Diageo Gets Shockingly Real with VR

Virtual reality (VR) has been all the rage this year – especially when it comes to making causes real for consumers – and many organizations, like TOMS, Charity:Water and the National Autism Society are jumping on the bandwagon. The latest example highlights just how real VR can get – putting consumers in the passenger's seat of an alcohol-related crash, creating a 360° experience of how an individual's decisions can impact so many others.

Humans make more than 30,000 decisions every single day but can brands influence individuals to make the right ones? Now, beer, wine and spirits company, Diageo, is attempting to do just that through a new VR experience called, "Decisions." The VR video takes consumers along the paths of three separate stories that converge in one heart-stopping tragedy – highlighting how one decision can result in a fatal drunk driving crash. The technology puts consumers in the passenger's seat of the car, "reinforcing a bystander's power in preventing tragedy." The goal of "Decisions" is to create a jarring experience that will "help inform responsible decision-making" and "enlist advocacy." The video, meant for individuals ages 21 and up, may come off as alarming or even disturbing, but Diageo intentionally developed the VR program to have this effect. "These days, it's easy for us to be desensitized to certain issues unless we live them out firsthand," said James Thompson, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at Diageo North America.

For years, brands have harnessed the power of video to help consumers feel a deeper connection to an issue – and with great success – campaigns like AT&T's "It Can Wait" have sent powerful messages to consumers. Yet, VR takes that experience just one step further, creating a surround-sound, immersive journey that leaves a lasting impression on consumers. As brands seek to not only inform, but change consumers' behaviors, VR will become an even more powerful tool for CSR and marketing communications.