Innovation in Immersion

Does the format in which we view content change the way we react to it? Sovanna Mam’s experience in Virtual Reality with some unlikely partners has proven just that. As the founder and executive producer of Greenfish Labs, he helps organizations create innovative and impactful messages through VR and 360 storytelling, an engaging platform that reaches the audience in a much more intimate way.

Of course, he expected the Google’s and YouTube’s of the world to immediately flock to this new form of storytelling. However, what he didn’t see coming was the enthusiasm from non-profits and religious organizations to implement VR into their campaigns.

After taking an unlikely partnership with Tree for Hope, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for school girls in Guatemala, Sovanna learned the true impact that VR can have on human engagement and empathy. They were looking for a way to truly immerse potential donors into the reality of young Guatemalan girls living in poverty. To do so, Greenfish created a 3-minute video following five girls and produced it in two formats; flat and 360 VR. To measure the effect that VR can have, both videos were used, but at separate fundraising events. The results exceeded expectations. The events that presented the 360 VR video raised three times more donations than the events that displayed the flat video.

How did this little VR headset produce such a powerful result? Donors said that the VR experience made them feel like they were actually there in Guatemala with these girls facing their everyday difficulties – stirring up much more empathy and a desire to help. Sovanna pointed out how trained we are at watching flat videos and how easy it is to zone out. Whereas with VR, you’re actively engaged, giving it exponential power over mindlessly watching another YouTube video.

What can we learn from Sovanna’s experience? It’s important to think outside of the box. Even the most unlikely partnerships can produce incredible results with the right execution of your brand’s message. More importantly, you can never discount the power of emotion to drive human behavior.

Many clients may think that this new format of storytelling is risky given the barriers of accessibility, but it may be time for us to start making a case to experiment in this realm to deliver more immersive, impactful messaging. As Sovanna said: “If you tell a person your story, they may remember it for a few days. But if you let them experience your story, they’ll remember you for a lifetime.”