Digital Billboards Simulate Real World Tornado Disaster

Since Pepsi MAX released their virtual reality bus stop stunt, we’ve been looking forward to seeing another company take the concept up and show us what they’ve got. So, obviously, we were impressed with this recent campaign that ran in Sydney for the film Into The Storm, which used the same virtual reality to trick people into thinking a tornado was heading their way.

The Campaign

This campaign, run by augmented reality shop Grand Visual, was constructed to promote tornado-themed disaster film Into The Storm. Framed similarly to a traditional movie poster street display, the box was actually a high-definition video screen. What started as the ‘poster’ getting blown away by rising gusts, then exhibited a clear view of the street behind it getting torn apart by the storm, to the shock (or delight) of the on-street audience.

Using Technology To Advertising’s Advantage

There aren’t too many cases where an advertiser can guarantee that they have the undivided attention of their audience for one brief but memorable second, but we think this is probably one of them. Thanks to the incredible graphics and real-time adaptation of the view on screen, the audience’s interest and imagination are captured, allowing the advertiser to deliver the message.

The Power of Viewer Emotions

One interesting thing to note is that the campaign really works on two particular human emotions for maximum memorability and effect. One of these is fear. We learn very quickly from fear responses, so when the virtual reality setting scares the viewers, they’re more receptive to the message that comes after advertising the movie. This could be a slightly cruel method of advertising, but it’s all in good fun which happens to make it very effective.

Another emotion that the campaign builds on is wonder. When it comes to innovative campaigns and ideas, wonder (and the feeling of magic) is something that many agencies try to work in. The reason for this is that when we’re presented with something new, we want to understand it, making us open for the advertising messages that follow. When a campaign like this one combines the fear with the wonder you can end up with a pretty big impression that is guaranteed to excite viewers both on the ground, and later on social media.

Is The World One Big Ad?

Although we appreciate the novelty and the smart use of technology that this campaign has illustrated, it has got us thinking about something a little more interesting. In the modern age of social living, will advertising (even the guerrilla marketing variety) reach a point of saturation where the whole world appears as one big advertisement? It’s interesting to see ads bringing the changing face of the real world into their campaign, but we’re wondering at what point the companies, or the people, might stand up and say that it’s too far.

For now at least we feel pretty confident in the knowledge that our technology has not yet reached the point where advertisement and reality overlap any more than this campaign. But we can’t assume that time isn’t coming, and we’re interested to see what comes next.