From Nikeland to Gucci Town: the top 5 branded Roblox activations
A growing number of brands have turned to Roblox as a gateway into the metaverse. Here are five recent activations that stand out.
Roblox was estimated to have over 52m daily active users in mid-2022 / Adobe Stock
When most people think about the metaverse, they typically think about virtual reality (VR) – strapping a bulky headset over one’s eyes and fully immersing themselves in a 3D virtual world. But this is primarily a byproduct of popular works of science fiction, pulled from the likes of Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
One day, the metaverse could be an experience that’s accessible primarily through VR headsets. But for the time being, this technology is pretty clunky, crude and prohibitively expensive for the average person. That’s not to say that the metaverse is purely speculation; it exists, albeit in a pretty nascent form – and its most popular point of entry is through gaming.
For the sake of simplicity, we can define ‘the metaverse’ as a virtual world where users can interact with one another, exchange commodities and maintain some continuity of identity as they move through time and across different experiences. With that working definition in mind, there are few metaverse-based worlds that are more popular than Roblox.
Designed primarily for young children, Roblox is an online gaming platform that enables users to design their own experiences. Given its huge audience – estimated at more than 52m daily active users as of mid-2022 – it’s also become a major area of investment for brands across industries.
Here are The Drum’s five favorite branded Roblox activations...
5. McCain Foods’ Farms of the Future
Just two weeks ago, Canadian frozen food company McCain Foods – which claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products – launched an activation on Roblox aimed at educating young people about the benefits of regenerative agricultural practices.
‘Farms of the Future,’ as the activation is called, is notable for its demonstration of the fact that brands can leverage gaming and virtual worlds not only for engaging with and marketing among a younger audience, but also for educating that audience and promoting a valuable message; the message in this case being that sustainable agriculture is a feasible alternative to industrial farming practices.
4. Samsung Superstar Galaxy
Samsung well and truly got into the physics-defying spirit of the metaverse in June when it unveiled the ‘Samsung Superstar Galaxy’ in Roblox. The experience took place in a virtual “futuristic space station,” and was centered on a performance by pop icon Charli XCX (or rather, her avatar).
3. Gucci Town
Luxury fashion label Gucci made headlines after it sold a virtual handbag on Roblox at a higher price than the bag’s IRL counterpart. This past spring, the brand extended its footprint in the metaverse with the launch of ‘Gucci Town,’ an experience on Roblox modeled on Vault, Gucci’s concept store.
Unlike its previous Roblox activations – such as the two-week ‘Gucci Garden Archetypes’ – ‘Gucci Town’ has an ongoing presence on the gaming platform.
2. Chipotle Boorito Maze
The Covid-19 pandemic forced Chipotle Mexican Grill to put a pin in its long-running Halloween tradition of handing out free burritos to customers who came into one of its restaurants wearing a costume. Undeterred, the brand opened a virtual location in Roblox dubbed the Chipotle Boorito Maze. The activation was a (graveyard) smash: on October 31 2021, Chipotle was the 10th most-searched-for term on Google, per Chipotle. The launch also sparked the highest one-day period of app downloads and digital transactions in the company’s history.
All of that success was enjoyed in spite of the fact that Roblox’s servers crashed shortly after the Chipotle experience launched; they would remain down for most of the weekend. (Roblox tweeted that the “outage was not related to any specific experiences or partnerships on the platform.”) Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, would recall more than a year later: “We certainly made lemonade out of lemons on that occasion.”
Since launching Nikeland – a virtual experience based in Roblox – in November 2021, sports apparel giant Nike has come to be widely perceived as a powerhouse and a tastemaker in the burgeoning metaverse. Visitors can play games, socialize or try on the latest Nike gear in a virtual showroom.
Today, Nikeland has been visited well over 25m times, according to data from Roblox. Nike’s enormous success in Roblox has demonstrated unequivocally that huge numbers of people are willing to spend time in branded, virtual experiences, provided those experiences are dynamic, engaging and fun – not just empty marketing schemes.
Shortly after creating Nikeland, the brand purchased RTFKT, an NFT studio that specializes in virtual footwear.
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