Will VR or AR have the most impact in our industry?

Remember the world that Back to the Future II predicted? Well, it’s happened. Some of it at least. We’ve got video-calling on TVs, voice-commanded home automation, hand-held tablets and even villainous businessmen/politicians (Biff looking quite familiar now, isn’t he?).

Most importantly, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become reality. Finally, time to realise that Marty McFly dream!

Both technologies alter how we see the world and they’re changing the way brands can communicate. In simple terms, VR gives you the ability to have a wander around the moon, while AR means you can make a meteor shower land perfectly on Walter in payroll’s head (without causing any long-lasting damage). Here’s a look at how brands are using these new technologies.

Successful use of VR

VR works with a headset to completely immerse you in your experience. A great example of a brand using VR to their advantage is Boursin and their Boursin Sensorium.

It combined VR with a soundtrack, moving chairs, scented fans and tastings. The VR experience is essentially a journey inside in a fridge from the perspective of a Borrower. The journey shows you the different ingredients that go into Boursin’s products, highlighting just how many flavour choices they have.

The result of all this cheesy VR use was brie-lliant, with product awareness rising by up to 44%. Really gouda stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree. Terrible puns aside, the campaign worked.

Successful use of AR

AR is a prime opportunity to make your reality a little more interesting, be it by catching all those Pokémon or helping you pass medical school with an AR learning application.

What to do when faced with a tiger making a beeline for you at your bus stop on a busy London street? Do you run, hide, or whip out your phone because your Instagram followers have to see this?

Pepsi attempted to answer this question with their Unbelievable Bus Shelter, in a bid to make people #LiveForNow. They used AR technology to turn an otherwise mundane bus shelter wall into a fake window with a view into the bizarre and farfetched. From the tiger to aliens landing and a robot takeover of the street, the campaign offered a memorable distraction.

Not only did this campaign win a Webby Award for Augmented Reality, but it amassed almost 8 million views, increased PepsiCo’s YouTube subscribers by 62,000 users, and Pepsi Max’s market share grew by 1.2%.

Clearly The Life of Pi isn’t the only story to make an impact with a CGI tiger.

VR or AR?

Both VR and AR provide valuable advances for marketing and PR and both will have a place in communications. However, one lends itself slightly better to brand stories and campaigns.

While VR has the ability to transport customers anywhere, imaginable or not, it is limited to a headset. AR has the accessibility of working on a smartphone, or in Pepsi’s case, an Oyster card.