A little over a decade ago, the notion of virtual reality (VR) was no more than a lofty concept often featured in futuristic Hollywood films like the Keanu Reeves box office hit The Matrix (1999) and Tom Cruise’s Minority Report (2002). Today, however, VR is no longer restricted to the realms of human imagination but a tangible and integral part of the digital landscape. While the burgeoning prominence of this new-fangled technology has helped to break down geographical boundaries, the complexities of navigating it continues to mystify many.
Then there are those who have managed to adeptly harness this technology for its purposes – like renowned French jeweller CHAUMET. To promote its landmark exhibition in Beijing, Imperial Splendors: The Art of Jewelry Since the 18th Century, the storied Maison enlisted French creative agency Les Gens to produce a 360 video to promote the event, which took place from April 11 to July 2 at the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum. It also collaborated with local digital marketing expert Digital Luxury Group (DLG) to integrate this VR experience within WeChat, the nation’s most widely used social media platform.
Consular Sword, also known as Napoleon I's Coronation Sword
Twice the size of Vatican City in Rome and thrice as big as Moscow’s Kremlin, The Forbidden City is the world’s largest ancient palace and one of China’s most well preserved historical structures. The showcase saw an assemblage of over 300 objects from 17 different museums (including the Palace Museum itself, Musée du Louvre and CHAUMET’s heritage museum in Paris) displayed within the Wumen gallery. “We are honoured to be in such a symbolic and historic site to present a collection that will likely never be shown together as one again,” says Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO of CHAUMET on the exposition.
Curated by former director and honorary president of the Musee du Louvre, Henri Loyrette, items on show dated back to the 18th century and ranged from paintings and silverware to iconic jewellery pieces such as the Reed Brooch (1893) belonging to Princess Caroline of Hanover, and artefacts like the Consular Sword (also known as Napoleon I's Coronation Sword) that was commissioned by the former emperor from CHAUMET founder Marie-Étienne Nitot, for his 1804 coronation. A second VR experience that took users on a virtual tour of the actual showcase within the Palace Museum was also released in tandem, allowing the exhibition to extend its reach beyond the doors of this celebrated palace in Beijing, to the rest of the world.
Imperial Splendors: The Art of Jewelry Since the 18th Century exhibition in Beijing
To further drive the impact of its VR assets and reach the Chinese audience, CHAUMET worked with DLG to develop an engaging WeChat campaign. This included a WeChat Moment ad featuring a 15-second promotional video clip, which depicted the showcase through clever storytelling. Rather than providing a laundry list of the exceptional pieces on show, a short film was conceived as a movie trailer of sorts, with CHAUMET portrayed as the director and the displayed artefacts as actors in the production (which is the exhibition).
The 15-second promotional video on WeChat
A link to both aforementioned VR experiences was included at the end of the WeChat Moment ad as well. It should be noted that unlike most mobile campaigns featured in WeChat Moment ads, these VR assets were integrated within the programme for seamless user experience instead of hosted on a third-party platform. This allowed users to stay within the app throughout the journey, instead of having to navigate away from WeChat.
“It is exciting to see a historical brand like CHAUMET embracing innovation as a way to target a younger audience,” comments Pablo Mauron, partner and managing director of DLG China. “While interest in VR within the luxury industry has been growing, many questions remain with regards to engagement and return on investment. This campaign shows that when associated with the right concept and proper execution, it is possible for brands to develop engaging content through VR,” he concludes.
To play the campaign (mobile only), visit the website or scan the QR code above. WiFi access is recommended for the viewing of this campaign and slow loading times are to be expected when accessing it from outside China.