Villing & Company

How 'The Revenant' Used Virtual Reality as a Marketing Tool

Virtual reality (VR) is a hot topic these days. In fact, it has probably reached buzzword status. In marketing circles, the medium is still in its infancy as a tool for brands to use. In fact, many still have doubts about its viability.

Insert into the discussion “The Revenant”, a newly-released motion picture from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu starring Leonardo DiCaprio and based off the novel by Michael Punke. In advance of the movie’s release, 20th Century Fox ran a virtual reality campaign that transports viewers to the rugged terrain travelled by DiCaprio’s character – 19th century frontiersman, Hugh Glass.

As marketers begin to warm up to virtual reality as a tool in the marketing mix, this is the type of campaign that makes sense. I’ll give you two reasons why – storytelling and visuals.

What VR offers is the ability to be completely immersed in an experience. For marketers to leverage that, you first need a compelling story. It may not involve traveling 200 miles after being mauled by a bear, but you have a narrative. It’s really about going back to basics. Storytelling is often the best way to get there. You want your audience to understand the “why” and “how” behind your brand. No matter what tools you use, those essential elements don’t change. However, the way in which you tell your stories does.

That brings us to visuals. Obviously, the essence of VR is steeped in visuals. The campaign for The Revenant nailed it. You’ll notice that text is used to complement the striking visuals of Leonardo DiCaprio crawling on the frozen tundra. The beautiful vistas and compelling imagery are the focus, and text is used for accentuation. Music is artfully incorporated to give the user a complete experience as well.

The campaign seems to have worked well, as The Revenant opened to rave reviews and brought home $38 million in its opening weekend. It also won three awards at the Golden Globes and had the most nominations in this year's Oscar field with 12.

So What’s In It for You?

I didn’t write this article to compel you to quickly add virtual reality into your marketing plan for 2016. If it fits within your brand, go for it. If not, maybe wait back and see how the technology develops.

My point is this: no matter what tools you use, you should tell your brand story with compelling visuals and narratives.

Whether it’s print, TV or social media you need quality imagery and you need a compelling story. I’m obviously not the first person to ever say this. It’s been discussed on the Villing & Company blog numerous times.

Wherever you travel down the road of marketing, make sure you pack a good story and compelling visuals. They may not save you from any ravenous bears, but they might protect you from ravenous competition.

Filed Under: Creative, Virtual Reality

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