Through VR, Häagen-Dazs Will Let You Fly (and Sympathize) With Imperiled Honey Bees

Sneak peek unveiled at Brand Storytelling

Through a blend of entertainment, education and immersive technology, Häagen-Dazs is hoping to teach new audiences about the plight of the honey bee.

The brand, which has used its marketing to champion the beleaguered bees since 2008, debuted a trailer for its new virtual reality experience during the second day of the Brand Storytelling conference in snowy Park City, Utah.

As part of the "Exploring Storytelling in VR and Immersive Advertising" panel hosted by Adweek Editorial Director Jim Cooper, the Nestlé brand gave marketers a taste of what its first virtual reality project will look like. 

"We're here at the Sundance Film Festival really learning to tell stories even better," said Alex Placzek, director of marketing for Häagen-Dazs in the U.S. "At the core brands are basically a story so if you don't tell a compelling and engaging story you're basically a commodity. What we're excited about is learning how to tell stories in a much more impactful way." 

He added: "This project, Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees, is something we've been working on for the last eight years. … The capacity to use virtual reality to shrink the viewer down to the size of the honey bee so they can fly around and see what's actually going on for bees and ultimately learn what they can do to make a difference in the plight of the honey bee is really exciting to us." 

To create the VR experience, which will ultimately be between three and five minutes, Häagen-Dazs tapped digital content strategy shop Reach Agency. Rollout plans for the effort are still in the works, but it will be released some time in the summer. Häagen-Dazs may look for media partners to help launch it. 

"With Brand Storytelling here we thought this was a great platform to showcase the innovation that Nestlé is doing around this," said Gabe Gordon, managing partner of Reach Agency. "And it fit in with the whole film thematic of being at the Sundance Film Festival." 

Orchid Bertelsen, a digital marketing strategist at Nestlé USA, explained: "For us, Nestlé is exploring new technologies, and I think Häagen-Dazs was absolutely the brand we wanted to test this out with just because we had a compelling story to tell. With VR, we weren't going to pursue it for tech's sake; it was really about what the technology was able to enable from a storytelling perspective." 

Brand Storytelling will conclude today with Adweek's inaugural Arc Award ceremony at the Silver Lake Lodge in Park City.