Real Is Better. Virtual and Augmented Reality To communicate Sustainability

Virtual Reality (VR) is a trend to grow in the future:  the market is still small, but  according to Greenlight Insights it will come to a turnover of 38 billion dollars over the next ten years. The revolution that awaits VR is mainly Out-of-home, where it will allow consumers to cross the borders of one’s own home and intersect each other directly through technology. 

To mark progress in this field will be the devices. The actual development is guided by  Microsoft (HoloLens), Samsung Gear (VR), HTC (Live),  Facebook (Oculus Rift) and Snapchat (Spectacles). Some are exploring the possibility to use the VR also with smartphones, using simple glasses cardboard, as those distributed by Google.  

How can VR help spread Sustainability consciousness?

In 2015 the project The displaced from the New York Times, who triumphed at the Cannes Lions obtaining a Gran Prix, allowed users to immerse themselves in the lives of three children, refugees without many frills, aiming everything, with an immersive experience of VR technology, obtaining a double success, both as a news investigation and as a product innovation.

In 2016 Stella Artois BuyALadyADrink project was awarded in the Category People’s / VR at the Webby Awards, using AR to raise awareness among consumers of the importance of having access to clear water. Stella Artois and created with Unit9 a 360º split-screen VR film showing someone’s life before and after they have water access, (virtually) transporting the viewers in Honduras, where having clean water is a privilege for few and accessing clean drinking water can improve people’s lives.  The film was launched at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival: “The film uses 360º filming to make the experience more real and to give the audience the ability to ‘look around’ while the film takes place, creating a more immersive approach to documentary filmmaking.” (Unit9 website)

In fact,  ‘Layered’ research report, made by Mindshare UK and Neuro-Insight, demonstrated that AR experiences drive 45% higher levels of attention than other forms of media like TV or online browsing.

The progressive “normalization” of AR or VR experiences in the communication of CSR will probably soon join the introduction of users’ information, extracted from their social profiles, or from the data archived in the – more and more spread out- wearable technologies.

To succeed, the brand must have something relevant to say: an innovation, an experience, an achievement. The AR or VR success is not only linked to the unique story you are going to tell, but also to the exclusivity and accountability of the information revealed. 

Unfortunately there is also a misuse of this powerful technology, used as greenwashing videos, laying on controversial facts . 

Obviously creativity+technology is a powerful tool for sustainability storytelling. But “transparency” remains an essential watchword . 

The AR and VR services carry with them an important value: they communicate the ‘self confidence’ of a brand that has no need to hide and that does not fear a direct contact with its audience. Almost an obligation for contemporary marketing – at least for CSR marketing – asked to know how to combine ethical business + branding for the benefit of its audience, the Planet and People on it.

Image Credits: Dominika Gorecka Illustration for magazine ‘MUTANTE’ Coimbra, Portugal

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Author: elena grinta

I have been dealing with communication for 20 years, I have worked in marketing for large international and Italian companies and I know the mechanisms of advertising persuasion. I decided to invest my know-how and my skills to use the available resources of companies (budgets but also human capital) in positive transformation. Because to students from all over the world I teach at Purpose Brands in Catholic University I wish to give more and more examples of virtuous companies that have invested for the future, of everyone (and there are already many!). Because if we watch, without acting, without taking responsibility, we have no excuse.

Purposeful Communication / Trends