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Virtual reality has the potential to revolutionise sponsorship by offering fans a huge range of experiences, but sponsors and agencies should keep it simple and use the technology to solve a problem, says Octagon's Adam Hodge.
Speaking at the Sponsorship News November conference at Sydney's National Art School, Hodge, Octagon's APAC head of strategy, said the agency had developed VR activations for a range of clients, including English Premier League giant Liverpool and its principal partner, Asian financial group Standard Chartered.
He said that the rise of VR, augmented reality and other technology such as binaural audio, gave brands enormous opportunities in the leveraging space – but only if the tech was used to solve real problems.
He said there were plenty of examples of brands tacking on a VR element to activations as “gimmicks” that had no real reason to be part of a campaign.
The best use of the technology was to solve a problem, or to provide a realistic experience that would never be available otherwise, he said.
"There are lots of people coming to us saying, 'oh can you build us a VR campaign?' but the best work is often simple ideas through simple channels. If a brand comes to me with a business problem, VR might be one component of solving that,” Hodge said.
Speaking about Octagon's VR work for Standard Chartered, Hodge said the campaign was rolled out in 13 Asian countries, and installed in shopping centres to engage new customers. The VR installation was visited 12,000 times and generated 4,900 new card applications.
The new business generated was more than quadruple that of the previous year's in-market campaign, while the VR work – 'Welcome to Anfield' – also generated 29 million impressions globally.
Hodge said the activation worked because the Liverpool partnership came with a problem – millions of Asian fans who would never get to visit Liverpool’s Anfield home ground – and VR offered a solution.
And while new technology offered infinite possibilities to sponsors and rights-holders, Hodge said the best activations were still "simple solutions".
"It's a very easy trap to fall in to – the thought that with VR you can do the impossible, so you should. Actually, some of the most powerful experiences are as close to reality as possible."