Virtual Reality brings sustainable brand stories to life

This article was earlier edited and published on Sustainable Brands.

Imagine yourself on top of an offshore wind turbine, feeling the strong wind in your hair and the vibration from the powerful movement of the blades, looking out into the endless blue ocean decorated not by black smoke but only white glistening turbines.

Thanks for Dong Energy’s recent venture into the realm of VR, You can now FEEL the greenness of wind energy. This morning at  SB’16 Copenhagen, Filip Engel, head of Dong Energy Group Sustainability was joined by Ryan Belle from VRScout to show us VR’s transformational power in sustainability communication.

See for yourself


Modern energy companies certainly have many recognized challenges, as Filip told us:

“There is great pressure to produce more energy in a sustainable way to save not only the environment but also people from feeling guilty when using energy” -Filip Engel

The good news is that renewable energy is catching momentum. Now in Denmark, more than half power and heat are already from green sources, the progress of which can be greatly attributed to Dong Energy, which however still find it challenging to shake their “black” image. Filip brought up a few barriers in their attempts at communication:

  • Old school branding is not authentic.
  • Overload of information
  • People don’t really pay attention to ads anymore
  • People don’t listen to authorities
  • People cannot see or feel the “cleanness” of energy

Therefore to take the brand outreach to the next level, Dong Energy turned to VR for a magical touch a few weeks ago and started some unique campaigns focusing on giving unique experiences. For example, a offshore wind turbine park safari during which a VR experience is also provided on board.

The feedback has been very positive. Who wouldn’t want the total immersion experience from the top of a wind turbine? And a even better question: How else can you ask someone to sit down and listen for 5 minutes without the cool VR “bait”?


Dong energy has been providing the VR experience of standing on top of a turning wind turbine for the attendees of SB 16 Copenhagen. (Photo credit: Dong Energy)

As long as you don’t live under a rock, you have probably heard that : “Virtual Reality is the next big thing.” Ryan Bell, a recognized US based VR film maker and expert gave a further peek into this up and coming phenomenon with a few more concrete examples of its application.


Ryan and Filip. Breakfast presentation at “Top of the Town”. Radisson Blu, Copenhagen.

(Photo credit: Dong Energy)

“It’s all especially exciting at this early stage because people are exploring and some very cool things are happening” – Ryan Bell

For example, VR can show the journey of a child refugee from his/her perspective. Being in a child’s life through VR give viewers a stronger connection than just having them read a story in the newspaper. TOMS has also utilized VR to bring their customers to the other part of the world through a “virtual giving tour” to connect them to the kids they are giving a pair of shoes to.

VR gives new ways to tell a story that people can truly understand. “It activate feelings,” Ryan stressed this point as the key advantage of VR. It truly touches you and put you in the position where you are empowered to be part of the change.

Another good news is that: it’s not ridiculously expensive to do VR. A camera and a monopod are all the hardware you need and the price can stay well under the $1000 mark.

While we are celebrating VR’s potential to create new ways for brands to make their sustainability process come alive and drive engagement, it is wise to keep a clear mind towards it and ponder over some critical aspects.

One question addressed by the audience was “when to use VR and when not to?” (From Tom, co-founder of Nice and Serious Marketing)

Ryan gave a thought through answer: It certainly takes strategic thinking to find the right story and scale for VR to realize its true power as an “empathy machine”, to make emotional connections. The industry is figuring this out as it goes.

The future is quite bright as people are always searching for good content. Moreover, as the devices to access VR are getting cheaper, there is no doubt that more people will soon be on board. As Ryan concluded, VR connects people in a powerful way and we are now

“gathering around the digital camp fire” — Ryan Bell

Once companies get the “why” of using VR, the technical part of “how” and “what” will follow with ease.