MDN: St. Jude, Expedia Make Virtual Reality Experience
“The ad opens on a wide view of horses charging across a sweeping vista. As a camera pans over the scene, the voiceover from a child is eventually heard. “I love horses.”
The camera switches to a hospital room at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital occupied by Kiara, who’s shown with toy horses and coloring a picture of a horse. She was being filmed as part of a campaign launched by online travel site Expedia, in partnership with St. Jude.
She was about to go on a journey – virtually.
As part of its support for the Memphis hospital for several years running now, Expedia recently sent a team of employees armed with a 360-degree camera and live-streaming technology around the world. The team fanned out to Argentina, Miami and Playa del Carmen in Mexico to capture footage in real time – footage that was projected live onto the floor, walls and ceiling of a four-wall, temporary virtual reality installation at St. Jude.
Sara, an Expedia employee, is shown with her backpack and camera in Argentina as part of a video Expedia prepared about the project. This experience, she tells viewers, allows her to bring Kiara’s dream to her from thousands of miles away. And that “hopefully, she’ll feel as if she’s here in Argentina, on this adventure with wild horses.”
Kiara can be seen eventually being helped out of her wheelchair, tottering to one of the walls and “petting” a horse on one of the walls in front of her.
The immersive “Dream Adventures” experiences Expedia put together also included a dinosaur dig and a voyage underwater, where schools of fish and the sounds of bubbles and underwater life made the patient surrounded by it all feel, at least for a moment, as if they weren’t inside a hospital.
The nature of the campaign’s technology certainly fit in with the cutting-edge nature of the technology and facilities at St. Jude. And because of the live nature of the footage, each child was able to talk to and interact with the on-site trekkers beaming footage to them.
Rick Shadyac, president and CEO of St. Jude’s sister fundraising and awareness organization ALSAC, said the hospital also is in talks about possibly making the temporary installation that was built a more longer-term part of the hospital.
“Expedia has been a dedicated, longstanding partner of ours for more than five years,” Shadyac told The Daily News. “They’ve done some really incredible creative work for us already, and when they presented this option to us, we were all blown away.
“This was a great intersection of their business and our mission, the way they brought these experiences to life for these kids – to allow them to be a kid, to explore, to forget that they’re sick. It warms my heart tremendously.”
Expedia has posted videos of the different St. Jude experiences at https://www.expedia.com/dreamadventures. The travel company also has links at that site where Expedia users can donate their accumulated points to the hospital.
The Expedia+ rewards program gives points to travelers based on each flight, hotel, car or activity they book across Expedia channels. The points can be redeemed for travel as well as converted to a monetary value, and as part of the campaign users are encouraged to donate theirs to St. Jude.”