In a recent story on Fast Company Co.Exist, journalist Amy Westervelt asked the question "Could virtual reality make us better people?" She pointed out that "scientists are using new immersive technology to have people virtually walk a mile in others shoes."
In fact Toms shoes, the California company that gives away a pair of shoes to an impoverished child for every pair purchased, recently turned to virtual reality to do just that. Toms Virtual Giving Trip transports customers to a school in Peru to experience where the other pair goes.
Toms founder Blake Mycoskie told KTLA-TV that "Seeing it for the first time in such an immersive experience actually causes some people to freeze up. Some had great joy seeing the happiness of the kids. Several people started to cry."
According to MSLGROUP’s Jeff Melton, clients and agencies are only beginning to explore how virtual reality can deliver new value to brand campaigns, and are finding that the technology enables brands to tell stories in ways that will yield historically unprecedented emotional engagement. Melton, who manages platforms and tools for the agency, says, "Virtual reality can transcend space and time and transport people to a different world with a level of realness never seen before."
"Imagine taking students on field trips around the world, inspiring the awe, learning, and engagement from being there in person," he continues. "Or, even taking them back in history to experience historical events as they occurred. Think about the experience of sitting in the first row of the Super Bowl or World Cup. Envision being able to network, interview for a job, or experience virtual friendships from around the world."
Melton adds: "Consider the possibility of putting on a headset to share a personal moment with a departed parent or grandparent. Or being able to go virtually back in time to meet yourself as a youth. These are amazing moments."
Experts from many sides of the marketing world are suggesting that the level of engagement will not just be greater, but in some cases, will rise to the level of being irresistible. "What’s needed most of all right now is the imagination of the marketers and the willingness of brands to explore new territory," explains Melton.
PRWeek is collaborating with MSLGROUP on a panel at SXSW that will highlight the emotional benefits that VR can add to marketing campaigns. To attend, register here to hear panelists discuss the most creative ways to utilize VR for integrated marketing and PR.
Technical evangelist/futurist and social media powerhouse Robert Scoble will headline the panel. He will be joined by Tara Kriese, senior director and head of marketing at Samsung Electronics America, where she leads U.S. marketing efforts for the virtual reality portfolio. She is one of the driving forces in taking Samsung Gear VR, Samsung Gear 360, and Samsung Milk VR, the company’s premium virtual reality content service, to the mass consumer market.
Jim Marggraff of the tech company Eyefluence that transforms intent into action through eye movements will also join. Jon Hackett, director of emerging technologies at Nurun, will speak to client VR campaigns. MSLGROUP’s Melton will moderate.
At the end of the panel discussion, attendees are invited to visit the 'VR Mini Lab,’ sponsored by UploadVR, which will feature developers and hands-on opportunities to engage with the technology.