ABC and sponsor Lexus are hyping the midseason return of Quantico with the network's first virtual reality experience, which takes viewers inside a specially scripted mini-episode of the terrorism drama.
Quantico's writers helped agency Team One create the 3:30 video, watchable by anyone on YouTube 360 and via the Littlestar Cinema VR app for users of Samsung smartphones and Samsung VR gear headsets. The YouTube 360 perspective mimics the head-swivel of better-equipped VR viewers: You navigate the screen with your cursor, or click the arrows to turn the camera angle, as you help two series characters find and capture a bad guy (or rather, an FBI agent playing one).
In the clip, Johanna Braddy and Graham Rogers play FBI trainees Shelby Wyatt and Caleb Haas, who trade the kinds of quips you'd expect from a promo for a broadcast thriller built around young law enforcement recruits in the age of global terror. (The dude agent is irrepressibly horny. The lady agent is horrified she ever dated him.)
You, the newbie, get to wander into a club and look for aforementioned "bad guy." Once Shelby gets him outside, there's another twist.
How does it all end? The good guys win, naturally.
The piece prominently features a Lexus LX 570 SUV. ABC and the automaker also promise two easter eggs with additional content for those dedicated enough to find them. And while ABC bills this as the only VR experience the network has scripted thus far, the gimmick is not Lexus's first foray into VR marketing. Other auto marketers have been playing with ways to use the technology as well.
But it's a nifty enough idea and execution, especially once the scene actually moves inside the bar, where there's more to see. A behind-the-scenes video includes fun technical tidbits about the production—that it had to be done in one take, and that the camera was helmet mounted—once you get past the pap about how great it is to have the viewer "on the scene" with the actors. (Alas, the viewer is still far removed, sitting at home or maybe alone in the office, engaging in a slightly different form of make-believe.)
Beyond the novelty, it's not a bad way to blend the respective interests of both ABC and Lexus. "It's a much deeper level of engagement for a sponsor while still remaining organic and true to the storyline," says Jeffrey Weinstock, vp and creative director for integrated marketing at ABC.
Brian Bolain, corporate marketing communications and product marketing manager at Lexus, adds: "This project allowed us to seamlessly integrate Lexus into Quantico's storyline so fans could explore the new LX virtually while enjoying the show's 360-degree bonus footage."
As for how it compares to other similar tech-driven experimentation, at least as a desktop experience, it falls short of simpler split-or-toggle-screen ideas, like Converse's Valentines ad and Honda's "The Other Side."
Worse, for anyone afraid of heights or public speaking, it's probably not the best use of a Samsung VR headset—even if it is more fun.
Agency: Team One
Executive Creative Director: Alastair Green
Group Creative Director: Jason Stinsmuehlen
Associate Creative Director: Jon King
Creative Technologist: Mike Rozycki
Account Director: Joel Dons
Account Supervisor: Trina Sethi
Associate Media Director: Elaine Evangelista
Media Supervisor: Noopur Chhabra
Public Relations Account Supervisor: Kat Kirsch
Senior Producer: Chad Bauer
Social Media Account Director – Meredith Gruen
Social Media Account Supervisor – Robin Watkins
Media Partner: ABC
VP & Creative Director: Jeffrey Weinstock
Director, Integrated Marketing: Chris Powers
ECD, Entertainment Marketing: Charlie Bowyer
Senior Manager, Integrated Marketing: Meg Smith
Digital Account Executive: Tara Smith
Production Company: Unit 9
Director: Jonathan Pearson
Executive Producer: Luca De Laurentiis
UK Production Manger: Kane Phillips
VR Lead Tech: David Crone
VR Tech Assistant: Chris Belcher
Post Production Supervisor: Zlaten Del Castillo
Production Company: Wee Beastie
Executive Producer: Monica Hinden
Executive Producer: Josh Shurtleff
Line Producer: Monica Monique
Production Manager: Vlad Doclin