up to its promise and crossed into the mainstream, but there’s no doubt that the quality and quantity of both the platforms, and the experiences created for them, improved drastically.

Brands were certainly keen to experiment with the technology, with work usually seeming to settle into one of two areas:

Mobile Activated

Aiming for reach as much as PR generating content, some brands chose to put experiences in user’s hands by using mobile VR platforms. Google Cardboard presents a low-cost option to reach a large market, while Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream enter the scene at a higher price point but with the promise of higher quality.

Samsung - Bedtime Stories

A favourite of ours, Samsung Bedtime Stories let parents and children enjoy a VR journey together no matter how far apart they were. Built using individual apps for the Cardboard and Gear VR elements, and integrating voice chat, Bedtime Stories pushes at the boundaries of VR by introducing this collaborative element. The visual and sound design is lovely too.

McDonald's - Happy Goggles

McDonald's launched "Happy Goggles" in Sweden - a virtual reality viewer made from the happy meal box itself. This specific campaign was tied to "Sportlove", a Swedish recreational holiday, and allowed kids to enter a ski-themed VR game called "Slope Stars" once they put the goggles on.

Absolut - deadmau5

Absolut dropped a neat experience that coupled a fairly typical brand partnership – with electronic music artist deadmau5 – with a VR content experience that fans of the partner would actually enjoy.

Fans were invited to take part in a virtual journey where they guided deadmau5 to his gig on-time, navigating challenges along the way. Die-hard fans could even order a customised deadmau5 Cardboard headset.

Experiential

The release of the HTC Vive and product Oculus Rift, meant that motion-tracking and improved fidelity led to ever more immersive virtual experiences. Brave marketers were quick to take advantage of the newsworthy nature of this type of content, even if participation was somewhat limited by high price entry points for these systems.

Lockheed Martin - Field Trip to Mars

Money might not buy you love, but it will buy you a phenomenal VR experience and a Cannes Gold Lion. Not content with modelling 200 square miles of Mars, new screen technology was required to transform a school bus into an experience that took kids on an extra terrestrial field trip. Collaborative and group VR is definitely something we’ll be seeing more of.

Merrell's - TrailScape

To show where their new shoe could take customers, Merrell’s created a space for users to take a hike in virtual space - including a particularly "wobbly" bridge for them to cut across in order to find their way to the summit of the mountain. A precise 3D environment matched to a physical space can deliver an unparalleled level of immersion, and counteract the chances of users falling over.

Taco Bell - VR Arcade

Identifying that a major barrier to entry to VR is the availability and cost of devices, Taco Bell teamed up with Playstation VR to bring an arcade experience to the masses. As well as creating their own games, they also made sure that the whole setup was as shareable as possible to add some sweet social media reach.

Lagavulin - Distillery Experience

Lagaluvin took their group VR experience much further than usual, combining 360 degree video with a full sensory experience – created by our friends VR City and Condiment Junkie. Visitors were completely surrounded by the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the Lagavulin Distillery. It must have been a tough day at the office pulling together the research for this one!

What's next?

It seems likely that 2017 will see a similar gradual development in both the quality and quantity of VR experiences for brands, rather than any seismic shifts. However, Google Daydream (and to a lesser extent Samsung Gear VR) will undoubtedly take mobile VR experiences to new heights and even more hands this year.

If you have a virtual reality project you’d like to discuss with us, then drop us a line