Virtual reality: should brands be first to the punch or is it better to wait and (virtually) see?

  • Technology
  • October 7, 2015
  • Holly Bagge
Virtual reality: should brands be first to the punch or is it better to wait and (virtually) see?

There has been a lot of talk and hype about virtual reality in recent times. And just in the past month we’ve had a few sets of cardboard virtual reality goggles sent to the office from PR companies, which shows it’s very much in the public consciousness. One brand, which jumped onto the VR trend early in a marketing capacity, is Contiki. We had a chat to Contiki’s global CEO Casper Urhammer to find out more about the travel brand’s use of it. PLUS: with the amount of research and development going into virtual reality, is it better to wait?

Contiki has been luring travellers by giving them the ability to truly envision a travel adventure with the use of the technology. 

Earlier in the year Contiki’s global video director Ben Gattegno ventured out to the U.S. to shoot a number of iconic destinations in 360-degree video. The minute-long video features a Contiki trip manager introducing the 'traveller's' trip and then snippets of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Times Square New York, Las Vegas and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. Another video has since been shot in Italy, called ‘Cliff Diving’.

Contiki NZ owns two pairs which it keeps in its Auckland office and recently partnered with Samsung to loan more headsets when needed to immerse prospective travellers in a virtual reality experience.

“The use of virtual reality is intended as a way of giving our travellers a sneak peak into what it would be like being on a Contiki tour,” says Urhammer, who was in New Zealand recently discussing Contiki’s use of the technology at lectures at AUT and Auckland University. “We want to give people an opportunity to escape reality for a moment. Give people a little bit of holiday.”

Contiki global CEO Casper Urhammer

He says the purpose other than giving people a sneak peak is also a way for Contiki to connect with its 18-35-year-old demographic, which live and breathe digital. “And that’s where they are and we need to talk to them in a format that is engaging and on par with how they expect to be communicated with from a trend-setting, cool youth brand.”

Contiki got onto virtual reality a couple of months ago, he says, but had been considering using the technology for a while. “We were sitting here in Geneva and I had the presidents and managing directors of the regions [for Contiki] here for a marketing meeting and we were having a little bit of a brainstorming session. And we watched a music video where a guy orders a package online and he gets this crazy headset that takes him on a virtual reality journey. So we thought, what if we can recreate this for our travelling tenders to show how great it would be on a Contiki.”

He says if he was to give his prediction on the future of travel shows and travel technology over the next two or three years we would see a lot more of virtual reality. “I’m glad we got a chance to be first movers. I expect a lot more from this in the travel industry. I’m just glad we got a chance to jump on it as the first ones.”

Urhammer with students at Auckland University

Though Contiki’s use of virtual reality has been met with wide interest, it’s hard to measure whether it’s increased the number of people travelling with Contiki so far, he says.

“Well, it’s really hard for us to track because we don’t know if who buys the trip has tried it. But our sales are just through the roof right now. We are up so many percentages that we can hardly believe it. We have to look at the numbers on a daily basis.”

It’s about having a good product and strong marketing, he says. “But it certainly has an impact. I’d like to say that VR makes a difference but I cannot prove it, but it’s part of the bigger picture.”

He says Contiki will continue to use the technology. “It’s a given when you see that a youth brand can use it to their advantage and we’ll benefit from that. We will keep producing content … I would love to see one [a video] in Japan and some in Eastern Europe and some in Latin America. All these various places that we go to, we’ll aim to film content and give people a little sneak peak.”

We have experience, we know how to use it well, he says. “We know which strategies work. We were one of the early movers on content led marketing as well and socially driven marketing. We need to do what GoPro and YouTube are doing. We are the GoPro and YouTube of the travel industry. If we want to keep innovating in this space we have to keep doing what we’re doing. We have strong digital and marketing teams so we are well positioned to take the lead on these things.”

But with so much research and development going into the product, is it worth getting on-board early? That’s not to say it’s not worth it for Contiki. It seems a clever move for a brand targeting technologically-savvy youth, to virtually take them to an amazing destination at the time of their lives where travel is near the top of the list. But, there’s an old saying that it’s better to be second at something. As then you see how others do it and learn from what works well and what doesn’t.

According to Adweek virtual reality is creating a lot of excitement but it’s not bringing in the dollars at this stage. Top brands like Mountain Dew, Volvo and Jim Beam have dabbled with it in recent months to generate excitement, but production costs are high.

72andSunny's director of production Tom Dunlap says: "You're now considering producing in a 360-degree environment, so it increases your post-production costs exponentially," he says. "I would venture to say that it's more expensive than television commercials."

Mike Rubenstein, vp of integrated solutions at Hill Holliday, who has done VR work for Merrell, agreed that it is difficult to justify the steep cost, especially as headsets like Samsung Gear retail for $200 and others aren't even available to consumers.

"It's a bit of a gamble, and you are making something of an investment in the creation of this content, which is not second nature to most on the agency or the production side," he said. "You kind of need to go all-in at this point to make it worthwhile."

Then there’s the fact that Facebook purchased virtual reality technology Oculus Rift for $2 billion last year, and with the amount of money Facebook it has behind it (over $200 billion) it can afford to do some pretty amazing things. Facebook wants to change communication altogether, not just revolutionise the gaming world.

It’s already setting up the framework for VR on its platform, with its recent introduction of 360-degree video capability, which it’s added to its newsfeeds. And while it's announcement for 360-degree video didn’t mention Oculus Rift, we’d imagine soon enough it’ll be commonplace to watch these videos on a virtual reality headset when the technology becomes more widespread.

Publishers that are using the 360-degree video on Facebook so far are Star Wars, Discovery, GoPro, LeBron James & Uninterrupted, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and VICE.

As Facebook’s announcement said: “In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there. Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organisations, and individual creators … It’s early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities for 360 video and hope it helps people explore the world in new, immersive ways.”

As Cramer mentions, Facebook is looking at virtual reality technology as the future of communication. “Imagine walking around your Facebook feed, virtually interacting with pictures, videos, and connections as if you were part of the stories and conversations.”

According to Vanity Fair Facebook will begin shipping the Oculus Rift to customers early next year, it will cost around US$1,500 for the device and the computer you need to run it. Though there is the cheaper Oculus $299 facemask out which can be used with Samsung cell phones and can be purchased from stores like Noel Leeming.

Sony and Microsoft are also preparing to release their own headsets in the next year.

So, while the technology is predicted to be huge, and these massive companies are investing billions into the technology, it does seems it’ll be a while before it hits the mainstream, at least in its purest form where it’s a fully immersive experience rather than the amazing-but-not-quite-there feel of the cheaper head sets.

In the meantime though, anyone (or brand) can have a go with Google’s simplistic unpatented version, Google Cardboard, which brands have been making the most of. It combines mobile phones and the act of folding to create inexpensive virtual reality goggles.

Kellogg’s and shopper marketing and digital activation agency Geometry Global NZ have taken inspiration from this technology and, in what it says is a first for the New Zealand grocery market, turned a box of Nutri-Grain into a virtual reality experience

Kellogg's says purchasing an online cardboard VR Goggle viewer can cost up to $30 (and there are plenty of different designs available via Google). But this one is all included on the limited-edition box and ready to be created with a pair of scissors, a butter knife and some tape (while the Nutri-Grain headsets aren’t Google Cardboard, Kellogg’s says its team have been in contact with Google during the development phase to produce the Nutri-Grain versions). 

Users who download the Bolt app on iOS or Android, scan the QR code on the front of the box and stick their phone in the cardboard headset get three VR experiences: wing suit flying, mountain biking and long boarding. 

So, though this technology is creating a lot of hype, it would seem it’s not hugely lucrative as a marketing tool at this stage. There’s still a way to go before it hits the mainstream, is affordable and is fully embraced by brands and consumers alike. But with BI Intelligence forecasting that the virtual reality market will be worth US$2.8 billion (NZ $3.8 billion) by 2020 and social media juggernauts like Facebook getting behind the technology, we expect to see some amazing things eventually. Watch this space.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

People, action, technology and giving it a go: key takeaways from Data Insight’s DI Day
Sponsored content

People, action, technology and giving it a go: key takeaways from Data Insight’s DI Day

Last month, New Zealand’s business leaders and their analysts gathered for a deep dive into leveraging data and harnessing insights to drive data-driven decision making throughout their organisations. Erin McKenzie attended the event to learn what organisations need to do to their data-transformation.

AA Insurance wants Kiwis to live a dino-mite life

  • Advertising
  • October 15, 2019
  • StopPress Team
AA Insurance wants Kiwis to live a dino-mite life

AA Insurance brings together a clash of fantasy versus reality in its latest spot via DDB New Zealand.

Read more

Ads of the week: 15 October

  • TVC of the week
  • October 15, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 15 October

Everybody cha-cha real smooth for Education New Zealand, BNZ, Huffer and AA Insurance.

Read more
topics
Story IQ
Story IQ
Story IQ is a brand story consultancy. We help brands uncover the hidden, untold stories ...
Up-and-Comers
Up-and-Comers
We give the mic to the industry's future leaders to hear their thoughts on media, ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
The Stoppies 2018
The Stoppies 2018
In February (Valentine's Day to be exact), StopPress gathered the industry for an evening of ...
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
We'll take it from here: Stanley St on going independent
news

We'll take it from here: Stanley St on going independent

Gone is the red building at 22 Stanley Street in Parnell, Auckland as New Zealand’s newest independent agency has taken over. Dubbed Stanley St, the agency is now standing on its own two feet without the support of the Ogilvy name or WPP AUNZ ownership. A bold move to break free from a holding company, Erin McKenzie sits down with the new managing director Ian Rodney to hear what Stanley St stands for.

Stitch Consultancy opens strongly in New Zealand
Sponsored content

Stitch Consultancy opens strongly in New Zealand

Stitch, a new advertising and marketing technology consultancy agency, has opened its doors. Stitch is led by co-founders Adnan Khan and Simon Wedde, and along with 30 years joint experience working with big international names, their newest venture is set to combine the best of strategy, data, advertising, and marketing technology to help businesses deliver better customer experiences.

voices

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Bank of New Zealand’s spot showcases how the little moments matter

  • Advertising
  • October 14, 2019
Bank of New Zealand’s spot showcases how the little moments matter

Bank of New Zealand has launched its latest campaign ‘Kids’ Room’ via Colenso BBDO ­ – and for anyone who has shared a room with a sibling, it will strike a chord.

Read more
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2019: Auckland Council's Emily Thorn named Rookie Marketer of the Year
features

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2019: Auckland Council's Emily Thorn named Rookie Marketer of the Year

Since 2016, Emily Thorn, a marketing and publicity specialist for Auckland Council, has quickly excelled in marketing with ideas that cut through the marketplace. It’s no surprise her colleagues call her a driven, strategic and creative marketer who is a real asset to the team.

NZ Rugby and Sky team up in new broadcast deal

  • Media
  • October 14, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
NZ Rugby and Sky team up in new broadcast deal
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand Rugby is to take a 5 percent stake in Sky as it unveils a new broadcast deal.

Read more
DB Breweries spreads its wings, wins Supreme at TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards
awards

DB Breweries spreads its wings, wins Supreme at TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards

To turn Tui’s fortunes around, DB Breweries brewed up a new drink, and while it sports the Tui logo, it’s not a beer.

Women Who Lead: In conversation with Motion Sickness head of strategy Hilary Ngan Kee (watch)

  • Women who Lead
  • October 10, 2019
  • Idealog
Women Who Lead: In conversation with Motion Sickness head of strategy Hilary Ngan Kee (watch)

In the first of a series highlighting the vibrant women in New Zealand business doing great things in their respective fields, Elly Strang, editor of Idealog profiles Hilary Ngan Kee, the head of strategy and a director at award-winning agency Motion Sickness.

Read more
When is a prescribed solution not the right answer?
Sponsored content

When is a prescribed solution not the right answer?

Sometimes the brief can miss the mark when expectations are too tight. Here, Insight Creative tells us how the prescribed solution isn’t always the best course of action.

Spark Sport wins broadcast rights to NZ Cricket fixtures

  • Media
  • October 10, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Spark Sport wins broadcast rights to NZ Cricket fixtures

Spark Sport says it has broadcast rights to NZ Cricket fixtures from April 2020 with TVNZ as free to air partner.

Read more

Huffer and the Mental Health Foundation get lyrical about mental health

  • Advertising
  • October 10, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Huffer and the Mental Health Foundation get lyrical about mental health

Huffer has partnered with the Mental Health Foundation and Kiwi musicians support mental health awareness in a musical campaign by Reload & Smoke.

Read more

Education New Zealand aims to answer the tough questions

  • Advertising
  • October 9, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Education New Zealand aims to answer the tough questions

Education New Zealand has shinned the light on some of the joys of studying on our shores with the help of Special Group. The campaign message encourages potential international students to 'Ask New Anything', as they hear the benefits of studying in New Zealand from past students.

Read more

Stanley St Wellington welcomes five local hires

  • Movings/Shakings
  • October 9, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Stanley St Wellington welcomes five local hires

Stanley St has put a focus on local talent acquisitions. It's introducing five new roles into its Wellington office, including Aaron White as head of Stanley St Wellington.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit