Insights EDU

Fact to Feeling: How VR is Transforming Marketing

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Andreea Ion Cojocaru | Co-Founder & CEO | NUMENA GmbH

06 Dec 2019 | 3 min read

The psychology of advertising is deceptively complex.  Technological advancements such as the internet are transforming marketing, and the rise of social media have enabled a saturation of advertisements and sponsored messages; the average person is exposed to approximately 5,000 advertisements every day, increased from 500 in the 1970s.

For this reason, brands must work considerably harder to seperate themselves from the sea of competition and capture the attention of consumers. This has marked a movement towards emotive based adverts, given that it is the most effective, with a 31% success rate compared to just 16% for objective and fact-based messaging.

The Problem

This year, BMW launched the newest model of their flagship supersport bike: the S 1000 RR. In its third generation, the improved performance due to highly innovative changes cannot be understated. It has a newly developed 4-cylinder in-line engine, 4kg lighter than before. The motorcycle also features the new BMW ShiftCam Technology, an entirely new technology which varies the valve timing and valve strokes on the intake side.

BMW S 1000 RR in VR marketing

At NUMENA, we were tasked with developing a virtual reality application to showcase these technological advances. The app’s first target audience was scheduled to be a group of several hungreed journalists flown in from all over the world to the racing track in Estoril, Portugal for the official press release in the spring of 2019. 

With our knowledge that emotive advertising is a far more powerful form of advertising, our challenge was to emphasize these technical improvements inside the motor, while providing something emotive enough to provide a memorable experience for the journalists.

Creating “Feeling” From “Fact”

We designed a virtual ride through the motorcycle. We magnified each part five hundred times (yes, that’s right!) and animated each key component of the motor. The viewer follows the path of an air particle: they enter the bike through the air intake, travel through the motor into the combustion chamber and out through the exhaust system. Where a significant technical change was implemented, we added a label with a key words and numbers. 



Although something as technical as a motor is in the spotlight, we recognised the importance of using stories to connect with the audience. Rather than throwing the player straight into the magnified motor, we orchestrated a mini-narrative. We gave secondary roles to animated rocks that dance to create a spatial enclosure for the main action to take place in. 

We also designed an entry fit for the main character: the motorcycle first materializes in the form of a rain of parts – 4000 of them, individually animated with real time shadows. The parts then arrange themselves together to create the motor, then the bike. We then pull the player into a mysterious tunnel to hide the scale transition and usher them straight into the intake chamber. 

The Impact

The medium of virtual reality seems to have a natural ability to stir emotions. We believe these emotions should not be brought about through artifice, but by offering players a truly novel perspective – in this case, a technically driven one. 

We received the first indication that our VR application hit the right mark when witnessing the reaction of BMW engineers. They were positively shocked by the rain of parts and the aesthetic view of the 4000 floating pieces (nuts and bolts included). Although they were intimately familiar with each one of them, this new view was not just aesthetic. 

It seemed to offer them a visual understanding of their own product from a new perspective. After the official launch, we organized multiple viewing events not just for the public, but also for hundreds of BMW Motorrad employees.

At the racing track in Estoril, many journalists exclaimed after being in VR: “Now I get it!”. Some insisted they go through the experience multiple times. One of them, a journalist from Italy, told us afterwards that going inside his bike had been his life’s dream. 

About the author:

Andreea Ion Cojocaru is an architect​,​ programmer ​and co-founder at NUMENA GmbH, an award-winning German company that develop​s​ interactive virtual ​applications ranging from medical simulators to training and marketing. Andreea has practiced across the US and Europe and is fluent in a wide range of mediums covering coding, 3D modeling, computer vision, gaming and graphics. She has a deep interest in the social and philosophical implications of XR technologies and is a frequent guest speaker on the impact of virtual reality​.​