Some brands have really taken the metaverse, NFTs and crypto to heart, embracing the opportunity to reach bigger audiences, establish their digital footprint, and grow revenue.
What these technologies make possible is developing at a dizzying pace, so it’s interesting to see who the early adopters are, what they’re doing, and how they’re benefiting.
We’ll look at:
- Nike and Nikeland
- Stella Artois and Zed Run
- Forever 21 and Forever 21 Shop City
- Wendy’s and the Wendyverse
- Sentosa and Sentosa Crossing
- Starbucks and their NFT initiatives
- Louis Vuitton and Louis: The Game
- Gucci and Gucci Town
- Adidas and Into the Metaverse
- Coca-Cola and Special Olympics in 2021
- Walmart and crypto
- Amazon and blockchain
Nikeland is Nike’s first foray into the metaverse, and very impressive it is too.
Hosted on Roblox – the insanely popular gaming platform – it brings together gaming, marketing, and sales into a seamless whole. With parks, courts, obstacle courses, and a running track, Nikeland lets visitors play mini-games and enjoy a lifestyle centered on sport and play.
Players can even buy digitized Nike gear showcased in the game’s outfit collection to customize their avatar, then share their outfit for fellow players to admire.
2. Stella Artois
Over the years Stella Artois has often used horse racing to promote its brand. With the advent of the metaverse, they’ve now taken this to a new level with Zed Run, a metaverse gaming environment where players buy, sell, and breed digital racehorses, then enter them into races.
Stella Artois has even “bred” a set of unique horses for the platform, complete with themed skins, as well as creating a 3D racetrack where the action takes place. At the time of writing, Zed Run claims 100,000 global users and 1000% growth in the first half of 2022.
3. Forever 21
Forever 21 has really committed to the metaverse, creating a gaming environment called Forever 21 Shop City (hosted on Roblox again) where visitors can create their own Forever 21 stores, designed to their exact spec, and even hire non-player “employees”.
The aim of the game is simple: make your store(s) the most successful in Shop City. As part of this there’s an unusually close link between the digital items and the brand’s real-world merch, so as soon as Forever 21 drops a new collection in its actual stores, it’s immediately available in this proto-metaverse.
Wendy’s has created its Sunrise City Metaverse Experience on Meta’s Horizon Worlds, with a big focus on breakfasts. The new city is just part of the rapidly expanding “Wendyverse”.
In a delightfully weird design choice, Wendys has given the Sunrise City Metaverse Experience a fantasy medieval vibe, with a castle in the sky full of bacon bridges, flying biscuits, and avatars paragliding on breakfast potatoes.
It’s like a hungry person’s hallucination.
It may be weird, but it seems to be working, with Wendy’s reporting over 650 million media impressions in the first couple of months.
A real-world holiday island near Singapore, Sentosa was hit hard by the pandemic but it’s bouncing back.
Sentosa Crossing is a digital replica of the actual island created on Nintendo Switch’s platform Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The idea is to give people in Singapore a safe, cool place to hang out without the hassle of lockdown measures. Sentosa Crossing is also about increasing Sentosa’s appeal to younger audiences, with take-home freebies and the opportunity to join parties and yoga classes.
What’s impressive about Starbucks’ NFT initiative is how closely it reflects the company’s mission, even ensuring the blockchain technology used meets Starbucks’ sustainability commitments.
The idea of a “third place” – the space between home and work where people can bond – is central to Starbucks’ identity, so its NFTs, which take the form of access passes, are designed to create a new, global digital community where branded collections give customers exclusive access to experiences. Instead of the short-term benefit of a regular NFT auction, Starbucks is building something with lasting value.
7. Louis Vuitton
The fashion industry is leading the way into the metaverse marketplace, typically offering unique NFT wearables that fashion fans can use to customize in-game avatars.
Luxury brand Louis Vuitton recently released a 30-piece NFT collection within its “Louis: The Game” app to celebrate its 200th birthday.
The game itself takes you on a journey through a historic city as a character called Vivienne, an anthropomorphism of the brand’s monogram, who revisits key moments in Louis Vuitton history.
Gucci recently released Gucci Town, a metaverse piazza in the landscape of Roblox.
It’s a place for players to discover more about the House of Gucci and its heritage, as well as to express their own individuality and connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world.
Described by Gucci as “a digital destination on Roblox dedicated to those seeking the unexpected”, Gucci Town offers a series of experiences including mini games, art exhibitions, and shopping for digital Gucci items to customize Roblox avatars.
Adidas recently launched an NFT campaign called “Into the Metaverse” in collaboration with three top NFT brands – PUNKS Comic, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and gmoney.
As with many fashion brands, the NFTs themselves are exclusive pieces of digital apparel for use on blockchain-based gaming platforms.
It’s all part of Adidas’ efforts to leverage the NFT marketplace and the metaverse to promote themes of individuality and self-expression that the brand promotes in its real world marketing.
Coca-Cola was one of the first beverage brands to see the potential of the metaverse as a way of connecting with young people who love tech.
For example, to celebrate the Special Olympics in 2021, it dropped its first major NFT campaign built around the idea of “loot boxes”. These were virtual goodie bags each containing a range of one-off NFT assets, from a branded puffer jacket to a sound visualizer that captures the experience of sharing a Coke, and a friendship card inspired by the brand’s famous 1940s trading cards.
All the examples above are aimed at consumers, but there’s a whole other business-to-business side to this tech, especially crypto.
Take Walmart, who as well as being one of the world’s largest supermarkets is also a leader in supply chain management.
It’s using blockchain to create an automated process for handling invoices and payments for its 70+ third-party freight carriers, revamping and unifying its data management processes while improving food traceability.
The ecommerce giant is offering blockchain tools to companies that don’t want to build their own.
For example, in Australia Nestlé recently took advantage of this Amazon service to launch a new coffee brand, “Chain of Origin”, enabling consumers to look inside the coffee’s real-world supply chain by scanning a QR code to see which farm grew the beans and where they were roasted.
Other Amazon blockchain clients include Sony Music, BMW and Accenture, who’re using this tech to combat issues like counterfeit goods, compliance violations, delays, and waste.
It’s fair to say many consumers are confused about these forms of tech – only 22% of consumers can correctly define an NFT. Forward-thinking brands can win their affection and approval by positioning themselves as explainers, showing audiences what’s possible and generally demystifying what can be a complex area. The place to start is with our Making Virtual a Reality digital report. Step inside today and get a sneak peak of the future, no crystal ball required.