Is your agency ready to play the Virtual Reality game?

Ever since Facebook paid over $2 billion to acquire Oculus Rift, expectation has been growing about the impact it will have on the world of gaming and, more importantly, the world of business marketing and communication. Indeed, just this week Apple posted job descriptions looking to recruit Oculus Rift developers.

Apple is hardly alone in trying to master virtual reality. In the last 12 months companies from sectors as diverse as food and drink, oil and gas, energy, consumer goods and real estate sectors have rushed to create immersive virtual reality journeys. And to produce them those companies are turning to a small but growing set of digital agencies that have the expertise to make the still developmental (translation: buggy) Oculus Rift platform really come alive.

Recently, Chrysler became the latest automaker to create an Oculus Rift experience for its customers. Working with Wieden + Kennedy Portland, Chrysler created “Beneath the Surface” an Oculus Rift experience that led visitors to the 2014 Los Angeles Auto take a four minute 4-D immersive journey through the construction process of the new Chrysler 200. Other car companies that have embraced Oculus Rift include Nissan (working with AKQA) and Lexus, which created an Oculus Rift supercharged simulation driving game for the launch of its 2015 RC F Sports coupe.

In many ways creating a driving experience is an obvious brand marketing extension of Oculus Rift’s gaming capabilities. But, as Sustainly’s new Oculus Rift Trend Briefing demonstrates, the communication challenges that companies seek to solve using virtual reality tap into every part of business communication - everything from experiential marketing to employee engagement to learning and development and even sustainability. 

The companies experimenting with Oculus Rift aren’t just consumer brands – the Sustainly report profiles Oculus Rift project from companies as diverse as EDF Energy (working with Atticus Digital), Chuck E Cheese, Marriott (working with Relevant) and even a Dutch dairy company, FrieslandCampina, whose Thailand subsidiary created an Oculus Rift farm experience to teach kids about dairy farming.

As new players like Samsung and Sony prepare to enter the virtual reality game it seems clear that digital culture is about to jump to a whole new level of interactivity.  That’s going to mean companies and brands will expect their digital agencies to have virtual reality expertise. Those agencies will need to either acquire the programming and design talent needed for making Oculus Rift work at a brand level (as experiential specialist Drive Worldwide did this summer when it bought virtual reality agency Figure Digital), or they’ll have to upskill their current 3D visualization and Unity gaming specialists.

Either way, after years of fake promise, virtual reality appears here to stay. Is your agency ready to meet the challenge?

The Sustainly Oculus Rift briefing is free to download.

Learn more about our partner Atticus Digital.