Jaguar says VR is helping it sell an ‘incredible amount of cars’ as it launches Andy Murray experience

Having signed up Andy Murray for a new virtual reality experience, Jaguar has insisted the technology isn’t a gimmick and is resulting in improved car sales.

The #FeelWimbledon VR campaign is part of Jaguar’s sponsorship of the iconic tennis tournament and places users onto Centre Court to experience the atmosphere while hitting the winning shot as Andy Murray.

The virtual reality experience (pictured above) will debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed before being placed at London Waterloo station for the duration of the tournament. It will also be distributed throughout Jarguar’s car dealerships via 20,000 Google Cardboards.

With virtual reality (VR) set to become a $1bn (£710m) industry by the end of 2016, marketers are seeking to tap into the platform’s storytelling power to set the agenda for VR excellence.

Jaguar Land Rover, in particular, first launched a VR experience (in partnership with IBM) back in September 2014. The VR experience allows an in-store consumer who is wearing a headset to choose the model, make, colour and features of a car. The experience also allows consumers to get into the car to check out interior features with a 360-degree view, and to make real-time changes.

Read more: Are car marketers using augmented reality and VR to replace the showroom?

How Andy Murray appears within the new Jaguar VR campaign, which was created by Mindshare

And Robert Herd, head of communications at Jaguar Land Rover UK, said VR is having a major impact on the brand.

“We felt there was a perfect opportunity to build something cutting edge for Wimbledon and we want the public to experience hitting the winning smash and how that feeling of joy has similarities to driving one of our cars,” he told Marketing Week.

“Jaguar now designs its cars in a VR environment and sells its cars in a VR environment; it is incredibly successful for driving purchases.

“Yes, initially consumers think it is gimmick but they quickly convert and it is driving a lot of additional car sales for us.”

Robert Herd, head of communications at Jaguar Land Rover UK

Herd said there is now a “lack of fear” among consumers to try VR experiences – with Jaguar having previewed models including the F Type, F Face and Discovery Sport through the technology – and that the car brand will continue to “evolve” its role within the retail experience.

Standing out at Wimbledon

In a recent interview with Marketing Week, Alexandra Willis, head of comms, content and digital at the All English Lawn Tennis Club, advised sponsors: “Fans are so discerning now they can spot immediately if someone is trying to pigeon hole themselves into speaking in a millennial way. You have to be authentic to your brand and its ties to Wimbledon. Don’t just do Facebook Live as everyone else is.”

Yet, despite the warning, Jaguar’s Herd is confident it can stand out.

The luxury car brand will launch a series of films celebrating the ‘four emotions of Jaguar’ to fit around the tournament and has also created reactive videos so its activity can change based around the event. The latter will include a film that shows the Jaguar F-Pace roof opening and closing should it rain during play and the roof is required to close on Centre Court.

Herd says the key to sponsor success at Wimbledon is being reactive and brands that just sit back after creating an above the line campaign will do more damage than good.

He concluded: “We can change our messaging or video campaigns based on the results. As a sponsor, you’ll fail if your campaign can’t adapt in real-time.”

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