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WPP’s Metaverse Foundry’s creative exec on putting up a billboard in the metaverse: ‘are you high?’

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

March 8, 2022 | 6 min read

Embracing decentralization is key for clients and WPP as Hogarth Worldwide’s Metaverse Foundry kicks into gear. Here’s how it plans to help clients and consumers find their way and succeed in the Wild West of the metaverse.

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The Metaverse Foundry is open for business / Adobe Stock

The Metaverse Foundry is now open for business.

Part of WPP’s Hogarth Worldwide, this global network of roughly 700 creatives and specialists has a single goal: to help clients launch successful campaigns in the metaverse. But what exactly does it look like inside of the Foundry, and how does it guide clients during this pivotal moment of the web3 movement?

The Foundry aims to serve as a guide for clients who are setting up shop in the metaverse for the first time, while simultaneously connecting them with the resources and experts that can help them to establish and maintain a successful virtual enterprise. No small task, when you consider how alien the metaverse is compared to the traditional advertising domains of TV, print and websites.

Novelty, however, is the mother of opportunity. The metaverse may be strange – unbound, as it is, by the laws of physics – but this is precisely why it’s so conducive to innovation. Mehta Mehta, global executive creative director at Hogarth Worldwide, is emphatic on this point: “The last thing I want is clients going, ‘can we put a billboard up?’ Are you high? No, no, we’re not doing that. ‘Can I make a virtual store?’ Why are we making physical stores that look exactly the same as they do in the real world, in a place that has no rules? It has no gravity, it has no physics in that way. So why would you not just change the experience?” Vast new horizons are opening up before us, so let’s not constrain ourselves to the edicts of the past: this is one of the new, potentially transformative modes of thought that Mehta and the rest of his colleagues at the Metaverse Foundry are hoping to inject into brainstorming sessions with clients.

WPP currently has metaverse projects under way for many of its clients, including Bombay Sapphire, Duracell, Pfizer, Pizza Hut, Under Armour and Wendy’s.

Embracing the three Cs: creativity, community and commerce

The Foundry was designed with cooperation and co-ownership in mind. At the outset, Mehta and his colleagues asked themselves: “How can we give full metaverse capabilities to every WPP client and every WPP agency? That automatically just turbocharges everything, because then you’ve got the hive mentality thinking from all these different agencies, [and] then you’ve got the capabilities coming through Hogarth ... of actually producing these things for the metaverse.”

The Foundry, like the metaverse, was also constructed around the ethos of decentralization. Knowing no two metaverse entry strategies are exactly alike, the Foundry tailors each campaign to the unique goals, needs and audience members of the brand that’s behind it.

The Foundry’s services will also revolve around what Mehta considers to be the three fundamental components of the metaverse: creativity, community and commerce. Each of those are intertwined to some degree, and strategies must be designed with an understanding of how one will influence the others. How, for example, will the community engage with the creative content? How will that engagement lead to actual profit?

There’s also the issue of what Mehta calls “mass adoption”: how can brands communicate these still somewhat esoteric subjects to their audiences, most of whom are still likely to be naive to the subtleties of web3? As Mehta puts it: “Not everyone has a degree in technology. How do you bring them into the metaverse, [and] how do you nurture them once they’re there?”

One of the key solutions to those problems, Mehta says, is language. Virtual campaigns must be launched alongside communication strategies that are clear, concise and consistent. This is another hurdle that the Foundry and its multitude of partners can help clients to overcome during a flagship mission into the metaverse.

That communication should also be aligned with the ideals of the broader web3 movement, which, along with decentralization, is also rooted in transparency and trust. Brands must therefore be willing to relinquish some degree of control over their virtual campaigns. “It’s tough for some companies, because they’re not used to people talking back, they just put it out there. And this is not that space,” says Mehta. “It’s almost like you’re going into their house – you better act correctly, because there are rules here.”

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