Gear VR 2nd Anniversary Marks Rise of Immersive Tech in Brand Storytelling

From live entertainment to Hollywood, retail and beyond, brands are using next generation immersive technology, such as virtual reality (VR), to stay top of mind with consumers inundated with brand messaging. Why? Immersive technology, like content produced for Samsung Gear VR with Controller powered by Oculus, gives consumers access to authentic content from which to get to know the brands that are creating it.

This unique opportunity, and the future of VR applications, for brands was discussed among panelists representing brands Airbnb, L’Oréal, Oculus and Samsung, as well as Theo Rossi, actor, producer and philanthropist, during an event last night in New York City marking the two-year anniversary of Samsung  Gear VR.


(From left to right) Forbes’s Alex Konrad, Samsung’s Tom Harding, Actor Theo Rossi, LOreals Rachel Weiss, Oculus’s Andy Mathis and Airbnbs Wren Dougherty speak at the Samsung Gear VR 2nd Anniversary Panel on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Samsung)


Reflecting on the launch of Gear VR, Tom Harding, director of immersive products at Samsung Electronics America, said “Samsung is about democratizing the cutting edge and when we designed Gear VR, we designed it to be VR for everyone, powered just by your mobile phone.”

“We’re incredibly proud how industries are adopting this technology and bringing it into their workflow,” Harding added.

With immersive tech platforms evolving rapidly, brands are discovering new ways to enable consumers to experience richer and more authentic content around events, ideas and everyday use of their brand’s products and services. Customers and companies are intertwined, and as a result, are benefiting in untold ways.

One proof point is L’Oréal, which recently announced a partnership with Samsung for its NYX Professional Makeup brand to provide consumers an immersive virtual reality makeup tutorial experience in stores with top makeup gurus.

“[With VR] we really think about problems we can solve for the customer. We believe that education utilizing VR is their gateway to a beauty guru and also supplements the retail experience. With over three years of R&D around using VR, we think that this is only the beginning,” said Rachel Weiss, VP of Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship at L’Oréal USA.


“[It’s really about] the emotional ties that you can have to content and brands, for that matter, and that’s what VR really brings.

It brings deeply immersive experiences that make you feel something.”

– Andy Mathis, head of mobile partnerships & business development at Oculus


The VR makeup experience lets the consumer choose their own pathway through the application to personalize the experience.

For Airbnb, which is exploring ways immersive technology like virtual reality can enhance travel for consumers, it’s not about trying to replace real world experiences but finding places where the brand is already interacting with consumers remotely.

“With VR you can discover or advertise more unique experiences because you have the fall back of these technologies that keep you connected. What VR can bring us is more understanding of what you’re going to do [on a trip], it can remove anxiety and bring more context,” explained Wren Dougherty, hardware engineer for Airbnb.

Andy Mathis, head of mobile partnerships & business development at Oculus, sees it as a “privilege” to go to work every day and focus on the impact of VR on our everyday lives.

“I can’t be more excited about this space right now,” said Mathis and recalled how a VR experience produced for a scene in the Disney movie “Coco” intrigued his son and made him feel as if he participated in the actual scene after watching the movie in theaters.

“[It’s really about] the emotional ties that you can have to content and brands, for that matter, and that’s what VR really brings. It brings deeply immersive experiences that make you feel something,” explained Mathis.


(From left to right) Forbes’s Alex Konrad, Samsungs Tom Harding, Actor Theo Rossi, LOreals Rachel Weiss, Oculus’s Andy Mathis, and Airbnbs Wren Dougherty speak at the Samsung Gear VR 2nd Anniversary Panel on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Samsung)


Theo Rossi, actor, producer and technology enthusiast, said for him, and Hollywood, the possibilities are endless when they’re powered by VR. He recently filmed the movie “Ghosts of War” in Bulgaria and in addition to filming traditional 2D movie scenes, they filmed many of the scenes in virtual reality for additional behind-the-scenes content to support the film.

“Every moment that we weren’t filming the film we were doing something with VR. We are in a binge watching culture, we want what we want. With VR you have more of a connection to the content, to the brand, and you’re in it. It’s happening now, and as someone who’s producing content and starring in content, the possibilities are endless.”


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