VR meets PR

Jeff Travis, Senior Consultant at Polymedia, experiencing Virtual RealityWalking across Antarctica, wing walking at 2,000ft, or being immersed in the electric atmosphere of a music concert – welcome to the world of Virtual Reality.

VR is a vivid, personalised experience that is opening up a whole new platform of communication with seemingly limitless possibilities.

It is undoubtedly the next big thing for media consumption – and that fact has certainly not gone unnoticed by PR and marketing professionals.

VR has been successfully incorporated into campaigns, creating engaging content designed for maximum impact.

With its ability to transport users to alternative realities, has there ever been a media platform with this kind of potential for high-impact messaging? Arguably not. Despite its undoubted potential, whether VR will really take off in a big way across the board and be fully embraced by both the marketer and the consumer across all sectors remains to be seen.



Here are a few examples of some of the most prominent VR campaigns in recent years:

  • Coca-Cola created a football experience that is the stuff of dreams for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. People were taken to a mock locker room in the Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro and were asked to put on Coca-Cola branded VR headgear which allowed them to run straight on to the football pitch to play for their home nation.
  • To promote car safety, NRMA Insurance used headsets to simulate what it is like to be in a car crash. People sat in a real car linked up to a hydraulic system that moved the car in sync with virtual movements.
  • Soft cheese supplier Boursin created a VR experience that takes you on a journey through a fridge full of treats. The video has been a hit on YouTube, with more than 130,000 views.

One of the advantages of VR is its appeal to a mass audience, as well as the potential to market to a targeted audience with particular interests and preferences. One billion views on YouTube is the stuff of most marketeers’ dreams and an interactive, 360-degree live video of a Slipknot music concert was able to achieve this kind of phenomenal engagement. The experience appealed to Slipknot super fans, as well as other audiences, no doubt attracted to the video by good-old curiosity.


A trend with huge momentum

Here are a few facts that highlight the extent to which the PR and marketing industry is adapting – and will need to adapt further – to the opportunities VR brings:

  • In the next two to three years, the virtual reality market is going to be worth £23billion.
  • Around 500 million virtual reality headsets are going to be sold in the next eight to 10 years.
  • There are nearly 700 virtual reality start-ups.


Huge opportunities and challenges

VR has been talked about for the last three decades and now it seems technology has caught up with the fad and we are seeing an explosion of interest in VR and all its potential manifestations.

It presents the PR and marketing world with huge opportunities, as well as challenges.

These immersive experiences provide a very powerful commercial tool for shaping brand awareness and could take campaigns to a level of engagement that we have never seen before.

Presenting VR to millennials is certainly not going to be a challenge, but there’s an argument that VR has yet to really penetrate all of the consumer demographic and PRs need to be mindful of this fact. In this fast-paced digital age, there’s always the possibility that VR could be superseded by another trend.

It’s important to mention that as VR becomes ever more popular and Facebook, YouTube and other platforms become saturated with high-quality, interactive experiences, it may be increasingly difficult to make your content stand out above the crowd.

That is where the creativity of PR professionals will be tested – and I’m sure we can rise to the challenge.

It’s certainly an exciting time for our industry as we embrace this rapidly-growing trend.

These immersive experiences provide a very powerful commercial tool for shaping brand awareness and could take campaigns to a level of engagement that we have never seen before.

Jeff Travis, senior consultant at Polymedia



Do you have any thoughts on how VR can make its mark in the PR and marketing industry? Let us know on Twitter @polymediapr