German startup holoride is an in-vehicle entertainment solution that provides passengers with virtual games and experiences designed to adapt to the vehicle as it’s moving. To boost brand awareness in the U.S. market, holoride partnered with Universal Pictures and Ford Motor Company for the release of the world’s first public in-vehicle VR experience. The experience was available at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles and was called, “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride.” holoride asked Walker Sands to secure advance journalist demos to increase buzz about the experience in mainstream media and build credibility with U.S. tech stakeholders. In the first week of launch, Walker Sands secured 148 feature placements, including 105 broadcast clips, in outlets like CNBC, TechCrunch, Variety, The Verge, Forbes and more — further strengthening holoride’s brand in the North American market through mainstream media.
Read the full project overview
Following a successful debut of its technology at CES 2019, holoride partnered with Universal Pictures and Ford Motor Company to create a never-before-seen in-vehicle VR experience available to the public at Universal CityWalk.
The “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” experience allowed CityWalk visitors to enter a 2020 Ford Explorer, buckle their seatbelts and put on headsets to enter a virtual reality game in which they were joined in the vehicle by a re-imagined Bride of Frankenstein as she made her way to Frankenstein to deliver him his heart. Passengers played the game, complete with sound effects and visuals, using a controller to defeat virtual monsters and obstacles. The goal was to create safe passage for the bride — and it all took place as the car was moving.
Two months before the experience was scheduled to launch, holoride approached Walker Sands to help secure journalist demos in advance of the public opening as well as subsequent feature coverage. holoride not only wanted to increase industry and media buzz about the experience, but also build brand awareness around its technology in mainstream U.S. media.
In collaboration with the PR teams at Universal Pictures and Ford, Walker Sands set out to deliver a PR campaign for “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride.” Ideally, the PR campaign would:
- Secure reporter demos to earn media placements in mainstream business, technology, entertainment, automotive and developer media outlets
- Increase brand awareness of holoride’s in-vehicle entertainment technology to U.S. tech stakeholders and investors with coverage in business publications
- Excite the general public about the future of in-vehicle technology by encouraging people to come to Universal CityWalk to take the world’s first public VR-ride, an experience that transformed a simple car ride into a trip to the mysterious and fascinating world of Victor Frankenstein
In addition to developing the communications plan for holoride, Walker Sands worked closely with Universal Pictures and Ford on messaging and outreach alignment, leading PR efforts for all three parties. To ensure all business stakeholders were aligned on the tight time frame, Walker Sands coordinated communications between the three companies, and later managed the schedules and briefings of spokespeople from each company during the demo and interview days.
To identify the best media contacts to invite for an early demo, Walker Sands conducted extensive research into past reporter coverage, including identifying reporters with personal interests in VR. One week before the preview days were slated to begin, Walker Sands began its targeted, embargoed outreach to over 100 contacts at mainstream business, technology, automotive, entertainment and developer outlets, inviting them to demo the “Universal Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” experience in L.A. before it was released to the general public. In the outreach, the team targeted each reporter with a different angle depending on their specific beat, while placing equal emphasis on showcasing holoride’s technology and promoting the involvement of Universal Pictures and Ford.
Through this strategically targeted, personal media outreach, Walker Sands secured 11 demos and interviews leading up to the event with major media outlets such as CNBC, VentureBeat, The Verge and TechCrunch. To maximize the impact of the demos, Walker Sands suggested capturing real-time footage of the journalists and what they were seeing in their VR headsets. This enabled the team to better showcase the power of holoride's technology and increased the odds of securing press coverage.
The Walker Sands team was on-site in L.A. during the reporter demos. To make sure the demo days ran smoothly, team members supported the coordination of demos and interviews with executives from holoride, Universal Pictures and Ford. After all demos and interviews were completed, Walker Sands worked with the stakeholders to assemble a media package with approved photos, B-roll, a trailer and the footage of the journalists’ experience — materials that were ready for use in the journalists’ articles the moment the embargo lifted. Finally, to increase awareness among the general public, the team distributed a press release encouraging people to visit the CityWalk and try the experience themselves.
In the first seven days of the “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” launch, Walker Sands secured 148 feature placements, including 105 broadcast segments.
One of the broadcast placements included a national segment on CNBC with a news anchor Walker Sands had developed a relationship with months prior to the launch. The 4-minute segment showcased her excitement around holoride’s technology and increased awareness of the brand among holoride’s U.S. audiences.
In total, within three months of the experience launch, Walker Sands earned nearly 200 media placements for holoride, which included 124 broadcast segments. Highlights included:
- TechCrunch: Holoride makes its in-car VR available to the public for the first time
- The Verge: Holoride opens its in-car VR experience to the public
- Variety: Universal CityWalk Gets In-Car ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ VR Experience
- Forbes: Are You Ready For In-Car VR? Audi & holoride Think So
- Financial Times: Audi’s Holoride launches in-car virtual reality
- BuzzFeed: 16 Futuristic Advances That Have Happened In Our World Over The Last Decade
- Cheddar: Alyssa Julya Smith Takes a Ride With Holoride
Thanks in part to the media buzz, holoride was even included on TIME’s 2019 Best Inventions list.
Ultimately, the “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” campaign earned tremendous results. Following the campaign, holoride expanded its partnership with Walker Sands, making Walker Sands the company’s agency of record, According to holoride’s CEO, “Continuing to partner with Walker Sands is the only logical thing to do.”