CEOs experience homelessness: another failed approach at VR Technology

Apparently, for many CEOs it’s hard to believe that a business decision can lead to something else other than a new private jet. During the CEO Sleepout event in Australia this year, they were encouraged to experience the vague, theoretical economic term called “poverty”.


The slogan for this event “ CEO Sleepout: Rise to the Challenge” sounds more like what you would expect to read on a first person shooter game during a zombie apocalypse. But the most cynical part of this event was, without doubt, the moment VR technology was used to help CEOs see what it is like to… well… not have fancy shiny thingies.


Apart from the ethical sides – how much money did they spend? Who bought the VR technology? What the hell? – we are going to concentrate, just like our fellow CEOs, on the vague, theoretical economic part of this.


The market for VR technology: it looks promising, it looks futuristic, but no one really quite knows how to exploit it. VR and social awareness campaigns appear to be a new trend, as there have been several tries to combine the two. And it does seem like a good way to directly reach rich people with fancy gadgets. However, in the case of CEO Sleepout, this plan backfired. Was it because there is enough awareness of the difficulties and trauma people face when being homeless? No. It was simply a case of the right message being broadcasted through the wrong platform.


Making a video or talking about poverty would not have gotten such a bad reaction from the public as making a VR video. Why is that? These things are pretty similar, right? One is a video, one is a VR video. So what happened?


Here is what went wrong:

  1. The “virtual reality touch”: Pictures are normal. Videos are normal. VR videos are fancy. They look expensive. No one is going to say straightforward how much they spent making it, and normal people might not be familiar with it. Everyone knows how to make a video on their phone, but how to you make a 360° video? And this leads us to:
  2. Ethics: This is a charity event. If it appears that you are spending a ton of money for something that’s not important and is completely off-topic for your goal, it might hurt your image. Even if making the video itself wasn’t as costly as one might think, it still leaves people asking questions like “Why didn’t you donate that money instead ?”


This leads us to our final point: raising social awareness appears to have hit a wall when it comes to fancy technology such as VR. This takes us one step closer to finding out where the true potential for this market actually is, by, ironically, eliminating another segment where it is inappropriate. It’s not to say there won’t be a point in time where these two spheres won’t be compatible – but that won’t happen until VR technology becomes a part of our daily lives. Figuring out how exactly, however, is still a mystery.


So what stopped this event from going completely viral? It’s simple: there was lack of content. A video of about 9 seconds of CEOs sitting in chairs isn’t going to make it. Even the internet has limits to making boring things seem interesting.


Were we wrong on this?  Tell us what you think!





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