SINGAPORE: Lego, the Danish toymaker, sees virtual reality as playing a central role in the "retailtainment" strategy it is rolling out across Asia around its Nexo Knights property.

This forms one of three pillars of an integrated campaign – the other two being events and the Nexo Knights Academy, a gamified mission-based campaign site on – which aims to bring together the physical and digital worlds, including in ways similar to the current Pokémon Go craze sweeping the world.

"These are bolstered with very proven content-marketing assets, such as our long-format TV cartoon series, TVCs, short-format webisodes and a detailed social-media plan to engage with parents as well," Ivan Zeng, senior manager of digital marketing, Lego APAC, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

He explained that the brand was developing opportunities for both physical and digital play in its retail and event spaces.

"Nexo Knights offers a unique proposition of both brick-based and digital play and we think retailtainment could ignite excitement among kids and be a key recruitment and engagement driver for the launch," he said.

The 'retailtainment' part of the campaign involves the use of cardboard VR to allow children to discover more about the various characters and explore their training ground, and a portal that uses motion-tracking cameras and shield and wand controllers to follow and respond to the player's movements as they experiment with Nexo Knight powers in training situations.

Bas Muller, executive producer at digital production company MediaMonks Singapore, which developed these touchpoints, outlined some of the challenges, including ensuring the safety of children and the adapting to the different reactions of children in different markets.

"In some countries kids are getting more enthusiastic and are really getting into the gameplay," he said of the portal. "So much so that we had to add additional protective layers to prevent damage."

"It's important for a brand to be in touch with their consumers," he added. "If you have an opportunity to interact with your consumer on the retail floor, it's a win-win situation."

He advised other brands contemplating using VR – which is coming within the reach of more people as prices fall – to make sure they know all the safety rules in each market and to secure the equipment in order to remove the need for supervision.

But none of that will matter if the content isn't up to scratch. "It's important for advertisers to make relevant content for VR and not to just tick the VR box by creating a 360 video," he said.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff