Why Virtual Reality Could Inspire More Impactful and Emotional Employee Evangelism

Imminent has major brands intrigued

Greenlight VR last week said 71 percent of the 1,300 adults it surveyed felt that virtual reality makes brands seem "forward-thinking and modern." And a wide array of marketers—from Absolut to Google to McDonald's—are already on board with the VR revolution.

How far can VR go in reshaping marketing? More specifically, can brands get their staffers to evangelize for their employers more authentically thanks to VR? It's an interesting question, and Imminent Digital—which specializes in video marketing programs—believes it can take corporate evangelism to a more immersive, impactful level.

New York-based Imminent is currently in talks with Columbia Sportswear, Shock Top and the UN Foundation to test the concept with its newly launched Imminentvr studio. The studio's chief selling point hinges on creating inspiring, episodic content that will make employees unusually proud to push VR videos among their friends and family online, potentially generating a series of powerful organic marketing.

Imminent is also leaning into the idea that VR "takes viewers to places" and sparks the senses. Think branded content that helps viewers better understand Antarctica's melting ice caps or the cruelty of poverty in lesser-developed nations. 

"Virtual reality or even [360-degree] video continue to reimagine dynamic storytelling, and they are the perfect tools with which to immerse employees in their chosen causes," said CJ Follini, CEO of the digital-minded player. "But they go beyond raising hyper-awareness to making a difference in people's lives by building empathy."

Per Follini and his team, brands can introduce volunteer and sponsorship opportunities to employees as a call-to-action following their VR experiences. Incentivizing the employees to share the content would seem to be an option, too. 

In terms of the Imminentvr studio, specifically, Follini said the program revolves around inspiring "large groups to action and hopefully, bring about meaningful change."

Employee evangelism has its advocates, namely IBM, which last summer enlisted 1,000 employees to push branded content via their social channels. 

"It's not a requirement at all, but it's something that, if they do it, they get recognized for it," Amber Armstrong, program director at IBM Marketing Digital, told Adweek at the time.