Disney is putting a virtual reality twist on their advertising.
To promote its Broadway production of Aladdin, Disney’s theatrical productions arm has partnered with OmniVirt, a virtual reality advertising platform, as well as creative agency Serino Coyne and virtual reality agency Koncept VR to take consumers to the edge of the show’s stage with a new 360 video, which is set to run in click-to-expand display banner ads and pre-roll video ads online.
In the video, actor Major Attaway, who plays the Genie, belts out “Never Had a Friend Like Me,” to Aladdin (played by Telly Leung). The viewer watches the video seemingly positioned at the end of the stage, making for an even better view than you’d get in the front row. Special effects, “a new layer to the experience,” according to a release from Disney Theatrical Productions, also enhance the campaign. These include a very Disney-esque golden, fairy dust-like shimmer, as well as captions sharing secrets and background information about the production that appear on the screen. As viewers watch, they’ll learn that the actor who originated the role of the genie on Broadway, James Monroe Iglehart, won a Tony for his performance, or how many crystals appear on the dancers’ gold pants (over 1000).
“There’s nothing like being front and center on Broadway,” said Michael Rucker, OmniVirt’s Chief Operating Officer. “Feeling like you’re there, being able to navigate as the actors would around you, just creates a much more immersive experience.”
This video is the second of its kind that Disney has made in partnership with OmniVirt. The first was for their long-running production of The Lion King, and was released in the fall of 2015. That video wasn’t used as an ad campaign. Instead, it was displayed on Disney’s website. The goal with the Aladdin campaign is to further grow the number of people who see the video. Using it in an ad campaign means that more people than just visitors to Disney’s website will be able to engage with it, said Rucker.
“Rather than having this content just exist on a place where people can choose to go and seek it out, now we’re pushing it out to where the prospective customer is,” he said. “You’re reading an article on the New York Times, or on Playbill.com. And when they’re scrolling through, there’s an ad there front and center, that was the goal.”
The optimal viewing for the campaign would be on a virtual reality headset, said Rucker. But since that equipment isn’t quite ubiquitous yet, it’s also easily viewed on mobile or desktop, and still provides that same mesmerizing quality.
“That’s why you want to go to Broadway, to be immersed in an amazing show,” he said. “The format lends itself towards what the show is trying to promote to its audience. And the fact that the user can interact and choose their experience is resulting in a dramatic uplift in all the metrics that marketers are looking for.”