VR: Moving Us from Awe to Action

VR: Moving Us from Awe to Action
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By Dave Marsey, EVP/Managing Director, DigitasLBi San Francisco

It's hard to miss Samsung's impressive Virtual Reality presence at the Palais des Festival in Cannes. I think I had more fun watching visitors experience it than actually strapping on a headset.

Well, on second thought, I enjoyed experiencing it myself more. And that’s because after attending the session, Samsung Presents: a VR Creators Experience, I have a new appreciation for why VR is such a big deal. The panelists spoke in visceral terms to describe the experience. Eddy Moretti, CCO of Vice, described the “awe” of going beyond the frame as “magical, addictive.”

Yelena Rachitsky, Creative Producer at Oculus, boldly stated that “with VR, catharsis is not happening vicariously, it is happening to you.”

And from Chris Milk, CEO of Within, “VR will lead to the democratization of the human experience.”

I walked out in awe of what VR represents as well as a greater understanding as to why Facebook paid what they did for Oculus. But I was particularly struck by how purposeful VR can be for charitable giving – which is where it becomes a major player in the space.

As we saw from Monday night’s Cannes Lions winners, we’ve moved beyond awarding charitable work that simply tugs at the heartstrings. Rather, work that drives tangible results -- like moving product -- is being recognized.

Here’s a great example. Charity: Water partnered with Vrse.works and Samsung to create The Source, a VR film about an Ethiopian girl, Selam, who gets fresh water for the first time with her family from a well that workers have drilled in the desert. Watch the film here.

They debuted the film using Samsung Gear VR Headsets at a fundraising gala in New York. The funds collected that evening far exceeded Charity: Water’s goal, with one donor alone committing over $300,000. This films dramatically demonstrates VR’s move from a novelty item that caused dizziness into a meaningful space that can catalyze social change.

So here’s an idea: let’s start with charitable giving and social causes as use-cases for the promise of VR. As an industry, why not rally around doing good first, marketing second?

That would focus the “awe” for good. And with the power of VR, we will move from awe to action.

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