Virtual Reality Experiences with Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler AG, is the latest automobile company to embrace 360-degree video technology, as mobile virtual reality headsets such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR become increasingly available to consumers.
With an eye on consumers at both ends of the buying spectrum, the company’s American division has taken two very different marketing approaches with two of the brand’s vehicles.
VR with the Smart ForTwo Cabrio
Mercedes-Benz USA is offering consumers a way to experience the Smart For Two Cabrio ahead of its actual release this summer. The 360-degree video puts viewers in the passenger seat of a Cabrio driving down the streets of Miami with street dancers and other experiences happening around them, that they can view through the vehicle’s open roof.
“People are laughing as they go through it, discovering the Easter eggs you’re meant to find,” says Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services at Mercedes-Benz USA. “It’s not a mainstream marketing tactic, but we’re integrating the product and making it worth being at the tip of the virtual reality spear.”
According to Aikman, Samsung’s Gear VR has been the mobile headset of choice at dealer events and select showrooms where the experience is being showcased.
VR with Loki and the 2017 GLS
On the other end, Mercedes-Benz USA partnered with a dog for its second virtual reality marketing campaign. Loki the wolfdog is a mix of Siberian husky, Malamute and Arctic Wolf, has over 1 million Instagram followers. Mercedes-Benz USA allowed Loki’s owner, Kelly Lund, borrow the new 2017 GLS full-size SUV to film in the snowy terrain of Crested Butte, CO, with Matchstick Productions and Experius VR worked on the production side.
“It’s not a hard sell on the GLS, it’s about the experience and the story,” says Aikman. “We pushed the boundary, where it wasn’t just a single camera experience. You’re inside the vehicle, outside of the vehicle on the mountain with Loki and Kelly, and even had cameras mounted outside the vehicle.”
In order to reach a broader audience of consumers, the content is distributed in a wide variety of formats, Aikman says these 360-degree videos are also available on Facebook 360 and YouTube 360, as well as in traditional high definition versions.
“Virtual reality still has a way to go before it’s as good as an IMAX experience, but our experiment with Loki proved that this is compelling content,” Aikman says. “Everyone that tries it spends time looking all around the environment.”
What are Other Car Companies Doing?
With other car companies like Audi already adding virtual reality to the showroom experience using the HTC Vive or other such headset, Mercedes-Benz USA isn’t ready to jump on that bandwagon yet. “Not every consumer is comfortable with a VR headset,” says Aikman. “We don’t see it replacing an iPad or PC in the dealerships.”
Lexus also recently embraced virtual reality by sponsoring a narrative-driven 360-degree video for ABC’s Quantico TV series.