Samsung, Marvel use virtual reality for Avenger movie ads

Actor Robert Downey Jr attends the premiere of Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron at Dolby Theatre on April 13 in Hollywood, California. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Actor Robert Downey Jr attends the premiere of Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron at Dolby Theatre on April 13 in Hollywood, California. -- PHOTO: AFP 

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Samsung and Walt Disney's Marvel introduced a marketing campaign that for the first time promotes a movie using short virtual reality films.

The ad campaign, launched last week for the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, employs technology that immerses a user in a 3D world and makes them feel as if they are in the action.

Jamie Park, head of experimental marketing at Samsung, said the company had seen a growing interest from studios in virtual reality (VR) and Samsung would be doing more of this in the future.

"It's less about taking the movie content and putting it directly into VR and more about figuring out the best way to enhance the overall content," Park said.

Created by Los Angeles-based advertising firm 72andSunny, the short films give people a chance to feel what it is like to be one of the superhero characters such as Iron Man and Captain America in the Avengers.

"It's an ambition that is deeper than product placement,"said Bryan Rowles, executive creative director at 72andSunny."It's rare to work on a piece of technology in its infancy. It will be interesting to see where it goes and if it will catch on."

One of the short VR films co-stars international sports figures including soccer star Lionel Messi and professional football player Eddie Lacy, and shows their experience being transformed into a super heroes.

In another, a user experiences a battle between the Avengers and a robot army, in 3D slow motion, with a 360-degree view.

Virtual reality (VR) is known among gamers who use the gear to enhance playing videogames, but the technology could start appealing to a broader base of consumers. Facebook, for example, bought VR startup Oculus Rift for US$2 billion (S$2.67 billion) last year.

The campaign is made to work with Samsung's GS6 smartphone that fits with the company's VR glasses, Samsung Gear VR, though the films can be viewed on Android smartphones or any Web browser.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron kicked off the summer blockbuster season this weekend and had the second biggest domestic opening in history notching US$187.7 million in box office sales.