Matthew Miller
Feb 23, 2015

Samsung takes desert dwellers on a virtual shark dive

AUSTRALIA - Samsung and Leo Burnett placed shoppers into shark-infested waters in a stunt to promote the company's virtual-reality headgear. But why can't the brand let its technology speak for itself?

Client: Samsung Australia

Agency: Leo Burnett Sydney

Market: Australia

Campaign scope: The brand created a popup 'dive shop' in the city of Alice Springs—1,200 km from the nearest ocean. Visitors who for some reason walked into a scuba-diving shop in the middle of a desert got the chance to go on a virtual dive using the brand's Samsung Gear VR device.

The participants saw a 360-degree film by Taylor Steele of Rapid VR, who captured underwater footage of great white sharks near Port Lincoln in South Australia, including a 360-degree shot of the inside of a shark’s mouth (it tried to eat the camera). The company is also taking the film to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne.

Press release quote: Arno Lenior, CMO, Samsung Electronics Australia: "Beyond the technology itself, what really excites us about the Gear VR is that it's enabling completely new kinds of experiences, and putting them directly in the hands of our customers. The potential for this platform is huge—and we wanted to create something that would bring some of that potential to life.”

Campaign Asia Pacific's comments: The virtual demonstration works quite well because the participants' reactions seem genuine—and genuinely impressed. We end up believing the product is at least worth a look, even if we remain cynically unsure whether anyone would walk into that dive shop unprompted.

However, then the brand shoots itself in the foot. Near the end of the video, the "shop owner" haughtily tells one visitor that the smartphone powering the virtual-reality setup is "kind of like yours, but better, because it's a Samsung."

Why, Samsung, why? You just got done showing how cool the technology actually is. You went to presumably great expense to shoot the sharks in their natural environment. You cut the 360-degree film. You set up the fake shop. And you successfully captured the real reactions of people who actually seemed to be wowed by the product. Job well done! Call it a day and celebrate. But no, you have to tack on a heavy-handed boast that punctures the entire real-world feeling that you painstakingly constructed.


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