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Seeing things: Inside New Zealand’s first VR magazine cover

For Idealog’s technology issue, we wanted to find a way to use contemporary technological processes to create a cover that embodied the kinds of technologies that would be covered within its pages. Could we code a cover? Automate the design with an algorithm? Get readers to download an app and make it come to life? Could we make it a hologram? 

Whatever it was going to be, we knew we didn’t know how to do it, so we asked Wellington-based digital agency Resn if it wanted to take it over carte blanche – all we needed was the masthead and the barcode. We expected that Resn would come back to us with something that would move slightly online and was perhaps minimally interactive. We didn’t anticipate a custom-built VR experience, creating what is almost certainly New Zealand’s (and, maybe, judging by one fruitless Google search, the world’s) first virtual reality magazine cover.

“VR presents a new field to play in,” says Resn creative/strategist Gabe Mathieson. “The opportunities of this medium are vast and super exciting, with Cardboard being an ideal way for people to get a taste of virtual pie.”

Wade Cowin, Resn’s creative director, says the team focused on a gently paced, meditative experience letting users explore a surreal and abstract space. 

“Conceptually, we wanted to create a sense that the environment is aware of the user’s presence. Users have to gain the trust of this friendly yet timid ecosystem to be embraced rather than feared. We wanted to give users the feeling of influence and effect in the virtual space rather than simply being a passive spectator. Inside this concept space, users who move suddenly may scare inhabitants of the environment.”

But not everyone has a Cardboard headset yet, so Resn asked Auckland company Bend to build us some to give to our subscribers. And who better to help us bring the whole thing to fruition than Spark, a digital-services company that wants to facilitate beautiful, technology-enabled moments, a perfect description of the world Resn has built. 

Clive Ormerod, Spark’s general manager of marketing, spent over six years working at Nike and saw first-hand—and often contributed to—the emotional storytelling that today typifies the brand. And he sees many parallels between his current and previous roles.

“Nike was all about unleashing the potential of athletes and making them better. And our genuine ambition at Spark is helping New Zealand be a better place. The products are different but the objectives and ambitions are very similar.”

Ormerod says you don’t need to be a Nike or an Apple to develop a strong emotional connection with customers. 

“Any brand can do that,” he says. “But, it has to be relevant. And for us, that relevance is technology.” 

To show that ‘Magic Happens Everyday’, Spark has just released a series of stories that show how the technology within its portfolio enables Kiwis to be entertained and connected, and also how Spark can help businesses connect with customers. 

“I see it as the start of our new way of connecting with our customers,” he says. “I see it as the start of a body of work that’s going to allow us to ensure that we are competitive in market like we’ve been for the last few years, but also making sure that we make our customers feel something … The best brands in the world, and the brands that keep going from strength to strength, are the ones that make their customers feel something,” he says. 

So grab your device, scan the QR code (or head to the URL), fold up your cardboard headset, put your headphones on, explore the world and feel something.


Please have your mobile device, cardboard VR headset* and headphones ready.

Scan the QR code with your mobile QR reader


Go to TIMID.RESN.CO.NZ on your mobile device.

You will be prompted to place your mobile into the cardboard headset on arrival (those without a cardboard headset can also explore the world, but it’s not as immersive).

Turn on, tune in, drop out.

Supported devices/browsers:

  • Android Nexus 5 (2013) or above
  • Android Samsung g/s5 or above (2014+)
  • iPhone 5 or above 
??If you’re an individual subscriber, you’ve received an Idealog/Spark/Resn/Fold headset with this issue. If you’re not an individual subscriber, you can use any generic cardboard VR headset, but if you’d like to use one of our Resn-designed headsets, simply subscribe to Idealog at idealog.co.nz/subs and we’ll send a free headset to the first 50 new subscribers. 

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

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