So I received a story about a VR experience about Gillette. It was inspiring – but not in the way you expect. It’s a really nice example of somewhat inadequate VR marketing, so I wanted to break it down and analyse how it could have been improved, at least with the initial pitch.

For background, it is called the Gillette ProShield VR Experience, and it aims to give Australian men an immersive insight into the new razor. According to the press release, “participants in the VR experience find themselves on a virtual roller-coaster ride along a yellow lubrication strip, flying around a man shaving in his bathroom, before diving into his bristles in the path of a smooth close-up shave.”

So why did I say “according to the press release”? Because it did not include a link to a video of the experience. Yup.

It is very difficult to illustrate an experience without having the tools necessary to see what it would have been like. It’s hard to think that you would send a marketing campaign without a YouTube video – in the same way, why wasn’t the experience included for me to see?

I understand its being toured around stores in Australia. I understand it would be impossible for me to have the full experience. But a small clip would have done wonders to help someone who wasn’t sure what the story was about.

Then there are the images included. You can find all five that have been supplied below:

The images vaguely show the person on a “roller-coaster ride along a strip,” flying around a man’s head, then diving into the bristles again. I am sure it would be the most exhilarating thing since watching the finale of Whiplash, but again, I had no video to show me the actual experience.

What is more interesting is that I am not sure the experience… adds anything. So you whizz around a man shaving his beard, much like a flying roller coaster. I am sure it is good and all, but how exactly does it show that Gillette’s shaving is good? Perhaps when it zooms in close to the face so I may see the hairs being cut – that would be cool. But when zoomed out and observing a man shaving? It’s hardly a good application of immersive tech if its being used to watch a man shave, even if its from the perspective of a small fly.

In other words, more up-close shaving, less watching a man shave. Think what is impossible without VR, and apply it to suit your key messages.

Then there was the official press comments, which are intriguing. And a tad too corporate, for my tastes:

You can find them below, but to summarise:

  1. VR is cool right now
  2. So we wanted to capitalise on it

Ryan Edwards, Assistant Brand Manager for Gillette at P&G, comments: “A lot of Australian men still don’t give much thought to their choice of razor or quality of shave, often just opting for lower priced disposable razors. We wanted to find an original way to really stand out and disrupt their shopping auto-pilot. Virtual reality delivers that in abundance. It’s a brilliant way to entertain and educate our target audience with something totally different in the market.”

Meredith Cranmer, Founder and Managing Director of BEcause Brand Experience, comments: Research shows 55% of men and 40% of women express a strong interest in experiencing VR. People are always curious about what they’re going to discover, and intensely focused on the brand experience whilst taking part. It’s a fun, unexpected and contemporary way of engaging consumers – and ideal for the kind of modern cutting edge male audience Gillette is trying to reach with this campaign.”

That’s not good enough. You are effectively saying “oh well lots of people are interested in VR at the moment, so we really wanted to hop on the trend and make something different.” At best, they say that it is a “fun, unexpected and contemporary way of engaging consumers” – which is true, but that can be interpreted as a “gimmick” at worst.

Comments should give a deeper insight rather than something so vague – perhaps something along the lines of “the technology enables us to show how close the shave is – something which cannot be shown with other types of technology.” Otherwise, it sounds off and dishonest.

Because that’s what the campaign feels like. It feels like Gillette using a gimmick, and it doesn’t quite explain how the technology adds to the experience. It was close – so close – when talking about seeing the close shave. But it didn’t quite reach the target. It feels hollow.

Props to Gillette for making an experience which intrigues me and I want to try out. I just wish it was communicated better from the outset.

Tom Ffiske