Car manufacturers create experiential apps

It’s a beautiful time of day to test drive a Porsche. The sun illuminates the light beige leather, there’s a breeze gracing the summer air. I’m in the passenger seat; a man with great convertible hair in his early thirties drives. He’s an exemplar driver, smoothly turning around the test track. He also seems nice — every thirty seconds or so he smiles my way, as if to check that I’m having a good experience. Luxury customer service at its finest.

I would tell him I’d definitely consider this ride if my budget was a little different, but I’m not sure he would respond. Not because I read him as the distant type — but because I’m in my kitchen, in my post-yoga publicly unacceptable state, using Porsche’s VR App with my google cardboard headset.

Created by Reel FX, the Porsche VR app brings users to a virtual dealership in Atlanta where they can immerse themselves in the luxury and sounds of sports cars such as the Targa 911. Users can also explore the lobby, gym and restaurant of the dealership (features I don’t fully understand but speculate car enthusiasts might enjoy). As reported by the Shorty Awards, in the app’s first month alone, there were 2.2 times more virtual test drives facilitated than actual test drives from the 188 dealerships in the United States combined.

The nice test driver inside the Porsche Targa 911  (image from Reel FX)

Porsche is not the only automobile manufacturer generating exciting content on an app exclusively devoted to VR. BMW and Ford, as of this week, are also leveraging the experiential platform of VR with apps of their own.

Launched in April, the BMW M2 VR app features a short game starring Gigi Hadid and five blue BMWs in the middle of an open desert. Users see how smoothly this type of BMW drives as they try to keep track of which car Hadid is in. I tried this app as well. I might have failed to keep track of which car Gigi was in, but I did admire the game’s surreal landscape.

The newly debuted “FordVR” app also takes users somewhere exciting: the town of Le Mans, France for the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing. In an eight-minute narrated clip from inside the GT itself, users are able to experience what a driver sees during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As reported in Sports Illustrated, creating this content was the way Ford elected to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GT40’s 1-2-3 victory back in 1966.

Gigi Hadid for BMW (image from Ad Week)

FordVR was created in collaboration with agency Tool of North America. The app marks another triumph for the storytelling specialist agency that has been honored at the Emmys, Webbys, Oscars, SXSW, AICP, One Show, D&AD and with Cannes Lions.

Trying the FordVR app has made me view racing in a completely new light, partially because I now feel like I actually experienced the intensity of a race and partially because of how Ford brilliantly excelled at storytelling.

To me, all three of these apps vibrantly highlight the connection a brand can forge with a consumers when utilizing VR to bring them an exciting experience.


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