When most people think of Texas A&M University, they think (if anything at all) about farmers, tractors, and football. In reality, Texas A&M has an incredible real world impact on billions of people through faculty research, student work, and an expansive alumni network.
By using the emerging field of 360 video as an immersive brand experience at SXSW 2017, we wanted to tell compelling stories of what Aggies are doing around the world and expand the viewer's concept of what Texas A&M is.
For those who had never heard of Texas A&M University, we wanted participants to leave knowing that Texas A&M is a university that gets its hands dirty solving world problems.
From Aggies engineering the expansion of the Panama Canal to saving the world's oceans in Palau, there is no better way to tell these stories than to transport the viewer directly to those places and allow them to see the work we are doing first hand (or the closest thing to actually being there). With the ability to virtually transport the viewer and keep their full attention, 360 video was a perfect medium for this ambitious project.
With a Nikon 360 camera, our iPhones, and passports, we went on a two week trip around the globe to film extraordinary stories of Texas A&M faculty, students, and alumni. To capture the viewers attention immediately, we wanted to film in exotic locations that only Aggies could get you access to. Each video opened on an interesting location so that the viewer would either be interested in looking around, interested in the topic being discussed, or both.
At SXSW, we had both the Texas A&M House at Hotel Van Zandt and our trade show exhibit booth to show off the 360 video experience. At both locations, we had maroon Google Daydream goggles for the public to use to view the videos. A custom web app was built where viewers could switch between videos by a "stare to select" custom coded tile menu. That means that without taking the goggles off or using a hand remote, viewers could select videos and transport themselves wherever they wished.
After viewing the videos, we gave all patrons custom branded Google Cardboard goggles which allowed them to do the whole experience at home, as well as do a 360 campus tour of our university campus.
We had thousands of quality brand interactions at the Texas A&M House and our exhibit booth at SXSW 2017. Visitors were excited to try out VR goggles (the first time for most), and in turn were given an immersive brand experience.
The custom branded Google cardboard goggles were a very highly demanded takeaway item; multiple people asked if they could purchase them before being told they were free to take. Not only did people come to the exhibit floor specifically to view our content after hearing about it, other exhibitors ran over during their breaks after hearing about our booth.
Beyond the obvious brand awareness and perception gains we saw, we had visitors wanting to contact the researchers they learned about, had student volunteers get job offers, and companies wanting to do future partnerships with Texas A&M.