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GE, Mini jump to NY Times' virtual reality film for immersive experience

GE and vehicle manufacturer Mini are transporting New York Times subscribers into fully immersive brand experiences as sponsors of the publication?s first virtual reality film, which is being released via a smartphone application. 

The New York Times, in partnership with Google, is delivering cardboard virtual reality devices for readers to insert their smartphone devices into and view an innovative 360-degree film in which subscribers are brought directly into the world of a child affected by the global refugee crisis. GE and Mini brought their own virtual reality experiences into the unique undertaking, in an effort to resonate more with consumers through the immersive technology and its poignant subject matter. 

"Mobile is critical [to the film]," said Jake Silverstein, editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine. "The full immersive virtual reality experience will only be available to smartphone users for our first slate of VR films. 

"The Times is committed to experimenting with new technologies and new forms of journalistic expression," he said. "With all stories, we try to figure out the best way to tell the story."

Technology innovation
While virtual reality is becoming more common amongst marketers attempting to connect more with consumers, the technology is still not considered mainstream. The New York Time?s new film will bring the platform further into everyday experiences for consumers, but more importantly will be driving a more compelling narrative and make a lasting impression on consumers regarding the refugee crisis. 

Mini will be sharing two short virtual reality films within the mobile app and NY Time?s film. The videos named Backwater and Real Memories will take users into an examination of new technology such as virtual reality, and how it transforms the narratives and how stories are viewed. 
GE has been known for its efforts within the virtual reality spectrum, and it is working hard to align its brand image with innovations in this area and technology in general. The brand worked with the NY Times in-house ad agency T Brand Studio to develop its virtual reality video discussing how design in industry and technology is derived from nature. 

GE's past virtual reality features

To view the NY Times film The Displaced, subscribers of NY Times digital and print can download the free app for iOS and Android. To fully immerse themselves into the experience, the publisher is sending out Google Cardboard viewers along with print editions on November 7 while digital subscribers can opt for a free delivery through email. 

Virtual reality fun
Virtual reality continues to become an effective tool in connecting with consumers through unique interpretations.

For instance, Universal Studios tapped into recently released film Everest?s breathtaking imagery for a mobile virtual reality platform that digitally transports users to the mountain (see more). 

Also, grooming product subscription service Birchbox Man delivered a unique augmented reality experience to members to further develop its newer male side of the service (see more). 

"Virtual reality offers the unique ability to bring viewers to inaccessible places and connect with the subjects of a film in a very personal way," Mr. Silverstein said. "For that reason, virtual reality is an incredible tool to enable our viewers to experience what life is like for children caught in the global refugee crisis. 

"Virtual reality has the potential to become an important tool for journalism at The Times," he said. 

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer