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A Year in Creativity: VR

How a technolgy stepped into the limelight at Cannes Lions 2016

Very rarely in a lifetime do we actually experience the invention of a new medium. 2016 was the year virtual reality truly arrived in Cannes. Seven sessions included VR in their title at Cannes Lions 2016 and many more referenced the new technology.

created on Wednesday 7 Dec 2016

Kevin Kelly
Experiences are going to be the new currency. You’re going to buy experiences, download them and share them. VR will become the most social of all the social media.
Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, Wired magazine 

Samsung, recognised as the 2016 Creative Marketer of the Year, filled the basement of the Palais with VR technology, including a rollercoaster experience that was not for the faint-hearted. Certain VIPs and lucky VR thrill seekers also sampled an extra-special secret VR experience produced by the Deep Water theatre company.

As confused brains struggled with the nominal state between the two realities, users were stunned by the immersive power of the technology. Kevin Kelly, Founder of Wired, boldly predicted:

“We are moving with VR into an internet of experiences where there are things that are felt, emotional, shared. Experiences are going to be the new currency. You’re going to buy experiences, download them and share them. VR will become the most social of all the social media.”

Meanwhile, Deloitte reported VR is on track to have its first billion-dollar year. There’s so much going on with VR, so we’ve boiled down the basics of what you need to know about it.

The technology companies are very excited by it

What does Facebook look like, and feel like in VR?
Marc Mathieu, Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung Electronics America

Marc Mathieu, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics America, said: “What’s amazing about VR when you start to think about it beyond a storytelling platform, [it’s] almost as an operating system. For instance, what does Facebook look like, and feel like in VR. How do you start to think about it beyond just a medium to tell stories and use it to reinvent not just creativity, but as we like to say at Samsung, communication, commerce and compassion?” 

Virtual Realitiy

Directors are also excited by it

“I am fascinated by virtual reality,” said Alejandro González Iñárritu when he was at Cannes, the Oscar (and Lion) winning director, writer and producer of ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Birdman’ fame. “When I was making ‘Birdman’ and ‘The Revenant’ I wanted them to be very sensorial experiences. And in that sense, I think VR will put the audience in a very extreme, experiential way."

"I think it’s a fascinating thing that is about to launch. We will have to explore the grammar of how it works; the idea of 360 degrees - giving the audience the power to choose what they look at and when. Normally, I am choosing that one frame and editing out 95% of it. That multi-challenge that we have is now super exciting”.

It offers new opportunities to publishers

The New York Time’s ‘NYT VR’ project won both the Mobile and Entertainment Grands Prix, proving perhaps how traditional media outlets are waking up to the journalistic possibilities of VR to create immersive experiences for their customers. Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman went so far as to claim VR “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward”.
See the full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive

VR will be good for creativity. Eventually.

As VR grows, creativity will matter more than ever. “We’ve got to remember that technology enables opportunity,” says BBH founder and all-round legend Sir John Hegarty, “but it’s creativity that enables value. We say to clients [they] must not under invest in that, that’s what’s really important; that’s what will lead to success”.

But the industry is desperate to extend VR’s reach, allowing as many people as possible to experience it.“To date it’s still been about a silo-ed experience, perhaps at an event,” explains adam&eveDDB’s Karen Boswell. “It can be packaged up for reach online, but we’re excited about headsets being in living rooms, and getting round the silo-ed nature of VR”.

Technology enables opportunity, but it’s creativity that enables value
Sir John Hegarty, Founder - Creative, BBH

Gamers will get there first

“VR is a huge part of what we’re doing at PlayStation right now”, says Dr Richard Marks of PlayStation Magic Labs. “Of course our focus is on games, but I think it’s really neat how much sharing is going in with VR and all these different things are sharing what works in VR and what doesn’t. Maybe gaming will be a leader in that field initially because we know how to do a lot of things, but a lot of that knowledge will spread out into other industries as well."

VR will properly come of age for the next generation. And as this multi-Gold winning campaign from McCann New York shows, it can already inspire them as children.

See the credits in the Cannes Lions Archive

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