NEW YORK: McCann New York's virtual reality “Field Trip to Mars” campaign for aerospace group Lockheed Martin won 19 Lions at Cannes this year, more than any other single piece of work, and a leading McCann executive has explained how they executed the brief.

Mike Medeiros, SVP, Executive Strategy Director at McCann NY, spoke exclusively with Warc to explain that a key objective for Lockheed Martin was to attract young engineers to its business, diverting them from the likes of Google or Apple.

Perception about the company also needed to change because, as a defence contractor, Lockheed Martin carried a certain amount of baggage with them. “They want to change that perception and help people see the truth about them.

Part of our goal is to show that they are an innovator in tech,” Medeiros said. “Another goal we set for ourselves is to be as innovative with their marketing as Lockheed Martin are with their products. When you work with a client who does amazing things, you hold yourself to [a] higher standard.”

This innovative approach to marketing took the form of McCann recommending that Lockheed Martin reclaim its rightful place as a pioneer in space travel and to design a group VR experience for schoolchildren.

“That became our mission: Lockheed Martin is building the tech to explore the galaxy and take people to Mars,” Medeiros explained. “Now they have to inspire the first generation of space age explorers.”

Specifically, McCann and its client worked on rigging a school bus with state of the art technology so that schoolchildren could experience a virtual trip to Mars.

It meant that when they looked out the windows, instead of viewing the streets of Washington DC that the bus was actually driving along, the children felt they had been magically transported to the Red Planet. And the experience was achieved without the use of headsets or goggles.

According to Medeiros, the bus generated 100% positive sentiment. “The buzz, engagement and conversation around the launch were important and people were talking positively about the brand,” he said.

“We can always get coverage in The Washington Post, Space News and other industry publications, but this was covered in Forbes and Wired, publications that attract innovators and thought leaders. That coverage ultimately drove record traffic to the Lockheed Martin site.”

Data sourced from Warc