Virtual reality has been a key marketing tool for Hollywood film and television studios over the past four years at San Diego Comic-Con. This year will see a variety of new VR experiences, ranging from Warner Bros. Suicide Squad to Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple to FX Networks’American Horror Story Fearless VR experience.
FX Networks is once again taking over the Hilton Bayfront Park from Thursday to Sunday to promote Archer, American Horror Story, The Strain, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. The FXhibition will include a 25-foot “infected” Lady Liberty statue from the vampire horror show The Strain. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Paddy’s Pub will offer an escape from the heat providing water on tap for fans to stay cool throughout the day.
After using VR to transport fans into the world of Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain last year, FX is focusing on American Horror Story this time around. The AHS Fearless VR Experience will allow fans of Ryan Murphy’s long-running TV series to become a part of their favorite show and test the boundaries of their own fear. To avoid waiting the long lines that haunted last year’s experience, fans can reserve a spot at AHSReservations.com.
Kenya Hardaway-Green, vice president of integrated promotions at FX Networks, explains the power of virtual reality as a marketing tool in the midst of the largest consumer pop culture gathering in the world in this exclusive interview with [a]listdaily.
What were your goals with this American Horror Story VR Experience?
The premise of the sixth installment of American Horror Story will not be revealed until the premiere on Sept. 14. We were looking to create an immersive experience that would serve as a thrill ride through previous installments of AHS and excite fans with what’s to come. Our goal was to create this experience so it could be enjoyed by die hard fans of AHS, as well as anyone daring enough to give it a try.
What did you learn from last year’s The Strain VR Experience activation that you’re applying to American Horror Story this year?
Our VR experience for The Strain was extremely popular with Comic-Con fans last year. As a result, we had long lines and extended wait times to enter the space. This year we have developed a reservation system that will allow visitors to reserve a space at AHSreservations.com. We want our guests to enjoy their time in our activation, not spend their day in a queue.
How did you work with actors and creatives from American Horror Story on this VR experience?
We took our inspiration from the series and a few terrifying moments AHS fans may recognize. It’s a fun ride.
Creatively, what does VR open up for storytelling?
Virtual reality is a great storytelling tool because it allows us to take an audience and drop them right in the middle of the action. For a fan, there is no better place to be. It also challenges us to tell a more complete story through environments and sound design. The participant has a 360-degree view into the world we create so we can add a richness to the narrative that’s lacking in other presentations.
What’s the gist of the experience and how long is it?
AHS Fearless VR takes fans on a journey through frightful encounters inspired by previous installments of AHS and gives them the chance to face some of their biggest fears. The experience is 4.5 minutes long.
What type of themed set-up do you have for the VR activation given last year’s The Strain VR experience?
All I can tell you is that we call it “The Vault.”
How does VR connect with Comic-Con attendees?
VR experiences at Comic-Con allow us to attract hardcore fans of not only our shows but fans of various entertainment genres and technology as well. There is still a great deal of curiosity surrounding VR and we cater to that interest to tell our stories to a broader audience.
How do you use VR to market to those not in San Diego?
The great thing about producing a VR experience is that the content is portable. Unlike other engagements we have invested in for Comic-Con, this will have a life beyond the event.
As mobile VR devices continue to become more popular, what role does VR play in marketing beyond a big show like Comic-Con?
As VR technology becomes more accessible, the demand for content will grow. Audiences will be more receptive of branded content as it allows them to sample the technology. It is a great opportunity to capture an adventurous audience.
What impact do you see PlayStation VR having on VR for FX shows?
I think I’m going to be creating more VR content!