Winston is a VR developer focused on creating immersive storytelling experiences.
Contact him on Twitter: @VRHeavenNews
August 16th, 2022
14 Effective VR Marketing Campaigns (2022)
“I notice users become very engaged when they see an ad in VR. It’s so unique and unusual that they stop and stare. The technology is still in its infant stages, and there are a plethora of untapped opportunities for VR marketing inside the metaverse.”
What is VR Marketing?
VR marketing is an approach to marketing that incorporates virtual reality technology into its campaigns to deliver a 3D 360° immersive experience to its audience. This can be in the form of a banner advertisement inside a virtual world or a tech demo that allows users to try out products before purchasing them.
VR marketers aim to use this emerging technology in creative, untapped ways to elevate their products & services.
Why is VR Marketing Important?
According to Greenlight Insights, 62% of consumers become more engaged with a brand if it offers a VR experience. VR allows you to connect to consumers like never before, by creating more impactful and meaningful experiences.
This is because the main advantages of VR marketing are:
1. Immersive Storytelling
VR and marketing are a match made in heaven. Why?
Because VR is by far the most immersive platform for storytelling, and marketing is all about storytelling! With virtual reality technology, marketers are able to deliver much more powerful messages through their VR marketing campaigns.
The reason why VR is so effective for storytelling is because emotions drive more than 80% of our decisions whilst logic dictates only 20%.
When you put on a VR headset, your logical brain knows this world isn’t real, but the rest of the brain can’t decipher the difference. If you stand on the edge of a cliff in VR, you’ll experience the same fear as if you were standing there in real life.
VR has a much greater impact on one’s emotions than your standard TV or Youtube commercial. The future of VR will revolve around storytelling campaigns and you’ll start to see brands gradually shift from 2D commercials to 3D 360° ones.
In fact, Coca Cola has already started doing that with their AR storytelling campaign where if you point a phone at a can of coke, you’ll see the characters come to life:
2. Try Before You Buy
Over the past several years, marketers have been incorporating VR into “try before you buy” campaigns. These are mainly for big ticket items such as cars, hotels, tours, airways, furniture and real estate, as developing these applications can be expensive, but in the far distant future it’ll also be applicable to smaller items like makeup, clothing and haircuts.
With VR, customers can demo a car before buying it, go on a virtual tour before booking a holiday there, or try out different airways to see what they prefer.
Qatar Airways did this with QVerse, a virtual reality metaverse platform developed using Unreal Engine that allows customers to virtually tour the check-in area at Hamad International Airport and go flying inside the airplane. This helps customer decide whether they should go with business class or economy class.
3. Lifelike Interactions
VR lets marketers connect more deeply with customers. Instead of just seeing a 2D person on a screen, they get to see a person as if they were standing there in real life. This has many applications, one of which is education & training.
Ever see those ‘marketing gurus’ who create free content in order to sell a course? Well the same thing can be done with VR, but on a deeper personal level.
You can have a chef standing next to you, teaching you how to cook. You can be in a virtual car with a driving instructor, teaching you how to drive before you practice in the real world.
The possibilities with this are endless.
14 Stellar Examples of VR Marketing and Advertising
1. The Belko VR Experiment
Belko VR is a short, free VR game, which was developed in 11 weeks and released on Steam to promote a movie.
Directed by David Yarovesky and Dan Clifton, the short 15 minute game takes place in the storyline of The Belko Experiment.
Belko VR is an escape room game where you have 15 minutes to escape or you die, with a twist at the end. It does a spectacular job at nailing the feeling of suspense, which is one of the selling points of the movie also. Through the game, people also became interested in the movie.
Over 100,000 people played the game and Belko VR ended up being one of the best VR advertisements I’ve ever experienced. It really put me on the edge of my seat, and if every movie did this, I wouldn’t complain.
As AR and VR become increasingly popular, expect to see more advertisements that utilise VR in this way.
2. Boursin Sensorium: Using VR to Sell Cheese
This VR marketing campaign won a Masters of Marketing award. It’s truly one of the most creative ways I’ve seen VR used.
What they did was they went around shopping malls, sat people down and gave the public a taste of this VR experience.
They stimulated the user’s senses by using visuals, a soundtrack, cool air, fans, a moving chair and gave them product samples.
Meanwhile, user reactions were recorded in 6 second clips and shown on social media with the hashtag #BoursinSensorium.
3. Bloomberg Virtual Tours
Bloomberg has found a lot of success with these 360 videos and are still making them to this very day.
Their ‘Tour a $17.75 Million NYC Penthouse in 360’ video has over a million views!
So if you’re creative and know how to make good videos, Youtube VR videos is an untapped niche with plenty of potential.
4. Nissan’s Virtual Car Dealership
Nissan essentially built a VR Japanese car dealership based on the “Nissan Crossing” which is a city landmark in Tokyo where Nissan vehicles get showcased.
The virtual dealership was created in the platform VRChat, a popular metaverse platform for social VR. It was created to showcase the all new Nissan Sakura EV, where players can even test drive the vehicle on a virtual island they created by taking a portal from the Nissan dealership.
This also isn’t the first time a leading car manufacturer decided to create a VR experience to advertise their cars. Brands like BMW, Porsche, Toyota and Audi have already done it.
5. Vuze Camera Youtube Campaign
Vuze is a company that sells 3D 360 cameras. In order to advertise their cameras, they created an epic video of a skydiving experience in VR. The video got 3.4 million views and generated lots of brand awareness.
“Epic” 360 videos do very well on Youtube. Think experiences like bungie jumping, rollercoasters, skydiving etc. In fact, one of the most popular VR videos is a rollercoaster video with 56 million views!
6. Lowe’s: Holoroom How To
Decorating a new home is quite exciting, but going to the store without any experience if you are planning to do everything yourself can be a bit overwhelming. That is why Lowe decided to help out their customers by introducing them to their Holoroom with a How To experience.
In this experience, the viewer would be able to learn almost everything they need about decorating their new home in the best DIY fashion. Even today, the guides in the Holoroom are very useful for DIY beginners that cannot or do not feel like hiring a professional to do the work for them.
7. Key Technology: VERYX Food Sorting
Those who attended the food packaging trade show at Pack Expo got to experience an exciting and detailed Virtual Reality demo on VERYX, the Key Technology’s digital food sorting operation works.
Viewers could see the exact process inside the machine, and doing so in VR is undoubtedly one of the best ways to show precisely what modern tech is capable of.
8. Adidas: Delicatessen
While visual experiences are great VR campaigns, Adidas took it a bit further, where they also used remote controllers for additional immersion.
Viewers could follow two extreme athletes on their mountain climbing journey by using the controllers to climb the mountains. Climbing the mountains with Rueck and Miller was quite an experience, especially back in 2017 when VR was just kicking off, and it definitely did its job to market TERREX.
9. Toms: Virtual Giving Trip
Something that Toms has always been known about is their acts of charity, where every time a customer would buy a pair of shoes for themselves, they would also donate a pair to a child in need.
With that in mind, it is only natural that the Toms’ VR campaign was called “Toms Virtual Giving Trip,” where the viewers would be taken on a trip through Peru where Blake Mycoskie would narrate the experience as they are introduced to children getting their first pair of shoes.
Showing donors where their money is going is definitely the best way to be about it, and while doing so in person certainly would spark the most satisfaction, being able to see it in VR is almost as satisfying.
10. TopShop: Catwalk VR Experience
Those who are more familiar with the VR industry probably thought of the Catwalk VR device that lets you run freely in virtual reality on a treadmill, but that is not what TopShop: Catwalk VR experience was all about.
It was instead about fashion, the TopShop’s fashion show during London’s Fashion week, to be exact. Those who really wanted to visit but did not have the opportunity to do so could get a seat in VR next to the fashion runway and observe the show through the headset from the comfort of their own home.
11. New York Times: Using VR Tech for Storytelling
While 2016 is considered somewhat of an early stage of VR, that did not stop NYT from partnering up with Google in order to introduce the world to virtual reality through Google Cardboards.
If you had an online subscription at the time, you would receive a Google Cardboard, which is a simple VR box in which you can build yourself and experience VR with the aid of your phone.
Even if you could technically use the Google Cardboard for anything, NYT intended their subscribers to watch a VR film, “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart,” which featured a close look at the dwarf planet.
12. GSK: Migraine Experience
Everyone who gets migraines on a regular basis probably knows how awful of an experience that is. However, if you have never happened to have a migraine, the VR experience launched by GSK will show you exactly what it is like.
While the VR simulation “Exedrin Migraine Experience” cannot truly simulate a migraine as the viewer will not be in pain, it can most certainly display the visual symptom of a migraine, such as auras and light sensitivity.
Seeing VR marketing used for something educational instead of something adventurous and fun was quite an interesting move from GSK. Needless to say, it was quite successful as those who try the experience themselves will have a better understanding of those who suffer from this condition.
13. McDonald’s: Happy Goggles
Another example of VR marketing in forms of education surprisingly comes from Mcdonald’s. The way they did it was by turning the traditional Happy Meal box into a pair of Google Cardboard, which was a very clever way to introduce and make VR more accessible to the public.
Once kids assembled the Google Cardboard, they could access an educational game called Slope Stars. This was another campaign in the early days of VR in 2016, and it was a very nice surprise from Mcdonald’s.
14. Ikea: Ikea Place
Being able to see exactly how some furniture is going to look in your home is one of the best things that came from VR marketing, and it was done by Ikea. The Ikea Place VR-based app would allow users to place 3D models of the furniture and fixtures in a true-to-scale version of their homes.
While the app does not really use a headset, it is a good example of how VR marketing can also be done through a phone app, which in this case, was an iOS device.
5 Most-Effective VR Marketing Strategies
You don’t need to be a big brand or invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in VR tech in order to use it. You can actually start implementing VR marketing into your campaigns for a low cost. Here are some opportunities:
1. Create Youtube 360 Videos
Everybody knows how great Youtube is as a marketing platform, but it’s also very difficult to grow a Youtube channel nowadays.
Well, ever since 2015, Youtube has introduced 360° or 180° VR videos on its platform. You can find these by searching for something on Youtube and using the filters.
The great news is that the competition for 3D 360 videos is much lower than 2D videos. There are some brands who have caught on to this VR trend, and many who haven’t.
So if you want to get in early, now’s the time. There’s not much competition in VR videos and you can become a leader in this space before it gets mainstream.
To get started, you’ll need a VR headset and a 180 or 360 degree camera. 180 degrees is much cheaper and can get you higher resolution for lower costs.
2. Develop Apps
Either learn it yourself or hire a developer. An app like the Belko VR escape room experiment took 11 weeks to create so you won’t need a gigantic marketing budget in order to create a similar experience.
Any apps you create can be published to Steam or the Oculus Store through App Lab. Getting on the official Oculus Store is quite difficult and shouldn’t be expected.
3. Create Worlds in Metaverse Platforms Like VRChat
Similar to what Nissan did, many large companies are now paying attention to the metaverse social platform, VRChat.
In VRChat, you can build your own worlds any way you like, and anyone can visit them.
VRChat also hosts many events, including VKet, which is basically a virtual flea market. I’ve seen a variety of brands advertise on there – ranging from computer/hardware stores, game companies, musicians trying to sell their music, 3D artists trying to sell their models, and some really obscure ones like pet food.
Right now, the audience are mostly gamers, so most products being advertised on Vket are tailored to that, but as we get closer to the future where the metaverse encompasses everyone, the audience will become more broad.
VRChat isn’t the only platform for this. There’s also Decentraland, Horizon Worlds and other smaller ones.
4. Perform, or Showcase Your Product on Horizon Venues
Horizon Venues, developed by Meta, is a social gathering venue where people can watch events together. Some notable examples include:
ONE Championship hosting their MMA fights in 3D to build their brand awareness to compete with the UFC
Foo Fighters performed here (albeit, there were lots of technical issues due to the huge influx of people)