A high stakes game
I kind of grew up in the metaverse. When I was in 7th grade, I would enter the virtual world to hang out with people I knew from school and across the globe. I would accomplish tasks, explore, sell stuff and slay beasts. The world was called Runescape. It was a Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game that anyone could enter through an internet browser. Then in high school, I entered a new world, and it was even bigger. Even more immersive. It was called World of Warcraft. They were both fascinating, with their own economies, virtual items worth real-life money (but paid for with virtual coins), friendships, clubs and infinite things to do. Some people dedicated their lives to it. The game was the brand, and the brand was the game. You were the customer blissfully fishing in a stream to level up your fishing skill.
I’m using the term metaverse loosely here, but who can define the current version of the metaverse, anyway? You’ll see a lot of vague definitions out there – and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer – so let’s just say it’s a new and immersive way to interact with technology. Think virtual reality, virtual goods and augmented reality. You can access the metaverse through a screen, like the game Fortnite, no VR headset required. Games and gaming companies have been pioneers of the metaverse from day one. It’s a familiar space for consumers. That isn’t changing. What is changing is that the brand isn’t necessarily the game and the game isn’t necessarily the brand anymore. So let’s talk about how your brand can meet consumers (especially Gen Z) in the metaverse through gaming.
(Quick note: There might be a misconception that Facebook owns the metaverse because it renamed itself Meta. This is far from true. It is building a platform in the metaverse, similar to how Facebook is a platform on the internet. It’s just clever branding.)
Dipping your toes into the metaverse
As a brand, one way to dip your toes into metaverse marketing is to piggyback off successful games to establish a presence.
It could be something that is more of a guerrilla stunt, like Wendy’s (you know, that Wendy) playing Fortnite’s “Food Fight Edition” on the side of Team Pizza to defeat Team Burgers because their burgers were frozen (underlining Wendy’s credo of “fresh, never frozen!”).
Or you could find a game like Animal Crossing (where anyone can create items for characters to wear) and create branded gear to get some free in-game advertising. That’s what Doe-Anderson did for Texas Roadhouse, offering Cactus Blossom hats and other cool branded wearables.
We’re seeing fashion and clothing brands lead the charge into branding in the metaverse, and that makes sense. I mean, what is your avatar going to wear if not designer clothes?
One way they are doing this is partnering with Roblox to create experiences that give people wearables. In early 2021, Gucci created the Gucci Garden Exhibition, a place where your character could enter different rooms. The rooms changed your avatar, and you left with custom clothing depending on the order in which you visited the rooms and where you spent the most time. More recently, it has partnered with Superplastic to launch a line of NFTs and virtual goods called SUPERGUCCI.
Diving into the metaverse
Another way is to build metagaming experiences yourself. They can be independent or live on an existing platform like Roblox. Again, fashion and apparel are leading the way.
Louis Vuitton launched Louis The Game, an interactive adventure celebrating 200 years since the birth of its founder. You can collect fashion accessories for the metaverse; there are also 30 NFTs hidden throughout.
Vans built a game inside the existing Roblox world called Vans World. It’s a simple skateboarding game where your avatar can collect free Vans apparel and accessories, skate in a vast, open world and take part in competitions.
Enter The Sandbox
There are a million different ways to advertise in the metaverse, and it would take a thesis to mention all the options and possibilities, but here’s one to keep an eye on: The Sandbox. What’s The Sandbox, you ask? From Gemini:
The Sandbox is a decentralized, community-driven virtual world where creators can design, share, and sell in-world assets. The Sandbox metaverse is one of several blockchain-based virtual worlds attempting to change the dynamics of the gaming market and reward creators for the value they produce through user-generated content.
Imagine Minecraft with its own cryptocurrency, and you can sell items you create in The Sandbox for it. The items you create are owned by you because they are minted as NFTs. You get rewarded for building, playing and participating in the ecosystem.
But it’s not just a game. It’s a world where you can express yourself, your brand or your art in any way you imagine. You can buy a plot of land where you host an experience about the history of your company or product. You can host experiences like virtual concerts. You can create items to sell as NFTs.
It’s a new world where the metaverse marketing options are limited only by your imagination, and brands are buying up space quickly.
Start! Whether you want to dip your toes in or dive in headfirst is up to you, but the metaverse is here to stay. It’s big, it’s confusing and it’s intimidating – but time spent in the metaverse and gaming is really high quality. Consumers are focused and immersed. They want to be there with you. The sooner you start, the better you will understand it and the more visibility your brand will have in it as it evolves.
But, please, make sure it’s clever. Nobody wants to see a banner ad in the metaverse.
Our disclaimer: Be clever, but be careful out there
The metaverse is the Wild West of the digital world. It’s new with endless possibilities, and with all things new, there will be nefarious people there to hurt others through scams, hacks and abuse. Go forth cautiously, not recklessly (with a wise partner to guide you). Make sure your ducks are in a row and stay safe.
Interested in learning more or talking about how these trends may apply to your brand? Get in touch!