Big Businesses That Use Virtual Reality to Help Their Brand

The use of virtual reality (VR) by marketers is rapidly gaining popularity. It’s a great method for marketers to develop an immersive, digitally focused experience that encourages consumer involvement.

We’ve talked extensively about how powerful of a tool VR headsets can be for attracting visitors to your tradeshow booth, but it’s worth looking at how some big brands – ranging from American Express to Marriott International – have used virtual reality to make their marketing campaigns (and stories) come to life. 

Here are a few examples: 


The shoe company TOMS, which is renowned for its charitable work, used virtual reality in its “Virtual Giving Trip” campaign. Every pair of shoes bought as part of this fundraising effort was subsequently matched by TOMS with a donation of a fresh pair to a kid in need. 

TOMS VR Giving Trip

Then, on this charitable tour, the company’s staff and partners traversed the globe to give children new shoes while also observing their own efforts. In order to invite their customers to take part in this important journey, TOMS teamed up with Within (formerly known as VRSE), a VR technology startup, to develop an in-store virtual reality experience. 

Customers virtually experienced this donation tour by donning virtual reality headsets. They saw the kids get their shoes and get their feet measured. They even “met” one of the recipients and observed how they lived as well. This is a great example of using VR to create experiences for customers that they otherwise would have never been able to take part in. 

American Express 

Amex offered a wide range of on-site events and immersive experiences for attendees as part of its sponsorship of the 2015 US Open. The “You vs. Sharapova” VR experience, which let players compete against tennis great Maria Sharapova in a simulated match using live action and computer-generated images of the athlete, was the centerpiece of Amex’s on-site fan experience.

Then, due to the success of the first campaign, Amex made a comeback at the 2017 US Open with a fresh virtual reality experience, teaming up with Venus Williams to introduce “Air Tennis.” In order to create an immersive gaming experience, this live game installation combined a variety of sensitive and specially developed technology, such as air haptics and motion capture systems. Players used their hands and body motions to return as many virtual tennis balls as they could while competing against an AI opponent.

In the summer of 2022, AmEx launched ‘American Express Summer Drop‘ AR treasure hunt in London with real-life prizes for tickets! Cardholders are able to win by finding these virtual “drops” for a music summer series sponsored by American Express and vouchers to local shops (or shoppes as said in London). As part of this marketing effort, they commissioned artist Andy Gellenber – @andygellenberg – to create stunning murals with QR codes that when scanned, direct to the Summer Experiences.

American Express commissioned Andy Gellenberg to create this mural of Venus Williams as part of their Summer Drop experiences with chances to win tickets to Wimbledon.

The New York Times 

The New York Times has been able to give readers a sense of place by incorporating AR and VR into its reporting. This improves narratives in which place and time are important, placing the reader with reporters covering the front lines.

The Displaced, a virtual reality video about three children uprooted by conflict, was released in connection with the Times’ introduction of the NYT VR app in 2015. Viewers can use virtual reality to experience what it’s like to be in a refugee camp from the perspective of individuals who are there.

Marriott International 

Marriott provides a range of locations for social and business events in addition to their hotel services. With a VR powered headset, attendees and event planners can receive a realistic impression of how their event might appear. The ability to examine 360-degree, 3D images of specially configured room setups makes event planning simpler than ever.

Customers at Marriott have access to a cutting-edge method for organizing events without being there in person. Using VR technology to bring the venue to the client is a great approach to encourage more sales.


A Happy Meal box that could be disassembled and folded into “Happy Goggles”—kid-friendly virtual reality headsets—was offered at 14 McDonald’s outlets in Sweden in 2016. These headsets transported the young customers on a skiing excursion.

The VR headset functioned similarly to Google Cardboard, a device that transforms a standard smartphone into an immersive, 3D experience by using special lenses.

Kids refolded the boxes into a headgear that held a smartphone once they completed their meal. After entering virtual reality, participants took part in a snow-carving adventure while collecting gold stars and dodging obstacles.

This was a simple and innovative way for McDonalds to work towards keeping Happy Meals and their “prizes” relevant in an increasingly digital world. 


Vroom, an online automobile dealer, makes the car-buying process as realistic as going to a showroom. Vroom has developed a VR-enabled showroom where customers may browse 15 various automobile models with prices ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 while donning a VR  headset. Customers may view and experience car models from the comfort of their own homes, from digitally opening the glove compartment box to hearing authentic engine sounds and taking 360-degree test drives.

Giving them a memorable experience is the goal. The utilization of VR technology by Vroom is a great illustration of how a company can make an online shopping experience come to life and turn leads into consumers.

oculus quest white


If these big brands and their creativity have inspired you to introduce VR into your marketing efforts, reach out to eTech today to learn more about renting the latest VR headsets for your next marketing campaign. Unless you plan to use the headsets on a daily basis, it’s likely a much more affordable option to rent the units for your marketing activation event than buying them outright. 

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