They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to businesses and organizations, everyone from the oldest dogs to the youngest pups need to pull out something novel, and they need to do it soon. Television commercials get skipped over on PVR, email blasts are deleted unread a dozen at a time, AdBlock takes care of the junk on everyone’s favorite sites, and don’t even get a millennial started on Instagram influencers.

Burnt-out though we all may be, we aren’t unwilling to be dazzled. In this world of clicks and shares, we’re all waiting for the next big thing, and a number of brands have hit on it – virtual reality.

The VR marketing dunk tank

Virtual reality is all about immersing the viewer in an experience and a story, and the technology that most successfully does so is 360-degree 3D virtual reality. This level of VR is achieved with a 3D video camera equipped with 360-degree filming capability with high def audio and video, which comprehensively captures the human experience all the way from the big sweeping picture to the most minute tone-setting details.

Thanks to leading VR 3D video cameras designed for affordability and ease of use, this technology is within reach of organizations ranging from major enterprises to the smallest upstarts, making it likely we’ll see more and more brands making their mark with truly immersive experiences.

Here are a few that are already capitalizing on virtual reality’s magnetic marketing appeal.

Taking a trip

One of the most natural applications of virtual reality and 3D video is showing people places they’ve never been, and maybe even getting them excited to go. That’s exactly what Marriott Hotels has been doing with the virtual travel transporter they’re calling Teleporter.

Not only does Teleporter immerse viewers in the experience of exotic, far-flung locales, but it also gives them a peek at the luxurious accommodations and amenities Marriott offers in each of these destinations. Smart, savvy and forward-thinking.

Walking a mile in their shoes

TOMS shoes already has a major brand differentiator. You probably know it. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair to someone in need.

TOMS decided to incorporate virtual reality into this charitable effort, effectively pairing a differentiator with a differentiator. The brand harnesses the storytelling power of this technology to take viewers along on a journey of empathy as a TOMS customer travels from Venice Beach, California to deliver shoes to children in Colombia, effectively showing consumers how their buying choices have the power to change a child’s life. This is an absolute A+ use of this technology.

Doing it yourself

Big box home improvement stores all heavily court the DIY market, but it was Lowe’s going the extra mile in attracting these handy and would-be handymen and women by introducing in-store virtual reality training clinics.

These how-to experiences teach viewers basic do-it-yourself skills and provide them with information on the supplies they’ll need in order to complete a project (conveniently located in the Lowe’s store in which viewers are already standing). Lowe’s found that when using the VR training, customers had a 40% greater retention of steps to complete a project – and most likely a greater chance of making purchases at Lowe’s.

Going green

If you think VR marketing is all about profit margins, you’ll want to take a look at what these next two organizations have been up to with this cutting-edge technology.

Greenpeace recently launched a 360-degree 3D video app that gives viewers the inimitable experience of what life is like aboard one of this major charity’s ships, and also gives viewers an up close and personal view of the work Greenpeace does in the Amazon rainforest. This leading environmental organization has also been incorporating VR into their booths at festivals and fundraisers and has seen their sign-up rates double as a result.

Protecting the planet

Like Greenpeace, Conservation International knows that 3D 360 VR was practically designed for showcasing the natural beauty of this earth – and for inspiring people to want to protect that natural beauty.

Conservation International has produced stunning VR films showcasing the Amazon rainforest and the coral reef in Indonesia, using local visionaries to tell the stories of their conservation efforts as well as the stories of these unforgettable locations. Conservation International is currently inviting viewers to vote on the setting for their next VR film – Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, or the Savannah.

A trip into the future

As the brilliant minds in marketing truly take hold of 3D 360-degree virtual reality technology, we will find ourselves increasingly presented with some of the most stunning imagery and immersive storytelling the marketing world has ever produced. For this phase, most of us probably won’t even mind being marketed to as it will be well worth the trade. Especially compared to a 20-year-old trying to tell all her followers about the magic of detox tea.


Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.