This Week in the Metaverse: Tinder hooks up with web3, Meta’s ‘Zuck Bucks’ & Chipotle’s burrito challenge
Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing – and for almost everything else – or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
Evian has partnered with ‘sparkling artist’ Sara Shakeel for the brand’s first NFT launch
Adidas makes new moves in the metaverse with personality-based, interoperable avatars
Adidas is launching a new platform that will enable fans to develop customized avatars that will have “interoperability” – in other words, they will be able to enter and explore “over 1,500 different metaverse apps and games,” according to a statement from the company. The new platform, created in collaboration with agency Jam3, will also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to tailor each avatar to the individual personality quirks of their creators.
Launched in celebration of the brand’s upcoming Ozworld collection (a revival of a shoe that originally dropped in the 90s), the ‘digital Ozworld experience’ is being developed in partnership with Ready Player Me, a popular avatar creation platform. Whereas Ready Player Me normally generates avatars based on users’ physical appearances, Adidas says that its new platform will create avatars based instead on personality. “Whether IRL or URL, the Ozworld collection boldly represents a platform for style experimentation and a rallying call for the pursuit of personal expression,” Adidas said in a statement.
Adidas has become something of a virtual tastemaker in recent months, pushing boundaries as the metaverse continues to become increasingly relevant to marketers. In December of last year, for example, the company made headlines when it dropped its first NFT collection with Bored Ape Yacht Club, arguably the world’s most recognizable NFT series. Its new Ozworld avatar creation platform is, according to Adidas, its latest step in its ongoing mission “to create a truly open and optimistic metaverse for all.” The new platform will be launched tomorrow.
Rumors of ‘Zuck Bucks’ begin to swirl
In February, Meta (previously Facebook) made waves in the press – and caused many people to cringe – when it announced that it would begin calling its employees ‘Metamates.’ Now the company appears to be taking the branding of its internal ecosystem a step further with plans to unveil a virtual currency that some are reportedly referring to as ‘Zuck Bucks,’ a name derived from that of the company’s founder and chief exec Mark Zuckerberg. The new currency allegedly will not be a cryptocurrency, according to The Verge. Rather, it could take the form of “in-app tokens that would be centrally controlled by the company,” analogous to Robux, the virtual currency collected within and controlled by Roblox.
Meta has yet to make any formal statements confirming or denying the report, which was initially published in The Financial Times. If they do materialize, so-called Zuck Bucks could potentially help to solidify an autonomous virtual brand experience for Meta – one that’s less beholden to other financial regulation entities.
Chipotle serves up virtual burritos in Roblox
Virtual burritos, anyone? In celebration of National Burrito Day (April 7) – yep, that’s a thing – Chipotle expanded its presence in the metaverse by challenging fans to roll virtual burritos for a chance to earn burritos right here in the ‘meatspace’ (a nickname for the ‘real world,’ which has never felt more apt). The brand’s new ‘Chipotle Burrito Builder,’ which is being hosted on Roblox, was “inspired by Chipotle fans on social media who have compared the complexities of rolling burritos to playing a video game,” the brand said in a statement.
Chipotle’s new virtual experience taps into the popular ‘play-to-earn’ model, which has been built into many games in the metaverse, wherein users complete gamified tasks typically to earn crypto – but in this case, they’ll be earning burritos. “We’ve tapped into play-to-earn, an emerging engagement model in the metaverse, to launch our newest experience on Roblox that celebrates the iconic Chipotle burrito,” Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketer, said in a statement. “We’re blending the metaverse and real-world elements of our brand to take the Chipotle fan experience to a whole new level.”
This is Chipotle’s second activation in Roblox, following the ‘Boorito Maze,’ which was launched in October 2021. The new Chipotle Burrito Builder also seems to be tapping into some 90s nostalgia – a popular marketing strategy at the moment – by recreating the look of its flagship store in Denver, Colorado, as it appeared when it first opened its doors in 1993.
Tinder flirts with web3 and makes a move with NFTs
Popular dating app Tinder has launched its first web3 campaign in partnership with VaynerNFT. In an effort to tap into the huge popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and promote itself as a brand not only with its finger on the cultural pulse but with its heart set on female empowerment, Tinder took to Twitter earlier this week to ask its followers: “Which female artists and creators should we be following in the NFT space?”
Tinder then used the resulting dialogue to host a conversation via ONE37pm designed to provide a supportive and constructive space where female creatives and athletes could discuss their various perspectives on art, sports and web3. That panel featured digital artists Sara Baumann and Julie Pacino, as well as Kaila Novak, a UCLA soccer player and social media star. As a memento, Tinder gave attendees proof-of-attendance protocol (POAP) NFTs that were designed by Baumann and Novak.
“This activation ... demonstrates Tinder’s commitment to their long-term vision in web3 and their ability to continue to provide true value to their customers,” VaynerNFT said in a statement.
Evian hopes to dazzle young artists with its inaugural NFTs
Bottled water brand Evian has partnered with ‘sparkling artist’ Sara Shakeel for a new NFT launch, marking the brand’s maiden voyage into the world of web3. Shakeel, known for her artwork that incorporates glitter and Swarovski crystals, has created new NFT artwork for Evian designed to celebrate and invoke “the iconic heritage of Evian water from the glacial rocks in the French Alps,” according to a statement from Evian. The campaign was launched in celebration of the brand’s release of Evian Sparkling water, which hit shelves earlier this year.
“Sara’s digital reimagination of our Evian mountains beautifully captures and encapsulates the essence of this, also bringing the sparkles of our new Evian Sparkling water to life,” Lucille Moreau, Evian’s culture and experience director, said in a statement. “We are so thrilled to be taking this leap into the digital art world with our first NFT, enabling our Evian community to interact with and enjoy the brand in a new and exciting way.”
The brand has also seized the opportunity to position itself as one of the more environmentally-conscious bottled water brands by partnering with blockchain company Tezos, which describes itself as “an energy-efficient alternative to more traditional Proof of Work blockchains.” 100% of the proceeds from the new NFT launch will go towards the Somerset House Young Talent fund, which is geared towards supporting young artists.
Meta cancels 2022 developers conference so that it can focus on building the metaverse
Meta has canceled its 2022 developers conference in order to prioritize its energies and attention on building the metaverse. This is the second time in three years that the company – which changed its name from Facebook Inc to Meta Platforms Inc in October of last year to underscore its commitment to being the primary architect of the metaverse – has canceled the annual event.
‘F8,’ as the conference is colloquially known, was scrapped in 2020 due to the pandemic; it was hosted virtually last year. Normally the conference is hosted by and exclusively geared for Meta, an annual opportunity for the social media and consumer electronics Goliath to showcase its latest innovations to the rest of the tech world.
“[We] are taking a brief break in programming and will not hold F8 in 2022 while we gear up on new initiatives that are all tailored towards the next chapter of the internet, and the next chapter of our company too: building the metaverse,” the company stated in a blog post published Wednesday.