Welcome to the metaverse of ad agencies
How ad agencies are launching into the metaverse
11 May 2022
The hype around the next iteration of the internet is reaching fever pitch. As a buzzword, the metaverse is right up there in terms of successful marketing launches – it’s already dominating countless headlines and column inches, has more than 500 apps using the word and it’s not even fully formed yet.
But undeniably, technological advances in the fields of AI, AR and VR coupled with a soaring global audience for online gaming platforms such as Roblox have left brands eager to explore, test and learn. At CES 2022, Samsung created a world inside blockchain-powered Decentraland, which included a preview from the brand’s keynote, plus access to live music events and NFT badges for visitors.
Brands aren’t the only ones eager to establish a virtual foothold – agencies have been swift to bag a plot of virtual land with Virtue Futures, Vice Media Group’s creative agency, choosing Decentraland for their ‘Viceverse’ office and Havas Group opting for a plot on The Sandbox for their first Virtual Village.
In February, VCCP opened an office on Roblox, the gaming and social platform. The office, set across five virtual floors, is a reimagining of VCCP’s network and inspired by its London Victoria office. It pays homage to VCCP clients and staff:
And while some agencies are dabbling in NFTs, others are keener to help brands explore what is already at the fingertips of billions of consumers around the globe – the gaming multiverse. Creative Salon spoke to agency leaders about their views on metaverse experiences, virtual worlds and the ever-evolving landscape of gaming.
Matt Henry, innovation lead, AMV BBDO
At AMV BBDO, we are testing and learning with metaverse experiences in Decentraland and pioneering the use of NFTs for good across multiple initiatives. AMV already occupies space in Decentraland. Staking claim to a 2x2 plot which will provide a home for a number of our clients and employees to express their curiosity. At the same time, we are championing inclusive experiences, such as creating the world’s first ever marathon in Decentraland for global Unilever brand Degree [Sure in the UK] (see below). We’re also creating capabilities around NFTs too, seeing that as a great way for brands to utilise some of the brilliant, long-term benefits that the decentralised web can offer them.
Emma Chiu, global director, Wunderman Thompson
The metaverse is a multi-faceted digital frontier and the best way to understand what to do in this space is by seeing and experiencing it. At Wunderman Thompson hot off the heels of our “Into the Metaverse” report we created the WT Metaverse virtual world which launched at CES 2022. Here we invited staff, clients and the general public to join us on a tour of the virtual space as well as spending time building their own avatars. Visitors can change outfits in the retail room, play a game to unlock a prize, and listen in on a metaverse presentation on the top floor. It’s been a fantastic vehicle to guide clients through as it gives them a better understanding of how they can create a similar bespoke branded virtual world.
Right now, we are working with a number of clients on helping them strategise and build for the metaverse. From buying digital land to considering Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and working on privacy and safety in the metaverse. There’s a lot of consideration, strategy and creation involved. As we know, the metaverse is no longer a sci-fi concept, it has already arrived and Wunderman Thompson are working closely with our clients on creating the right long-term metaverse path for those interested.
Fabien Aufrechter, head of Havas Blockchain
At Havas Group, we’ve believed in Blockchain and the token economy, with a dedicated offering, Havas Blockchain, launched in 2017, from day one - so investing the metaverse was a must. We did it because we consider it a good way to invest in Web 3.0 (i.e. a more decentralized internet). The space we bought in the metaverse is an NFT (a digital value which is unique),and storing this securely (in a wallet) required an expertise we had developed step-by-step. Then, developing our office – the ‘69th Havas Village’ – on the land we had bought required just one thing: creativity. Thankfully, this is our day job. Launching activities in the metaverse allows us to rethink our businesses and processes, while in terms of HR, business and client relations, advertising and creativity, the metaverse is a new world that needs to be created and invested in.
Sashi Nair, head of strategy, VCCP+
It’s been 7 months. 188 days of collective hysteria with the already-failing Metaverse. We’re witnessing a rat race to see who can be the loudest and most hyped about this supposed revolution. The obsession with this pipe dream is blinding brands and marketers from the single largest unmet audience opportunity in modern marketing.
Gaming today is a 3.2 billion person-strong medium. It is a complex, thriving multiverse of distinct and diverse platforms and games, personalities, media and cultures. And with 90% of Gen Z identifying as gamers, tomorrow’s marketing calls for proper gaming strategies with always-on plans, to tap into and engage this demographic authentically.
Unlike other forms of communications, the gaming multiverse presents an unprecedented challenge with its infinite points of entry. And having a one-size-fits-all approach just will not work.
VCCP+ was created to address this very challenge and unlock informed opportunities. We’re on a mission to arm brands and marketers with the right insights on where to play, and most importantly how to win in gaming.
Leveraging data and our nuanced understanding of the space, we turn this seemingly complex landscape into simple, actionable strategies and ideas that are authentic, unique and commercially valuable for brands.
Ed Palmer, managing director, St Luke’s
The immersive and often disorientating nature of many metaverse platforms will require brands to work hard to create immersive and highly distinctive experiences. Rather than dive deep into any one metaverse, we’re exploring the principles and techniques that brands can exploit across a number of platforms.
A good example of this is looking at how brands can use augmented reality, a key feature of many platforms, and an increasingly popular way for brands to interact with their audiences. Since 2020, our creative partner Jules Vizard has become a recognised authority in augmented reality and filter making, having spearheaded a number of projects for events, pop promos and brands. We’ve created filters for KP Snacks, as well as an augmented reality outdoor installation for Beavertown beer. More recently, he created a filter for the band ‘Easy Life’, so that fans could immerse themselves in the album artwork, via their phones, from outdoor sites across the UK. And one of his recent filters has generated over 8 million views on TikTok.
Frances Draskau, creative director, The&Partnership
Only until a few months ago, industry headlines read, ‘Should agencies care about the metaverse?’ and here we are, caring and sharing at lightning speed.
What I’m enjoying about this exploration is the cross-agency community we’re seeing come together, from Discord to LinkedIn, to learn and make things our audiences will use and benefit from.
There’s a buzz around web3 ideation. It feels like creativity, strategy and CRM have become a Wild West of possibility again and although it requires thoughtful planning in partnership with our clients, we’re united on exploring the opportunities in this space together.
The perspective has shifted from, ‘should we?’ to ‘how do we care about the metaverse?’ and I think this approach is where the The&Partnership comes into its own.
Currently, the key while ideating for our clients is how their audience access web3. UX and UI development is integral to our process. For example, if you ask someone how Bluetooth works, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you, yet they use AirDrop all the time. That’s how web3 should feel when you get it right. This might be as simple as loyalty card functionality, the same as swiping your Costa Club Card, or it might be the cross-platform roadmap created for a single NFT drop to gain traction and build value after release.
These nuances demonstrate the benefit of an integrated agency structure when moving into web3. Working briefs with our partner media agency, mSix&Partners, we can get to the strongest creative territories and ideas and leverage them for our clients to maximum effect. It is a new world, but that’s nothing new to those who have always innovated.