Latest Gear VR Ad Contrasts How Dumb You Look in VR with How Cool It Is Inside… And We’re Not Sure Why


It’s an argument I’ve heard time and time again from people who have never used VR. “You look so dumb with a headset on. No one wants to wear something on their head.” Then you give them a headset and they become an instant convert.

Unfortunately, Samsung’s latest Gear VR commercial doesn’t exactly do anything to combat this fallacy—my response to which is always: the better an experience is, the dumber people will be willing to look to have it. In fact, rather than combat it, the commercial practically points it out (notice the people staring in bewilderment in the background at 1:02 and giggling at 1:20).

The key problem with the commercial is that the people it should be targeting are those onlookers in the background who have never tried virtual reality.

Imagine you have two people on the couch watching this commercial. One has tried VR and the other has not. The one that has tried VR knows exactly what the guy in the commercial wearing the headset is experiencing and will relate to him. The other person on the couch who has never tried VR is more likely to relate to the onlookers in the background who think that the man in the foreground looks like a goof as he leaves mouth agape at scenes unseen by the outsiders.

A truly effective ad would help convey the worth of donning the headset to those that have never tried it. How much more successful would it have been to have the ad’s protagonist beckon one of the onlookers to the chair, only to see them have the same jaw-dropped reaction?

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Personally I think Samsung’s previous attempts at Gear VR commercials were more effective.

What the commercial does do well is subtly emphasize that the experience is all powered by the Galaxy S6 Edge. True, we see the protagonist put the phone into the headset at the beginning, but between then and the end we see a lot of attention-grabbing things (including a bear drink beer). The phone call at the end reminds both our protagonist that he’s left his device, and the viewer that said device is actually a smartphone, effectively sandwiching the rest of the ad’s content between that point.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • brandon9271

    By this time next year it won’t even matter about advertising. After the release of the Vive and Rift, most people in the gaming demographic will know just how cool VR is from all the tons of reviews, vlogs and from store display. We’re on the verge of a VR explosion that will change gaming like the release of the NES did in the 80s. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer

  • nsignific

    While I’m not as optimistic about VR’s success as brandon9271, I do believe that “how you look” will play no part in it. That always stuck me as a weak argument against VR, and I usually just feel pity for whoever uses it. Are you that self-conscious that you care how you LOOK in your own home? When nobody but maybe a member of your family is watching? Why is that an issue?

    • brandon9271

      If you go back and look at the old ads for Atari, Commodore, NES or any other wildly popular video game system in history they all tended to depict people looking like complete dorks. However, they were having fun and nobody cared. Why then are some of us worried that this will somehow doom VR? Gaming is a dorky hobby but i love it. I don’t think gamers care if they look like dorks and i believe VR is going to be insanely popular. I can’t remember any other video game technology growing this fast or receiving this much hype. If i could i would by stock in key VR companies. That’s how sure i am that VR is going to be big.

  • A REAL American Trump Voter✓

    You are so far off…. it’s ridiculous…. in your judgement of the commercial being detrimental. You seem to think people on the out side looking in with somehow miss the fact that’s where they and that’s not going get them at least interested in trying it out!

    Nonsense!!!! …….that’s what people and Apple’s lame naysayers were saying about Galaxy Note smartphones when they came out in 2011. They were making fun of people using such a big phone for calling and Steve Jobs was cutting Samsung for using a Stylus! ……they laughingly called them Phablets!!!! ahaha… look at them now with their iPhone 6Plus and 6sPlus. Not to forget they also copied Stylus calling a Pencil…. and what a lame name that is!!! xD

    So how are Gear VR Sales doing now???? Sold out of stock with a 4 to 5 week wait….. that’s how well they are selling and no other 3D VR HMD is selling better!!!! :D

    btw…. all you need to do is check out the fact that on ebay….. new Gear VR has been selling for over twice it’s $99 price. Some going for over $300!!! haha…. Some selling for even more than Oculus new HMD!!!

  • ribbitz

    I liked it. Nerd power!! It’s always when the muggles get interested that a tech thing turns into a pile of crap. Internet, before it became user-friendly – inviting the unwashed masses, which in turn brought commercialization and its marketing, advertising, and spam – and giving voice to those who can barely be bothered to learn to switch on a computer. Online gaming, before Everquest brought in the bibliophobes and their subtelligent mouth-breathing “companionship.” Let nerds have a community of their own again!