Last week the New Zealand All Blacks made history by becoming the first-ever repeat winners of the Rugby World Cup. However during the tournament, with help from sponsor AIG, the All Blacks set a little virtual history of their own, becoming arguably the first global sports brand to embrace a Virtual Reality experience for their fans as the tournament unfolded.
American International Group (AIG), created a virtual reality (VR) Haka 360º Experience that was perhaps the biggest hot off the pitch for any part of World Cup. Designed for smartphones, the Haka 360˚ Experience was available to download via the App Store or Google and consumers viewed the video on their handset or immerse themselves in the VR experience with a custom made Haka 360˚ headset that they could create on their own.
“We wanted to bring fans closer to the All Blacks and what better way to do that than to harness the power of 360 degree video technology to bring them face to face with the legendary haka,“ said Daniel Glantz, Global Head of Sponsorship for AIG at the launch of the project in September. “The video enables users to look anywhere and control their own experience; allowing them to truly feel like they have taken their place on the field with the All Blacks.”
By all accounts the experience was a hit not just for its innovation but for its global reach. The app was downloaded and used globally by fans, and thousands more queued up in and around the UK to try the experience firsthand. While the simple cardboard VR experiences are growing, the New York Times, just launched their own, few have tried the platform with a global brand (AIG) and a global sporting event (World Cup), making the HAKA 360 a first of its kind, and one which will no doubt be copied going forward.
While still not a perfect experience, the fact that AIG and other companies are working with companies like Google and Samsung to create affordable and portable VR experiences show how far the technology has come, and how another aspect of immersion for fans is now closer than ever before.
Great win for All Blacks on the pitch, and for their lead sponsor off it.
See the video here: