Oculus Rift and Behavioural Change Marketing with Road Respect

Added: 2nd November 2015

Road safety is not the most thrilling subject matter or one that instantly springs to mind when you think of experiential marketing, but we view it differently here at IE, we see it as the perfect challenge for the experiential marketing to crack and an essential tool in behavioural change marketing.

So when our client, the highly regarded North East based Road Respect, wanted to update how they get the message across, we saw an opportunity to change how road safety is marketed to their key demographic of 17- 24 year olds and developed the first Oculus Rift safe driving experience.

What we wanted to do was create an immersive driving experience that would truly engage and educate, an experience that people would go away, talk about and share with their friends.  We believe in a 360° approach working in a way whereby each element feeds and helps the other grow to create maximum amplification and reach.  For this we had a three-strand attack on behaviour change.


Firstly we developed a totally immersive experience in which the user is consumed within the experience and is able to get a real sense of the experiential world we’ve created.  In addition to this we set in 6 iconic regional locations where people can pass, including the Angel of the North, Newcastle Quayside and the Stadium of Light.

This adds personal relevance and interest as each participant is in their own area, negotiating various distractions, weather conditions and the statutory speed limit.  The experience is then repeated under the simulated influence of alcohol which gives participants both a test of their driving skills and a test on how to behave on the roads.  As well as the scary consequences of drunk driving I can say from a personal point of view that spinning out of control at 80mph on the motorway in the rain is an experience I don’t want to repeat either in immersive life or real life!  Due to the nature of the virtual reality experience it resonates with the user after the initial interaction, it’s almost always their first exposure to this type of technology so that in itself creates a memory and a talking point within their peer groups.

Secondly, we created a scoring system within the experience to add that gaming element.  Once the user has ended their session, a score and notes on their driving appears so that they get an understanding of how their behaviour has effected their driving, which helps to inform and educate.  This goes onto a leader board to create a competitive edge to the activation, building an environment of striving to be a better driver, flipping on its head the grand theft auto mind set of wanting to break the rules. This underpins the messaging in the first attack.

Thirdly we connected the experience to the campaigns highly active social media output.  Road Respect has a strong social presence and over 3000 Facebook fans so after the users Oculus Rift experience ends, an image of them at the moment of crash is shared on the Facebook page and to their email address with a link to share on their own profiles and one to view the leader board.  This links the face-to-face experience to the digital world this demographic exists in, with the gaming element encouraging the user to join the wider conversation online, creating a direct call to action encouraging users to return to see how they compare within their peer groups.

This three-pronged attack amplifies the campaign, extends its reach and creates direct deeper engagement with each level creating a memorable brand experience and embedding behavioural change.  Just as smoking was once seen as cool, so is reckless driving to those newly on the road.  By changing the focus and aligning recklessness on the roads directly to technology which is deemed cool, it starts to change the mind-set and impact future behaviour.  That’s why we feel road safety can be thrilling, sexy and cool, and with 1700 deaths on the UK roads each year this is still an area of behavioural and a mind-set which should be challenged.

If you would like to find out how to amplify your brands message or effect behavioural change then get in touch we are always happy to discuss any brand challenges you may face.


To have a chat about how we can bring new technologies in to your marketing get in touch with us at 0191 275 5050 ext 171, or drop us an email.


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