“This is still very early stages,” said Mehta Mehta, global executive creative director for Hogarth Worldwide, the specialist creative agency for WPP. Big clients, from a list that includes Pizza Hut, Duracell and Bombay Sapphire, are asking Mehta how to get their brands involved in VR experiences and launch activations on what’s been recently referred to as the metaverse.
“They’re asking, how do we jump the curve and move forward in this new world?” Mehta said.
The Metaverse Foundry. To meet marketers’ needs in developing immersive VR experiences and activations, Hogarth announced the opening of The Metaverse Foundry as a resource to all WPP clients. It pulls together over 700 creative content specialists, producers, visual artists, developers and technologists.
“Brands are all at different stages, either advanced or they just want to get into it,” said Mehta. “How do you get mass adoption? We consult on the ways to get people on.”
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Key pillars to The Metaverse Foundry’s approach are building a creative experience for visitors to hook into and being open to culture of the virtual community where the brand is appearing.
“The whole point of the metaverse is to build community,” said Mehta. “Brands can’t go there with an agenda. They need to solve for how to make payments in this environment, how to access an experience or product and change the model for access.”
Mehta added that to adapt in these early stages in the evolution of VR experiences and environments, marketers have to keep in mind that the appeal for “The Metaverse” is that it is decentralized. That’s why the new project is called a “foundry.”
Decentraland. Decentraland is a virtual community where users can create their own environments and artworks using the Builder tool, and marketers can host events and launch contests and games with other SKD tools.
In December, Hogarth WW client Under Armour partnered with NBA star Stephen Curry and Decentraland for an NFT-activation that features digital replicas of sneakers, celebrating Curry’s achievement in becoming the league’s all-time three-point basket leader.
Decentraland also is a destination for virtual assets, allowing users to trade and buy land in the virtual environment, as well as wearables for the avatars that users take on. For a basketball fan that has an avatar in Decentraland, they might like to show off a replica of the sneakers that Curry wore when he broke the all-time record for three point shots, per the Under Armour partnership.
Acura Integration. Today, Acura announced that they will become the first automaker to open a digital showroom in the metaverse, also on Decentraland. The showroom will be called Acura of Decentraland, and will be accessible to users starting on March 22.
Acura will be debuting their 2023 Integra, and serious car buyers who reserve the new model (the first 500) will have the opportunity to claim a limited-edition NFT designed by 3D artist Andreas Wannerstedt. First, the customer gets a base NFT with the reservation. Upon delivery of their new car, they will then upgrade to a unique Integra NFT that they can flex in the metaverse.
In the Acura virtual showroom, visitors will be able to explore the 3D environment and see key features of the vehicle. They can also play an exclusive racing game, “Beat That,” and browse a collection of avatar wearables also designed by Wannerstedt.
The metaverse activation is linked to an integrated campaign timed with March Madness hoops, and MullenLowe Los Angeles provided agency services for the effort.
Skechers activation. LIfestyle brand Skechers is also dipping their toe in the metaverse on Decentraland. They signed a “lease” in the platform’s “Fashion District.”
According to a company release, they filed trademark applications to sell virtual goods, including footwear and apparel, with more announcements to come on what their virtual shop will look like and what products users can browse when they visit.
Why we care. Brands are at different stages, and are offering different levels of commitment to at least one virtual outpost of the metaverse. Note that Decentraland isn’t a property of Facebook’s parent company Meta.
When speaking with Hogarth’s global executive creative director, Mehta Mehta, the advertising veteran shared what he’s heard from clients time and again – brands are looking for new customers and where to reach them.
New environments equal new customers, but marketers should also look hard at who their customers are and see if there is crossover appeal for VR users, gamers and other digital explorers. Knowing this, marketers can assess what platform to engage and how involved they want to get.
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