VR Marketing Enters 2017

VR Marketing Enters 2017
By Charlie Fink

One of the most remarkable aspects about CES this year was the number of companies (Intel, Samsung and Honda) using VR to tell their stories.

Samsung turned people upside down to demonstrate the power of its mobile GearVR headset.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich held his company’s CES press event inside virtual reality, providing 260 Oculus Rift VR units to those attending. They reportedly spent weeks running miles of wire through the event room to pull it off. Laura Anderson, a spokeswoman for Intel said, “This is the most technically difficult event we have ever done.” Barf bags were distributed, but not needed. Krzanich said that VR will likely change the way we work and play. He showed what’s it’s like to jump off a cliff, and demonstrated how a technician might use VR to inspect a solar array, all powered of course by Intel’s technology.

Intel used VR to push a room full of reporters off a cliff.

[Tweet “This is the most technically difficult event we have ever done.”]
Samsung claimed the mantle as the 2016 mobile VR winner when it announced its GearVR has sold an impressive industry leading five million headsets. To celebrate, Samsung staged a flashy carnival attraction called “The Gear VR 4D Experience”, marrying their Gear VR headsets mounted with S7 smartphones with motion platforms to give users a theme park quality experience. By Saturday morning, the attraction was completely booked up for the weekend. Hundreds watched as those lucky enough to get a turn were bounced around, twisted and turned upside down to simulate skeleton sled racing, air acrobatics, a boat race and a spaceship racing experience. Monitors showed a high definition version of what the riders were seeing, although inside the headset, users saw the classic VR “screen door” of the low resolution smart phone screen, in which visible pixels turn the most high definition images into soft focus. Many users looked green as they stumbled off the motion platforms. Still, no barf bags needed.

People lined up by the hundreds to experience Samsung’s theme park quality ride at CES.

Honda used a custom VR installation in its booth, created with Dreamworks (using characters from their recently released “Trolls” animated movie) to take users on a virtual car ride through a 3D Las Vegas to show how digital technology in the car might someday interact with locations it approaches. The developers built-in some mild gamification (click on Trolls to earn points) to make it more than a passive experience. Again, there was a long line waiting to strap on an Oculus Rift headset to see what it was about.

The Honda Dream Drive CES demo includes a VR experience where geo-tagged points of interest and content appear that users can interact with, such as a restaurant, with an option to make a reservation from the car.

Last, but hardly least, was Kino-mo, which was showing off its amazing Hypervsn retail promotion product, which uses a spinning LEDs to project animated, floating, holographic 3D images into space. Kino-mo got the attention of everyone who saw their amazing holographic projections. Their small booth in the crowded Sands Convention Center at the Venetian, about a mile from the LVCC, was absolutely mobbed. The UK based company was rapidly taking pre-orders from marketers who managed to push their way through the crush of curious onlookers to representatives in the booth.

CES is exhausting, making these chairs one of the most popular nonVR attractions at the LVCC.

Also mention worthy was the highly visible American Greetings (AG) tent opposite the central hall of the LVCC. Seen by everyone, and visited by many curiosity seekers, AG sought to remind us of a simpler time, when a handwritten card was the way to reach someone, as opposed to a lazy like on Facebook or Twitter. AG artists added beautiful calligraphy to personalize cards for people who could then drop finished cards in snail mail right there in their tent. The whole demonstration struck me as a futile, expensive marketing gesture, for a cute, sweet product, slowly dying as digital generations succeed the old. It reminded me there is a cost to our progress, which is leading us into a cold, more fractured world, one where we are more likely to meet new people in a virtual world than the real one.

A futile attempt to remind gadget geeks of life’s simpler pleasures.


The psychology of paper greetings relies on the surprise inside.

Charlie Fink is an executive, writer and consultant with over three decades of experience in media, technology and the intersection between them. As an avid storyteller, entrepreneur, and award winning producer, Charlie has built a career building businesses across industries. With his tenure as an executive in companies such as Disney, Virtual World, and AOL, Charlie has honed an extensive knowledge and expertise.