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How long before virtual reality transforms corporate storytelling?

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Two weeks ago on the Talking Points Podcast, I lauded a local company (Victory Motorcyles) and agency (space150) that recently killed it with a virtual reality execution at a trade show in Chicago.

In case you missed it, Victory gave attendees the opportunity to experience a trip through the Badlands in South Dakota by way of Oculus Rift. I think this video speaks for the impact it had on attendees.

More importantly, Victory reps are quoted as saying nearly 300 people took the drive–92% having never tried Oculus Rift before, and 63% never having heard of it. And, 75% of participants have never tried a Victory Motorcycle before–so the brand won when it came to raising brand awareness with an audience who is probably predisposed to buy.


It’s just one example in a short list of brand executions using VR recently. Mountain Dew also comes to mind with its VR at the U.S. Snowboarding Championships a few weeks back.

But, these examples we’re seeing so far are largely brand/marketing-type executions.

They’re what I would call “experiential marketing”.

What about using VR for corporate storytelling? Would that have legs?

Yes.

Heck, yes.

But, I guess it depends on your view of “storytelling.”

I view storytelling as a multi-faceted process. Storytelling happens in print. It happens via visuals. It happens via video. And, in the future, it could happen via VR.

Think about the possibilities at events PR folks organize. Couldn’t the Patagonia folks give fans and customers the chance to hike K2 at a product launch for a new backpack series it’s rolling out?

Or, what about NBA teams giving fans a chance to play one-on-one against their favorite local player at the NBA Finals?

Or, on the B2B side, what about giving customers the chance to tour your manufacturing facility from a trade show floor 1,000 miles away?

Aren’t all of those plausible?

I think the answer is yes. And, I think that future state isn’t as far off as we may have thought it was a few years ago.

I listened to noted futurist Jaron Lanier at MIMA Summit last year talk about how close we are with VR. Essentially, he said once we figure out how to NOT make people sick when they use VR, things may take off in a big way.

I tend to think he’s right. The appetite seems to be there. And, used in the right way, in the right spots, VR can be a powerful storytelling tool.

I even think this has possibilities among corporate communicators.

Think about the following scenario: Your brand is launching a huge new product at CES. Your CEO is presenting to thousands of people to unveil this new product. Wouldn’t it be great to give employees back home, 1,000 miles away, the opportunity to experience what it’s like to sit in the audience at CES as he does that? Wouldn’t that be unbelievable?

That’s the power of VR. And I’m not futurist, but I just don’t think it’s as far off as we think.

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How long before virtual reality transforms corporate storytelling?

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