Stella Artois takes a punt on virtual horse racing as esports metaverse craze takes hold

Beer brand Stella Artois has joined a growing craze among celebrities and athletes for virtual horse racing by auctioning off fifty rare horses to coincide with the start of the summer season.

Teaming up with Zed Run, the brand is offering proud owners of the digital ‘thoroughbreds’ the chance to collect, trade, race and even breed their mares within the blockchain-powered digital horse-racing game.

Prize steeds within the esports world can now be traded for over £100k ($141), with wealthy individuals able to purchase so-called ‘non-fungible tokens’ (NFT), harnessing the Ethereum Blockchain to translate their virtual performances into real-world winnings.

In addition to equipping players with the horsepower needed to cross the finish line, Stella Artois will also build a branded 3D racetrack for players to enjoy a day at the races without the need to leave the ‘Racing In The Life Artois’ metaverse of shared virtual experiences.

Lindsey McInerney, global head of technology and innovation at AB InBev, said: “As one of the biggest sponsors of premium sporting events, Stella Artois has partnered with leading digital horse-racing platform Zed Run to offer an online equivalent to esports fans.

“With our virtual experiment, ‘Racing In The Life Artois’, we’re bringing the art and elegance of Stella Artois and its ‘The Life Artois’ platform to a new audience, offering players the chance to buy, race and breed their very own NFT thoroughbreds in a ‘metaverse’ that replicates the real world of championship horse racing.”

The brand’s first foray into virtual horse racing follows a recent Stella Tips campaign when it first dipped its toes into NFT waters to generate funds for the Licensed Trade Charity, fresh from more traditional sponsorship initiatives such as the creation of an on-site artist studio at the Australian Open.