6 Brands Using Altered Reality in their Marketing Campaigns

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, often referred to together as Altered Reality, have started to really dominate the discussion when we talk about how the internet will be used and presented to us in the near to distant future.

So What is the Difference Between VR and AR?

Augmented.com summarizes this nicely, stating that “Virtual Reality offers a digital recreation of a real life setting, while augmented reality delivers virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.”

Virtual Reality offers a digital recreation of a real life setting, while augmented reality delivers virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.

“We had to rethink phones as a company. VR is more important.”

This is a quote by HTC’s CEO Cher Wang earlier this year and is something you can see a number of major players in the technology and online space embracing more and more.

Companies like Oculus Rift have launched wearable VR devices that allow us to enter into an entirely new world when playing video games.

Magic Leap has demonstrated through a number of releases how their system will bring AR to everyday life:

Most recently and most impactful of all was Nintendo’s launch of Pokemon Go, which incorporates both VR and AR elements through their mobile app.

There is even a serialized virtual reality thriller called Gone, that recently launched on Samsung’s Milk VR, which really demonstrates the potential for VR television and movies.

Marketing in an Altered World

We are definitely on a path to a more Altered Reality world and just about every major company out there is either scrambling to launch an AR product or to figure out a way to market their product or service to potential customers using an existing AR interface.

Here are a number of examples of companies who have utilized Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in their marketing efforts over the last few years.

Marriott’s Get Teleported

Marriott’s Get Teleported campaign was really ahead of its time, providing hotel guests the opportunity to step into a VR Teleporter to be whisked away to virtually to other Marriott locations around the world.

The campaign was promoted heavily on Reddit, where it initially caught my attention and ultimately made it into a number of my recent presentations, including one of our recent SEJ Marketing ThinkTank Webinars titled Is Your Brand Missing Out on Reddit?

Here is the trailer for the campaign:

Also, this is a behind the scenes video that showcases what went into filming and experience setup for each location:

Using Virtual Reality to showcase locations that one might not be able to easily visit is going to be a huge opportunity for a number of industries, such as Hotels, Real Estate, Travel, and a number of areas in the Entertainment industry, such as Television, Movies, Concerts, Live Events, etc.

Game of Thrones: Ascend the Wall

One really great example of the Entertainment industry’s use of VR is demonstrated through the Ascend the Wall campaign, which is a partnership between Framestore VR Studio, Relevent, and HBO.

The campaign was used to create buzz and excitement ahead of the airing of Season 4 of Game of Thrones, allowing individuals to ascend 700 foot up to the top of the wall, floor shaking, cold air blowing in your face, and ultimately being attacked by wildlings in the end.

Bringing Magazines to Life

There are endless examples of companies who have created apps that bring magazines to life and this is probably one of the earliest common examples of AR in advertising.

This is also an area that has great potential, especially when you consider that reading a magazine in today’s age probably means you are sitting in your dentist’s waiting room trying to pass the next 30 minutes of your day.

Vespa’s AR Scooter Ad not only allows you to customize a 3D scooter right before your eyes, but it also gives you the ability to drive the scooter off the page and around the area on your screen. Once you have decided you want a real one, the app will help you find the closest dealer who has the one you want.

Viking Footwear came up with a really cool angle, where they show you a simple bootprint in the mud, which when viewed through their AR app shows the boot that made the bootprint. You can view the boot in great detail and move the magazine around to see all sides.

If you don’t like the boot, you can easily change it to the next one and when you find one you like there is an option to buy it from their website.

Maybelline, with the help of Blipp AR, brought their magazine to life by letting you take a picture of your hand and then change the color of your nails to see what color you liked the best on your hand.

Although they added a bunch of options to get more information and follow the brand on social media, they didn’t provide the ability to purchase the nail polish itself, unless I just did not notice the option.

Coca-Cola + AR = Creating Experiences and Memories

Coca-Cola is a brand who has always heavily invested in evolving mediums and altered realities has been no different, with the company launching countless AR and VR campaigns all over the world.

For decades, Coca-Cola has been connected with Santa Claus and Christmas, but they went a step further last year when they allowed customers in Poland to become Santa and take a virtual ride on his runaway sleigh.

They also launched an AR app called Magic, which allowed customers to experience a variety of holiday-related interactions by downloading the Coca-Cola Magic app.

What is really interesting about this campaign was the aspect that once a customer had downloaded the app and used it at set locations, whether the logo on the ground to see Santa or the advertisements, they were then encouraged to pick up the actual product in a store to experience ‘hidden fun’. Creating an environment where a customer wants to seek out your product in a store and then interact with it, is about as perfect a result for a marketing campaign as you can get.

Imagine if a brand was to partner with Pokemon Go and create a Pokemon that can only be caught randomly by seeking out and scanning a specific product within the Pokemon Go app. The brand association, engagement, and coverage would be amazing.

As VR headsets really started to take off over the last year, Coca-Cola came out with a really creative idea to allow their products packaging to be turned into VR headsets, that anyone with a cell phone could use.

The list goes on and on, but it is clear to see that Coca-Cola sees great value in associating their brand with your first or early altered reality experiences. Think of how many ‘the first time I tried VR’ experiences will be associated with their brand going forward.

The Altered Reality Industry is Growing at a Fast Pace

“..with revenues from virtual reality products (both hardware and software) projected to increase from 90 million U.S. dollars in 2014 to 5.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. The number of active VR users is forecast to reach 171 million by 2018. According to recent forecasts, revenue from virtual reality head-mounted displays is expected to grow from 685 million U.S. dollars in 2015 to 3.89 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.” ~ Statista

  • Digi-Capital believes the augmented reality market is projected to generate $120 billion in revenue, compared to just $30 billion for the virtual reality market.
  • Piper Jaffray, one of the largest and oldest financial institutions in the US, believes that annual sales of VR headsets could reach half a billion by 2025.

Although it may seem a ways off, I think it is important for every company to start discussing their altered reality strategy as soon as possible. I would also highly recommend continuing to watch the various brands engaging with both VR and AR, as well as the platforms and companies helping to make it possible.


Image Credits

Featured Image : Screenshot by Brent Csutoras. Taken September 2016.