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MINI explores virtual reality in its new marketing campaign

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Posted September 21, 2015

Car advertising has to be creative and innovative these days. We expect so much from cars – they have to be comfortable, safe, easy to drive and live with, environmentally friendly, yet exciting, good looking and passionate. All the requirements and major automotive corporations make cars somehow similar to one another, so companies have to come up with innovative ways to highlight these small differences that are left. And British car manufacturer MINI came up with something really interesting.

MINI created two short movies that allow viewers to roam freely in virtual space. They can be viewed with usual devices, such as computers and smartphones, but the best experience can be achieved by using MINI Virtual Reality Cardboard Viewer. Image credit: press.bmwgroup.com

MINI created two short movies that allow viewers to roam freely in virtual space. They can be viewed with usual devices, such as computers and smartphones, but the best experience can be achieved by using MINI Virtual Reality Cardboard Viewer. Image credit: press.bmwgroup.com

As its new marketing campaign MINI is trying to explore possibilities of 360 degrees videos and virtual reality. Videos with 360 degrees option have been used many times before, but company is saying that MINI will become the first automotive brand ever to harness the huge potential of virtual-reality technology for top-quality storytelling. Furthermore, company’s plan is very ambitious – MINI is going to use individual virtual-reality technology, based on the new version of Google Cardboard.

The core of the campaign is two shorts films that allow viewers to roam freely in virtual space. “Real Memories” and “Backwater” are currently available in 20 countries via YouTube and the campaign website www.mini.com/360. Technology behind movies is pretty interesting. They were shot in Barcelona, Spain, using the very best camera rigs to create the virtual reality effect.

They were using a custom stereo rig with nine RED Dragon cameras offering an incredible combined resolution of 14k. Since movies also feature scenes inside of cars, they created smaller custom rigs for that too, using 7 GoPro cameras. Company says that these short films can be viewed directly online in a browser or on any smartphone with an installed YouTube app. However, very soon they will be available for Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift virtual-reality viewers, which is probably the most technologically interesting part of this story.

Creating 360 degree films required special equipment – a custom stereo rig with nine RED Dragon cameras with combined resolution of 14k. Image credit: press.bmwgroup.com

Creating 360 degree films required special equipment – a custom stereo rig with nine RED Dragon cameras with combined resolution of 14k. Image credit: press.bmwgroup.com

Since these virtual reality devices are very expensive and, therefore, rare, MINI is planning to use a more widely available technology. In fact, company is going to distribute a total of 140,000 MINI Virtual Reality Cardboard Viewers worldwide. And they are going to do so completely free of charge. It is based on the latest version of Google Cardboard presented this summer. In short, it is a very simple virtual reality device. In fact, it is just a cardboard box with your smartphone, described as the most simple and affordable way to experience virtual reality.

MINI is still considered a British automotive brand, although now it is owned by BMW. Back in its prime it used to be recognized as a small, yet innovative and sporty car, which was very popular and affordable. However, now new models are more of a fashion and style statement, although still preserving sporting roots.

Now there are many other cars that are similar in image with MINI, which means that company has to try and find its unique face. And this new marketing campaign is all about that. It is a new attempt at positioning MINI an innovative company that explores new directions in communications. Now we have to wait and see how this campaign will be received by the public and whether or not 360 degree videos and virtual reality will soon become a common part of marketing campaigns in the automotive industry.

Source: BMW

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