The Evolution of Storytelling

How brands are using AR and VR technology as part of their marketing campaigns for films and television shows.
Created in partnership with Unity
Delegates have been experiencing VR at Cannes Lions for several years.

The film and television industries use technology to engage, delight and surprise their audiences. Now we're seeing these brands integrate technology into their marketing campaigns to bring their on-screen stories into the worlds of their audiences.

Immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality represent the most powerful storytelling medium we've ever seen. In today's post, we'll explore how entertainment brands are using these amazing new capabilities to promote their properties.

Virtual reality (VR) allows us to transport people to other places - real places that we've captured as live 360 video, or completely synthetic, fantastical places created with computer graphics. In a VR headset, we're fully immersed in worlds, and in well-designed experiences, we're so present and engaged in what we are doing that we forget about the outside world. With augmented reality (AR), we can weave digital magic into the real world by overlaying graphics - bringing stories to life on a tabletop, a child's playroom, or in a forest. The world is our canvas and our storyboard.

AR and VR remove the barrier between the viewer and the story. Because these are digital media, this technology allows storytellers to connect with viewers online, in a way that feels as if they're having a shared experience while providing the freedom for the viewer to enjoy the story at a time and place of their own choosing.



Brands are already employing AR and VR to deliver deeply immersive, memorable experiences. These activations have high engagement, build positive brand association, and ultimately drive tangible business outcomes. When incorporated into marketing campaigns along with more traditional media such as print and mobile advertising, these experiences can maximise impact while still reaching mass audiences. While brands are investing in AR and VR marketing content across many different sectors, today we will highlight how five well-recognised entertainment properties are harnessing AR and VR technology to promote their films and TV shows.



Walmart and DreamWorks Animation invited fans into the Hidden World of How to Train Your Dragon through a VR experience

To promote the upcoming film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Walmart brought a VR experience to their parking lots across the US from February - April 2019. The experience took users on a five-minute journey through the dragon world featured in the film. People waiting in line were able to watch the VR experience on laptops and were able to buy memorabilia from the film.



Disney-Pixar used VR to expand the world of their film Coco

In its first ever VR experience, Disney-Pixar invited fans to meet the characters of the film Coco before the release of the film. Coco VR, winner of the Silver Lion in the Digital Craft category, can be experienced as a single player or multiplayer mode with up to four people. In one of the most beautiful VR experiences to date, players can customise their avatar, teleport around the plaza and engage in a number of activities, including taking selfies with silly hats and moustaches, watching the trailer for the film, listening to a skeleton band perform music, and dance on a stage where a crowd of fans clap and mimic your movements.

The experience allowed fans to learn more about the film through an art studio filled with concept art from the film that shares an explanation behind each work. Pixar used the VR experience to actually expand the world of Coco.

Winter came through wearable AR headsets to promote the final season of HBO's Game of Thrones

Hot on the heels of Game of Thrones'  2018 Bronze Lion win for Excellence in Media Execution, the creative team looked to immersive AR as a new way to engage enthusiasts ahead of the highly anticipated premiere of this year's final season. Located at several AT&T stores across the US, fans could enter an installation decorated like a Game of Thrones museum and put on a Magic Leap headset that mixed the physical and digital world. People got to experience the icy chill of interacting with a White Walker. They could walk to a wall of ice and pick up a Dragon Glass knife to stab a Walker who came through a portal in the wall, or pick up a physical torch with AR flames to light the White Walkers on fire.



Universal gave fans the ability to chase, capture, and breed dinosaurs to promote Jurassic World

The mobile AR app called Jurassic World Alive brings dinosaurs into each player's physical world. Players can create hybrid creatures in the lab, battle teams of dinosaurs, earn rewards, and share experiences across social channels. Using location-based technology, players can explore the surrounding area to find Jurassic World dinosaurs, including new breeds that are more awe-inspiring and terrifying than ever.



Warner Bros and JK Rowling allow fans to experience magic first hand in a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR experience

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR experience allows fans to interact with magical creatures from the film and cast spells. The experience begins with a suitcase laying on the floor of a dark room. The case opens with a flick of the wand and players are transported to a shed where they go through a series of challenges involving Newt's fantastic beasts, potions, spell books, and "jars of oddities". The experience continues with additional encounters with fantastic beasts.

The original experience performed so well with fans that they added more into the experience and re-launched it.

Films can be so immersive, but traditional marketing is not. AR and VR allow us to bring that immersive quality into the marketing and promotion of entertainment IP like never before. Incorporating this technology into their marketing campaigns allowed these brands to extend the life of their IP, expand the world of their IP, and create memorable, visceral experiences for fans that lead to deeper connections.

You don't have to go "all-in" on using this tech. You can incorporate it as part of your traditional marketing campaign. This would be an additional tactic in your marketing campaign along with more traditional tactics such as print, mobile ads, etc.

In the final months leading up to Cannes, we're getting more excited to participate in the event and see how other brands are continuing to incorporate AR and VR tech into their marketing campaigns.

Are you going to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and are interested in how you can incorporate this technology into your marketing campaign? Let's meet.

Or, if you're interested in checking out how other brands are using Unity to incorporate AR and VR into their marketing campaigns, visit this web page.