Today I traveled away from London to see the Reading football kit unveiled. Which is an alternative way of spending a Saturday. And much more sporty than I am used to.

Gate Reality worked together with Reading F.C. to launch their new kit. After launching their kit in space last year, Reading has built a reputation to showing their kit redesigns in new and idiosyncratic ways. Their next step is, of course, immersive reality through the use of a 360 video.

An alternative way of showing the goods

For background, I am not a massive fan of football. After being a 14-year-old goalkeeper at a school home match, and losing ten nil, I have been politely jettisoned out of the football world. I don’t particularly follow football news either, so I am not 100% sure of Reading’s tournament position, culture, or even the names of any of the players. So I’ve come along from a purely immersive reality perspective for the day.

We came to the Directors Lounge and had a really, really nice view of the stadium, and probably the nicest place to try out VR I have ever been to.

The experience itself was three minutes long, on the Samsung Gear, and gives a little overview of the club and kit, occupying the same seat as where I was in the Director’s Lounge.

One element which really swayed me was that there was a forward position for the video, where all the action was in front of the person. However, in the section where you are placed in a virtual version of the Lounge – exactly where I was sat – the perspective shifted by 45 degrees to the left. This left me very disorientated and should be rectified in the final version of the video, unless fans happen to be sat on a swivel chair.

The way the Reading football kit unveiled itself was really nice as well. In the changing room of the team, the kit was unveiled for the first time to the players there, showing their natural reactions along with the audience. Placing the camera in the middle of the room meant both kits can be shown at the same time and entices the viewer to look around, which was a nice touch. The actual unveiling of the kit was nicely edited and displayed.

Reading football kit unveiled

Blue, white, and orange as Reading football kit unveiled to fans

One element I am nervous about is why they did it with a 360 video in the first place – what is the point of doing it like that? Like a few hundred brands beforehand, using immersive reality as a marketing gimmick is quite popular and cool at the moment, and I’ve always enforced using the technology in an applicable, useful way which serves the key messaging rather than ‘for fun.’

I asked this to Adam Benson, Commercial Director of Reading F.C., and after a short pause he gave his thoughts: “Football produces content all day every day, and at Reading Football Club we are always trying to find new ways to bring fans closer to the game. Fans want to feel closer to the action, and VR can put the fans at the heart of the sport they love. When we unveiled the kits, putting the viewers at the heart of seeing the players see it for the first time is powerful. Being part of the unveiling – that is really interesting”

I’m inclined to agree. We’re already seeing NextVR taking some big steps in sports gameplay in the USA, and we’re starting to see Gate Reality do the same here.

I was then invited to take a look at the kit as it is. I then pretended to understand how the orange colour of the away kit calls back to their ties to Holland, or something like that.

Reading football kit unveiled

Ultimately it was a really nice day out. I confess I came in with a vaguely cynical mindset; launching a football kit in VR provides a recipe for a gimmicky bit of marketing which I would have been happy to critique. Leaving, I’ve found that the way Gate Reality filmed the experience, and the way the Reading football kit unveiled itself, was smart, well-applied and added to the launch itself.

Next is the journey back to London, and hopefully getting some coffee.

Tom Ffiske
@thomasffiske_VR
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