Companies all around the world use VR/AR to boost their brand awareness, marketing, advertising, and so on. While most of these projects succeed, some are quite strange and raise a lot of questions. In this article, we will explore five interesting cases of VR implementation over the past several years. Some of them are brilliant, but others are quite odd.
KFC: Frying Non-Existent Chicken
In 2017, KFC started using an employee simulator in its fast-food chains called The Hard Way. In the application, the user is offered the chance to cook Colonel Sanders’s signature chicken.
The game begins as a typical horror quest: the user is indoors (in the Colonel’s office), and Sanders’s voice teaches the chef how to make his famous fried chicken. The goal is to do everything right, proceed to the next room, and get a certificate. For the door to open, the player must feed their chicken to Sanders’s iron head and gain his approval. The aesthetics of the VR simulator are similar to the aesthetics of the once-popular BioShock video game — steampunk, surrealism, and a few frightening elements like the iron arms of Sanders’s robot clapping its hands.
Among corporate developments, this is perhaps the most famous VR application. KFC claimed that they needed a simulator to train restaurant employees, but this can hardly be called true. The training interface, like its plot, does not resemble the actual KFC kitchen interior. Real professional training in VR should reproduce the environment in which the user will have to work in as much detail as possible. The main goal is to create a safe space where future employees are free to make mistakes as they master their skills.
Boursin: a Journey Between Eggs And Apples
In 2015, dairy maker Boursin presented a virtual refrigerator trip at London Westfield Shopping Center. The project was called Sensorium.
This project was basically an entire movie in VR: users glided between apples and onion rings, rolled down bottles of wine, and heard creaking sauce lids and rustling peppercorns. The VR simulation was accompanied by 5D effects such as swaying chairs, cold air, different smells, and even tastes of product samples. This created an immersive effect.
The brand told consumers about itself in a new way. Not all products were as famous as its curd cheese, but by the end of the simulation, users had gained a new appreciation for the Boursin line of products. Sensorium even won the prestigious Masters of Marketing Award.
TOMS: Visiting Julio in Peru
The TOMS shoe company gives a second pair of shoes to the needy every time someone buys their product. In 2015, the company recreated a trip to Peru in VR so that the user could see where their money was going. During the trip, the user is in a Peruvian school, where children receive charity shoes for the first time. For this Virtual Giving Trip, the Samsung Gear VR headset was used.
Unlike in the KFC and Boursin cases, the TOMS project did not use drawn animations but rather real video shot with a panoramic camera and sound recorded especially for headphones.
When the user first launches the application, he can observe Peru from a bird’s eye view — part of the video for this project was shot from a drone.
The user then travels in the back seat of a jeep that will bring him to a school in Peru, where he is then able to meet one of the wards of TOMS — a real boy named Julio.
Virtual Giving Trip is not only a marketing project but also an emotional one. This is a good example of how brands can interestingly and positively talk about themselves in virtual reality.
Adidas: Going Uphill
In 2017, Adidas introduced the Delicatessen project — a VR climb along one of the most difficult routes of the Bavella mountain range in Corsica.
Climbers Delaney Miller and Ben Rueck climbed nearly 1,000 meters above sea level. Using GoPros and Google Jump cameras with 8K resolution, a team of photographers and VR developers helped capture the climb in a full 360 °.
The VR route was initially launched in several Adidas stores in Chinese Harbin and later expanded to another ten cities in China.
The company gave the user a unique virtual experience that unequivocally sent consumers to a simple conclusion: climbing is cool, and Adidas products can inspire you to achieve your sports goals. The goal of the project was not only to show the brand’s advantages natively but also to give people some thrills.
Psious: Cure For Fears
Barcelona-based Psious has developed its own VR training technology for psychiatrists. It recreates in virtual reality the stressful situations that have led to the development of various phobias, from fears of enclosed spaces and heights to fears of public speaking or driving.
Virtual training is used as part of exposure therapy — a treatment that helps strengthen the role of consciousness and logic in situations that are traumatic for the patient, which helps get rid of biased fear. Using the Psious platform, a psychiatrist can model training as he sees fit: for example, increasing the number of virtual spiders for a patient who is afraid of them.
Virtual exposure therapy is common in the US and Europe. In Russia, medical VR is used mainly for the rehabilitation of physically injured patients or patients with dementia. Such training, coupled with classical therapy, allows them to regain some of their cognitive skills.
Why Brands Need VR
There are several reasons why VR or AR is valuable for a business: these technologies can help boost marketing, make employee training safer and more effective, and save time and money on optimizing business processes.
For example, Walmart employees from 5,000 stores around the world learn how to distribute goods on shelves with the help of 17,000 VR headsets. This saves time for senior managers who were previously forced to spend hours training newcomers.
Worldwide expenses for VR/AR already amount to $18 billion. This is several times less than companies spend on familiar activities like offline employee training, logistics, prototyping, and demonstrating complex and expensive equipment. Every year, the VR/AR market is growing by more than 100%, and by 2021 it will reach approximately $215 billion.
Unusual projects attract attention to VR, but this does not mean that such solutions are the best applications of technology. Of course, game mechanics help to better absorb information and provide greater interactivity, but business VR projects are primarily about solving real problems and reducing costs and risks.
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