Virtual Reality is THE Dumbest Thing in Marketing Since…

Luke Miller, Founder – Shop Marketing & Creative Group

It’s the Minidisc (3DTV, Google Glass, Betamax, etc.) all over again: a technology being shoved down your throat that isn’t ready for prime time and, more importantly, may never be. Virtual reality, or VR, is everywhere right now. An obnoxious face apparatus with cords, widgets, doo-dads, and thingamajigs that virtually make you look like you’ve lost touch with reality.

VR is ubiquitous within marketing right now, as brands, and agencies alike, try to work it into their creative processes, if for all the wrong reasons. No one wants to be last on board, no one wants to miss the boat, no one wants to watch the train pull out of the station. The thing is, we all need to know which train we’re catching before we can miss it.

Everyone is trying to be first in line to this VR trend, but VR is just a glorified fidget spinner right now. It’s buzzworthy because people (re: VR and tech companies) are lobbying for it. It’s the first time that VR actually looks good enough to use. It’s the first-time computers are powerful enough to deal with the HD output. It’s the first-time the internet has been zippy enough to keep up. Remember the Nintendo Virtual Boy? Yeah…

We’ve done this before, as marketers. We’ve rushed to use a “technology” that everyone was using, because, well, everyone was using it. We called them QR codes and they were one of the worst things to ever impose their will on marketing. Marketers weren’t using QR codes because they solved any problems; downloading an app that could take a picture of a barcode that could take you to a website didn’t speed anything up. QR codes were just there and no one really knew why.

So too is VR, just there. VR, in its current state, is clunky, quirky, inefficient, and gimmicky. Now before you get all “VR IS A GAME CHANGER” on me, hear me out.

  • VR is clunky because even the best units still require cords and sensors, not to mention a ton of space.
  • VR is quirky because it doesn’t actually do anything you can’t already do, if anything, it limits our sensory experience.
  • VR is inefficient, because it requires extensive down time between participants and without a ton of gear can’t activate multiple consumers at once.
  • VR is gimmicky, because it is yet another distraction from the amazing reality we all live in.

So put down that stupid headset before we all get pulled down the wrong rabbit hole. People want REAL. People want physical. People want tangible, tactile experiences. We are constantly brainstorming ways to get our clients’ consumers from the digital space to an analog space. IRL experience is critical, something VR just doesn’t do. The future is physical. The future evokes all human senses in real experience. This doesn’t mean VR can’t be a small part of a greater whole. Even as VR improves, it can, and should, never be the whole. If anything, augmented reality (AR) is where we should focus, but for now, let’s embrace the moment. Let’s embrace actual reality.