Freeman Launches Virtual Reality Offerings for Event Marketers

Lisa Plummer Savas

Freeman has launched a portfolio of virtual products and services for exhibitors, organizers and corporate marketers seeking innovative technology solutions to help drive audience engagement, transform the customer experience and achieve optimal business results.

The new VR offers are part of Freeman’s initial rollout of its VR portfolio, intended to increase the impact of technology and digital advances in its brand experience category while helping clients drive event strategy that leverages data to deliver more relevant experiences and meaningful audience connections.

“As the demand for immersive experiences grows, we knew we needed to bring virtual reality to the brand experience category,” explained Richard Maranville, Freeman executive vice president and chief digital officer.

He continued, “VR has been the ‘it’ technology for some time, but what we’re doing with the technology is really going to change the way our industry works and how marketers interact with their audiences.”

Freeman’s five new VR offerings include:

●      VR Design Explorer: Enables users to experience and walk through their experiences, designs, venues and/or events in true stereoscopic 3-D as if they were there.

●      VR Product Explorer: Hands-on 3-D virtual reality gives audiences the ability to interact with products that were once too big, unwieldy, dangerous or expensive to demonstrate.

●      VR Films and Videos: Transports audiences into dramatically different environments and times with powerful 360-degree stereoscopic storytelling. Computer-generated graphics or immersive on-location video shoots make audiences feel like they’re there.

●      Live VR Streaming: Users can experience events, shows, concerts and other live events as if they were live in the audience through virtual reality video streams. Viewers can watch through compatible VR headsets, pannable Web players or brandable custom mobile apps.

●      Custom VR Experiences: Freeman’s new interactive content studio creates new, custom VR experiences including virtual worlds, games, interactive apps and learning programs.

In addition, Freeman plans to publish new VR guides, articles and applications of VR to help guide clients through the growing “VR revolution.”

“With virtual reality, we believe it’s a matter of when – not if – the technology will change the brand experience category,” said Wilson Tang, Freeman vice president of digital experience.

He added, “We believe the immersive ability of VR is an opportunity to tell far more engaging stories and to teach far more interactive lessons. More importantly, we want to work with clients to help evolve this technology, as it changes the design process.”

One of Freeman’s clients, Omega Watches, was one of the first to try a Custom VR Experience for its traveling boutique roadshow, previewed March 18 at Shin Kong Place mall in Beijing for its VIP clients.

According to Austin Powers, Freeman XP director of immersive and interactive for the Asia-Pacific region, Freeman’s content studio created custom content for “A Journey to the Moon,” a space-themed VR experience designed to coincide with the launch of Omega’s new Speedmaster Moonwatch.

“Omega’s clients know and love the story of the Speedmaster Moonwatch, the first and only watch that has been to the moon, and to this day the only watch certified for extravehicular activity,” explained Powers.

He continued, “But while they know the story, none of them, of course, have experienced the journey to the moon firsthand. So, this time instead of telling them the story, we wanted to create an immersive experience that would allow them to live the story and take their own journey to the moon, creating a strong connection between the audience, the brand and the product.”

Freeman worked with Omega to create a special presentation regional managers could use to help build audience anticipation for the VR experience, as well as built private viewing booths for each of the high-end watch company’s 21 boutiques throughout China. 

Using subtle references to the original “moon watch” journey via original NASA recordings from the Apollo 11 mission that took place July 20, 1969, the VR experience took viewers on an immersive journey that included a launch, landing and brief moonwalk that allowed guests to “see” their footsteps appear on the moon’s surface. 

According to Chen Yun, Omega event marketing manager, boutique clients reacted very positively to the innovative experience. 

“They all loved it, but it does require a nice introduction and private room to give it a more special feeling, said Chen.

She added, “It was a great idea for the event. I think it’s good to use VR when you have good content to show and match the event theme.”

While VR still is in the early adopter phase for the consumer market, the technology shows great promise as a compelling platform that can be used in a wide range of applications for the trade show and events industry.

“Live experiences like trade shows and events are some of the most appropriate situations to use VR content for a number of reasons,” Powers explained.

He continued, “The sense of immersion and the fact we place the audience directly into the narrative creates a sense of place and being that other mediums simply cannot achieve – when you are in VR, you are part of the story. It also allows us to alter time and place without limitation, meaning we can bring our audiences places and show them things otherwise physically impossible or impractical for them to experience any other way, whether it be traversing the inside of a car engine from the point of view of a drop of oil, witnessing a Palaeolithic tribal war, scuba diving on an alien planet or taking a journey to the moon.”

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