You know you’ve designed a good virtual reality experience when people emerge with knees trembling and mouths smiling.
At Sundance 2015, we helped Merrell create TrailScape – an immersive journey that transported people to a virtual Merrell basecamp in the mountains, inspiring them to connect with the awe of the outdoors.
Experience Trailscape here.
How do you reach a new demographic in an unexpected way?
Merrell is loved by its core audience, but the trouble is its core audience is old. Merrell needed to reach a younger demographic in an unexpected way.
Merrell has always been a brand that inspires people to get outside and be awed by nature. But short of taking someone on a hike, how do you do that?
To launch Merrell’s latest hiking boot, the Capra, we took over the Sundance Film Festival with Merrell Trailscape, an indoor experience that celebrates the outdoors.
TrailScape was the first commercial in-motion Oculus Rift experience that allowed the user to explore freely while wearing the headset with motion-capture technology.
Introducing Merrell #Trailscape at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival
We converted a 5000-square-foot commercial space where every element was designed to inspire people to get outside with Merrell. The star of Trailscape was the very-first commercial “walkaround” virtual reality experience. Using Oculus Rift, we took people on a beautiful, sometimes terrifying virtual hike through the Dolomites in Italy. 4D elements like a rope bridge, a rumbling floor, a rock wall, and wind made the experience feel even more lifelike.
There were monitors running Dolomites footage, and drink coasters with outdoor trivia. “Ten Best Hikes” books, hiking snacks, and Merrell gear was given away. The bars were wrapped in Merrell’s M-Select waterproof material. And because the Capra hiking boot was inspired by one of nature’s most elite hikers, the mountain goat, we created a stunning POP piece of a goat head made entirely of over 40 pairs of Capra boots.
We partnered with Rolling Stone, creating an interview studio where Peter Travers spoke with filmmakers, celebrities, and festival talent. We hosted a concert in our space featuring the band Local Natives.
We created and shared photo, video, and long-form content of the most memorable moments live during the event, targeting both outdoor enthusiasts and a newer, younger audience.
"One of the Hottest Scenes at Sundance 2015"
The Trailscape space was one of the hottest scenes at the Sundance Film Festival. Nearly 500 people took part in the virtual reality hike over the four days, even though there was over a two-hour wait. Word of mouth was the biggest draw as more and more people experienced Trailscape, its popularity grew as an endless parade of celebrities came and went through the four days.
While our Sundance initiative was only live for a few days, it had a long-standing impact on our clients’ business. In the four-day event, the VR experience was at maximum capacity, with waits of up to two hours. While only 500 users got to experience the event at Sundance, it lived on digitally, and was strategically targeted to priority audiences.
Compared to pre-Sundance activity, social actions on Merrell’s content during Sundance increased by 859%. Due to heavy social activity and PR buzz, conversations surrounding Merrell increased 900% during the event and remained elevated for the month following. This increased activity led to increased shopping, with 4,000 incremental pairs of shoes being purchased on Merrell.com. And during this time frame, users increased their searches on shopping websites such as Zappos and Amazon.
Earned media impressions totaled over 150M and included Fast Company, Creativity Online, Wall Street Journal, PSFK, Adweek, BizBash, Ad Age, Rolling Stone, Yahoo!, Us Weekly, and many more.
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