VR Will Be Bigger Than We Think

For the past few weeks we’ve invested in demonstrating Virtual Reality to Ketchum’s employees, clients and partners. It’s indescribable. The only way to understand the potential of this technology is through context. We all know VR is going to be huge… and after these past few weeks, I firmly believe it’s going to be even bigger than we think.

I was so proud when our Worldwide President Barri Rafferty launched Ketchum VR at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June. And after helping 200+ colleagues and clients with their first VR experience, I will NEVER get tired of watching their faces the moment they realize how crazy good this technology is. People seem unanimous in the amazement and wonder of your mind being so completely tricked, that you feel you are in a different place. So much so, that I’m participating in a panel at Chicago’s Social Media Week on VR where I will take people from Virtual Reality directly to the Main Stage to get their immediate feedback and impressions on the experience.

Obviously, the immediate applications for VR are in entertainment. Ketchum is a member agency of the VR Society, which recently sponsored an amazing conference in Hollywood called VR On The Lot. Studios, creators, agencies, and entertainment firms gathered together with a passion I have never seen before at a conference. Everyone was electric about each panel, demo and hallway conversation had. My top two highlights were as follows…

VR is PR:
Right now, the technology isn’t fully adopted. It’s expensive. So the opportunity right now is to create something so amazing that media has to cover it – and people have to share it. This is the perfect opportunity for those of us in communications to do some groundbreaking work at the early stages.

VR Will Change Who I Am as a Brand:
Black-Eyed Peas front-man Will.I.Am said, “Artists used to say ‘check out my album’.  Now, I want to say ‘Check out my world’.” This profound statement was what everyone talked about. You can now bring people inside of your craft and the process behind it, giving audiences an unprecedented view into the artist’s mind.

Our CEO Rob Flaherty articulated the opportunity for communicators by saying, “Take consumers to places they WOULDN’T, COULDN’T, OR SHOULDN’T go.” That is now the rally cry for all communicators. We constantly struggle to articulate Reasons To Believe and Product Differentiation – now we can show them. You can now say to your consumers, “I make the best ____ in the world.  Let me show you…” in a scalable, interesting way.

Recognizing this opportunity, Ketchum, and the larger Omnicom network of agencies, have been working together to address real client challenges, raise awareness with demos of the most recent software and hardware, and build understanding between our specialties around the potential opportunities ahead for all of our clients.

The final reason I believe this will be bigger than anticipated is that our internal VR community is incredibly popular. Ketchum was recently selected to partner with Facebook on their Workplace pilot and we created quite a few communities, all with different themes. Our Global VR Community is one of the busiest on the site, with posters sharing news and links from all over the world with unbridled enthusiasm.

So yeah, this is going to change your life. The question you have to ask is, “How is it going to change my business?”

Ben Foster is SVP Digital Strategist in Chicago and an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University. He loves surfacing technology news and geek culture on Twitter @benphoster. He has seen 67 Phish shows, caught three foul balls at baseball games, and plays a frost mage named Killosaurus in World of Warcraft.