Warner Bros. Takes Comic-Con Fans ‘Into the Storm’
The Warner Bros. film “Into the Storm” faced a veritable tornado of challenges, including a challenging subject matter and lack of built-in fan base. To raise awareness for the movie and get people excited for a movie about destructive weather, the studio set out to deliver an emotional experience that would result in social sharing to drive ticket sales. In search of that emotional bond, the brand brought consumers and potential viewers quite literally into the storm thanks to an Oculus Rift experience that defined immersive. The campaign kicked off in July at San Diego Comic-Con, where the brand deployed eight Oculus Rift DK2 development kits.
Leveraging the more than 130,000 visitors over the five days of the event and the social sharing built directly into the experience, Warner Bros. simultaneously launched the hashtag #IntoTheStorm for users and passersby to share with their friends. After the Comic-Con launch, the studio sent three booths around the world for several weeks to activate at pre-screenings, morning news shows, pop culture events and high traffic locations to fuel mass media and word of mouth conversation around the film.
For those of you who are still wondering why we’re all excited about some dude’s ocular fissure (Oculus Rift, get it?), here’s what we’re talking about. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that lets players step inside their games and virtual worlds. It uses custom motion tracking technology to allow users to look around the virtual world just as they would in real life. It provides about 100 degrees of view, so the virtual world stretches beyond peripheral vision, to create an immersive virtual reality experience.
Here’s how it looked—and felt: Programmers created a three-dimensional world using game engines and filmed content. Users placed a headset over their eyes, headphones over their ears, and peered into the world of the Storm. For this activation, the brand reconstructed a scene from the movie where the protagonists hid in a storm drain while a massive tornado passed over, tearing everything in its path to shreds. The fans sat in for the hero while objects flew by, vehicles crashed into the storm drain gate, and other virtual victims screamed, ran, panicked and held on for dear life. High-powered fans and vibrating seats made the experience feel real to the senses. As the tornado in the simulation drew closer, the vibrations and wind increased until the attendee’s hair was whipping around. At the very end of the 90-second experience, the gate broke and the users were sucked out of the drain and into the tornado and the scene faded to black.
Afterward there was a photo activation to give the participants a chance to share the experience, which they did to the tune of seven million impressions reaching more than five million followers on social media during the campaign. In the end, the tour visited six countries and over a dozen cities, reaching thousands in person and millions online and to date, the film has grossed more than $133.5 million in global ticket sales. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.