Virtual reality is changing the way companies advertise, connect with customers and tell their brand's story. While this technology is still developing, companies are taking advantage of the advertising potential of VR. It has resulted in creative and engaging content that viewers actually want to pay attention to.
A lot of VR ad-related content has taken the form of 360-degree videos. These videos can be viewed through a cardboard VR headset on any mobile phone and on computers. Some companies at the forefront of VR technology have developed virtual reality rooms centered on branded content, like Unity's Jigsaw virtual room experience. [Read related story: Virtual Reality Is Making Marketing and Training More Effective for Businesses]
Chick-fil-A launched a VR website centered on its famed marketing icon: the "Eat Mor Chikin" Cow. "Cowz VR" involves sky diving, deep sea diving, skiing and race car driving, all with the familiar mooing of Chick-fil-A cows not far behind. The ad ends with each cow's sign saying "Eat mor chikin with realitee," a call to action with a fun VR twist. The ad is only meant for cardboard mobile view, and is a good example of how brands are extending into VR without having to craft something for an Oculus or Samsung headset. The Chick-fil-A ad is an extension of its TV campaigns into the VR space.
Destination British Columbia
This tourism office has a YouTube channel with a ton of advertisements – both traditional and virtual reality videos – about all the great attractions in British Columbia. This experience offers a 360-degree climb of the Via Ferrata Route through the Kootenay Rockies. The two-minute video is more of an experience than an advertisement, but it does show off the beauty and natural wonder of British Columbia. The VR aspect is noticeable: At one point in the video, the viewer steps over a broken plank on a rickety bridge suspended hundreds of feet above the valley floor. Destination British Columbia also offers VR experiences for ice cave exploration and a floatplane journey.
Infiniti paired with OmniVirt to create a test-drive experience for the Infiniti Q60. Viewers in the virtual experience get to drive the Q60 along several routes. Users can hear the roar of the engine along desert roads, in high-speed tunnels and on hairpin turns through mountain passes. The view is from the driver's perspective, so viewers get a full feel for the Q60 driving experience.
Netflix, like Infiniti, worked on a virtual reality experience with OmniVirt for its new show "Ultimate Beastmaster." The show, which follows an obstacle course inside a "beast," uses VR to give viewers a feel for each obstacle, statistics on each challenge and what it's like to be an athlete on the show. For Netflix, this VR experience is a new way for viewers to interact with its content. This ad is a good example of how entertainment companies could approach VR trailers for different television shows or movies.
Unity's Jigsaw virtual room ad
Unity's virtual room was the first of its kind – a fully branded room where participants can interact with characters from the movie and experience the Jigsaw series like never before. This virtual room can be experienced with a Samsung Gear VR headset. Viewers can solve a quick puzzle and then teleport around the room to interact with different "Saw" film shrines. This virtual room was launched in the fall of 2017, so hopefully VR users will see similar branded rooms in 2018.
Google launched an experience-based program to show America the beauty of its national parks. From underwater explorations to caves with swirling bats, Google showcases the beauty of American national parks through 360-degree video. Viewers have the option to visit national parks in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico and Utah. Google loaded in some introductory explainer videos and a map to view where each park is in the U.S. Much like the videos from Destination British Columbia, Google's videos may not be geared toward advertising, but still pique a viewer's interest by showing off the beauty of each park.
"It" virtual reality trailer
Warner Bros. Pictures released a cinematic, 360-degree trailer so viewers could experience the horror of "It" in virtual reality. With IT: FLOAT – A Cinematic VR Experience, viewers can get up close and personal with Pennywise, the film's killer clown. The trailer starts by following a small boy, the main character's brother, peering into a storm drain at a lurking Pennywise. The trailer then ventures down into the storm drain and Pennywise's lair. The "It" virtual reality experience, like the Jigsaw experience, is an example of how horror films have ventured into virtual reality to terrify viewers.