Brands from Ferrari to Nike rush to a metaverse future

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NEW YORK (AFP) – The internet’s metaverse vision is far from reality, but brands from Ferrari to Nike are already rushing to experiment and build an audience, in part out of fear of missing out.

The clamor over virtual goods comes amid feverish predictions that the metaverse – a virtual reality version of the internet – will eventually replace today’s web.

But some virtual worlds, for example the Fortnite and Minecraft games or the Roblox platform, are already open for business.

“I think a lot of it is experimentation,” said Mr. Ryan Mullins, founder of the virtual sneaker app Aglet.

“If it turns out that we make a few thousand dollars or something like that… great, but I think a lot (of companies) think ‘innovate, disrupt or die'”, he added, echoing a philosophy of Silicon Valley. sometimes brutal development.

Fashion has been at the forefront, with a digital clothing line from Uniqlo on Minecraft or Balenciaga outfits and sneakers available on Fortnite.

Designers are also entering the new realm of NFTs – non-fungible tokens that are unique digital objects such as drawings or animations.

“This represents a huge opportunity for brands, who will enter early and be able to build a persistent presence … on a truly global scale,” said Ms. Christina Wootton, vice president of partnerships at Roblox.

Welcome to Nikeland

During the Halloween holiday, Mexican fast food chain Chipotle opened a virtual, pop-up restaurant on Roblox, the first of its kind.

The brand offered coupons to get a free burrito in a real restaurant, but also virtual costumes to dress up your avatar and a treasure hunt.

In July, Ferrari launched a replica of its new 296 GTB model with Fortnite, which won’t be available in the real world until 2022 but could be raced in-game.

Nike had previously opened “Nikeland”, a virtual showroom on Roblox, and announced on December 13 that it had purchased digital sneaker company RTFKT – pronounced “artefact.” For businesses that exist primarily in the physical world, the concept of the metaverse is first and foremost a giant laboratory with direct pathways to the young population sought after by advertisers.

“The revenue will come in if this thing persists, but we want to make sure that our brand is in these early environments,” Mr. Mullins from Aglet said.

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