Like most marketing tactics, experiential marketing comes from humble beginnings. In its infancy, experiential meant taking a brand to the streets... literally. Brand ambassadors would stand on foot-traffic-heavy intersections handing out free samples, with the hope that passersby would choose the free product they received in their next purchasing decision. Not only were the results of sampling campaigns near impossible to calculate, but brands were ending their relationship with the consumer before it even had a chance to begin.
Today, experiential marketers are pushing the technological boundaries. Brands are competing for consumer attention by implementing the biggest, baddest, and newest tech they can find. The best tech today often means augmented reality or virtual reality. Augmented reality (AR) technology enhances the physical environment you see by overlaying virtual elements, such as information or images over it, either through displays such as Google Glass or through the camera view on your smartphone. Designing and implementing valuable AR apps requires:
- A better idea of how consumers would use such technology
- More collaboration among computer scientists, designers, and marketers
- A strategy for integrating the applications into the existing consumer journey
Virtual reality (VR) marketing creates a narrative that drives results, engaging and raising awareness with:
- Immersion: Users are immersed in the content - fewer distractions and more attention on the message
- Impact: The intensity of a VR experience generates strong emotions in its users
- Memories: Our brains remember events linked to locations, VR has a longer trace in memory
- Novelty: Early adopters can benefit from favorable media exposure
With the right engagement and the right technology, brands can develop highly customized interactions that appeal to every consumer with unmatched scalability. Some of the most successful campaigns to date began as a simple idea backed by powerhouse technology. Here are 14 of our favorite AR/VR brand experiences:
1. Samsung & NASA VR Experience
NASA partnered with Samsung to create a 4-D VR moon-walking experience to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. In addition to utilizing a Gear VR headset and a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, Samsung worked with NASA to create a rig similar to the ones astronauts use to train. The rig — paired with a flight suit, a Gear VR headset and a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus— allowed attendees to visualize the moon’s surface from a new perspective, and experience low gravity.
2. American Express U.S. Open Experience
American Express created a variety of tennis-themed, AI-powered gaming experiences at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. Air Tennis, a virtual game created for the experience, allowed guests to play a match against an artificial tennis opponent, using hands and body movements to hit the virtual tennis balls. Players could even feel the impact of hitting a tennis ball through timed blasts of air.
3. The GMC Rangeland Derby VR Truckwagon Race
GMC created a fully-integrated, immersive VR experience, developed in partnership by Momentum Worldwide and Flight School Studio, to celebrate its long-standing partnership with the Calgary Stampede. The GMC Rangeland Derby VR experience gave visitors the chance to race around the legendary Half Mile of Hell, while harnessing the power of a GMC Sierra 2500 pickup truck. The gamified VR race allowed up to four players to compete against each other in real-time, simulating what it’s like to actually be in the driver’s seat of a chuckwagon.
4. Google Assistant Fun House
Google turned a house in Austin into a giant, connected fun home to promote Google Assistant at this year's SXSW. The house included 12 different rooms and activations showcasing how Google Assistant works. When attendees first entered the space, a Google-branded lowrider was parked on the lawn with Google Assistant installed in the speakers. After asking the car to find nearby parking, the car came to life and bounced attendees around to War’s song, Low Rider.
5. Dreamscape Immersive Alien Zoo
Dreamscape Immersive’s Alien Zoo utilized new VR technology that took guests to an interstellar orbiting zoo populated with creatures from around the galaxy. Visitors were outfitted with a head-mounted display, backpack computer, and small trackers that slipped over their hands and feet. To add further immersion, the space featured custom scents, wind, and even a unique chance to touch one of the aliens.
6. The Next Rembrandt Project
The Next Rembrandt project, sponsored by ING and Microsoft, created a new Rembrandt “painting” made solely from data derived from 346 paintings. A facial recognition AI algorithm learned Rembrandt’s techniques, then pixel data helped the computer mimic brushstrokes, and an advanced 3D printer brought the painting to life using 13 layers of ink. The portrait consisted of 148M pixels, based on 168,263 fragments from his portfolio.
7. National Geographic Space Projection Helmet
For the premiere of One Strange Rock, National Geographic created a new kind of virtual reality experience that let users look and feel like an astronaut with a "Space Projection Helmet.” Inside the helmet, a small laser projector beamed a view of Earth from space onto the inside of the visor, while builtin speakers played accompanying audio.
8. HP Lounge Digital Eden
HP enchanted Coachella attendees with futuristic technology inside the HP Lounge. HP’s Digital Eden represented the intersection points between technology and creativity, powered by its latest products with an array of florals and vines sprawled overhead throughout the ceiling. Using HP’s Digital Inking stylus technology, guests could control the digital flowers blooming and color combinations within this kinetic sculpture and see their creations come to life powered by the new HP ZBook x2.
9. The Mummy VR Zero Gravity Experience
Universal Pictures and IMAX partnered with engineering firm Positron to create a VR experience to promote the movie The Mummy, which featured a plane crash scene that was shot in a zero gravity aircraft. The Mummy Zero Gravity Stunt VR experience utilized a Positron Voyager chair, the first 360-degree full motion chair designed for cinematic VR, that gave consumers a behind the scenes zero-gravity look at how this complex scene was shot.
10. Glade Museum of Feelings
Glade's Museum of Feelings was a pop-up experience that took guests on an emotional journey through five interactive fragrance inspired exhibits, each scented to a different Glade fragrance. Glade collaborated with Twitter to generate a ‘MoodLens,’ a profile picture that would change based on feelings. The exterior reacted to social media and realtime data to reflect NYC’s ever-changing mood in vivid color.
11. ReBlink AR Museum Art
The Art Gallery of Ontario partnered with Impossible Things to create ReBlink, an augmented reality art exhibit that blends traditional art with the latest in computer vision technologies to ‘re-mix’ classic paintings in the AGO’s permanent collection. Visitors have a chance to see canvases come to life in three dimensional art. Using a custom app, visitors use their device’s camera to unlock modern twists on historical works of art.
12. Ford's “Future of Mobility”
Ford created a VR experience at the North American International Auto Show to help consumers see how the brand is committed to the “Future of Mobility.” Guests sat in chairs and donned VR headsets, which made it feel as if a giant drone was lifting them in the air and flying them around a futuristic city. During the flight, the drone would hover over certain scenes to provide more in-depth information about Ford’s mobility vision; such as a driver parking using pre-booking and autonomous vehicle technology.
13. Honda & Hololens at the LA Auto Show
Honda created an AR experience for visitors at the Los Angeles Auto Show. As guests walked around the newest Honda Accord wearing a Microsoft Hololens headset, six stories about the vehicle appeared in their view. As guests sat in the driver’s seat, they experienced different traffic scenarios that were simulated through the windshield in front of them.
14. The NFL Experience
NFL Experience is a live action attraction, combining interactive games, a state-of-the-art 4D theater, and even the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The experience takes visitors directly into the game, from the practice field to the Super Bowl. Fans can test their skills to see how they measure up to professional football players, learn game strategy from coaches, and experience the NFL in an immersive 4D movie theater.