- Alcoholic beverage giant Diageo is using virtual reality (VR) to provide people of legal drinking age an immersive experience that illustrates the dangers of binge drinking through a first-person, multi-perspective story, per a press release. This isn't the company's first go at the tactic: Last October, it used its Johnnie Walker brand and VR to immerse consumers in a fatal drunk driving crash in a campaign called "Decisions."
- That effort garnered almost 14 million views in its first four months live, and 73% of viewers reported they were more likely to stop other people from drinking and driving after experiencing it. Seventy-five percent stated they would start planning ahead with a designated driver instead of drinking and driving. The new experience is an extension of Decisions and was led by Diageo's Digital and Technology Partnerships teams along with cinematic experience company Jaunt.
- VR was chosen for the campaign because "it gives us the proper medium to explore numerous dangerous drinking situations in a very real way," according to James Thompson, chief marketing and innovation officer, Diageo North America. "Telling people about the effects of irresponsible decision-making when drinking is one thing — but giving them the opportunity to see, hear and feel what can happen because of even one bad choice is a potential game changer," he said in a statement.
VR offers marketers a new method of bringing storytelling to an audience in an extremely rich media format. Diageo has leveraged the immersive technology in several different ways across its brands, pointing to the diverse use cases VR can have, even as some in the industry question whether it can see mass adoption past niche spaces like gaming.
Earlier this year, Guinness, which Diageo owns, installed VR experiences in store locations of the U.K. grocer Tesco in order to enhance taste tests of its new line of brews. The binge-drinking awareness campaign takes a more grave tone, but doubles as both a good way to get the Diageo name in front of consumers — interactive VR experiences, when done well, serve as a huge draw on their own, as the initial Johnnie Walker video shows — and also an important public service announcement.
VR is proven to pack an emotional wallop as well, a valuable quality to have at a time when many consumers are demanding more resonance in their marketing. Studies by Nielsen and YuMe published last year found VR brand experiences garner a 27% higher reaction in users than traditional 2-D content and a 17% higher reaction than flatly presented 360-degree video.