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How Clarks made a big noise on its return to the metaverse

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By The Drum, Editorial

November 30, 2023 | 8 min read

Clarks on how it made a big noise on its return to the Metaverse which picked up the Digital Industries Awards for Metaverse Activation at The Drum Awards Festival. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning digital work

On 25th May 2023, Clarks returned to the metaverse for an all-new, out-of-this-world adventure with the launch of PLAYPRINTS World on Roblox. The activation was part of a wider, full funnel campaign launch to drive equity for Clarks' fun-fuelled PLAYPRINTS shoe collection for Kids.

OBJECTIVES

The campaign's primary objective was:

To target and attract kids aged by engaging them in relevant spaces, using the PLAYPRINTS franchise and Roblox platform as a vehicle for this.

Our success measures for this objective were all based around reach & engagement with the below 12 audience, with key KPIs being:

Total game plays vs last year's CICAVERSE (the first game we launched on Roblox in 2022)

Total playtime in game vs average

Like rating/positive sentiment vs last year's CICAVERSE

PR and media reach, engagements and impressions vs last year's CICAVERSE

The campaign's secondary objective was:

To convert and reassure parents they're in safe hands with Clarks Our success measures were all based around PLAYPRINTS product sell-through during the campaign period through parent-driven purchases, with key KPIs being:

Sales uplift during the campaign period vs average

Conversion through marketing materials

Parents brand awareness peak during the campaign period

STRATEGY + ROLL-OUT

To enable us to meet our campaign objectives, we built a full funnel strategy that targeted both Kids and Parents, with activation plans bespoke to both target audiences. For Kids, we focused on YouTube Kids as our key Paid media channel. Here, we created a new storytelling hub for both the world and characters that surrounded the PLAYPRINTS game. The intention was to effectively build Kids' Brand Awareness for PLAYPRINTS, whilst compelling them to then play the game in Roblox with strong CTAs. Once kids entered the game, they would be transported to an enchanted fantasy world where the PLAYPRINTS shoes were central to their quests - encouraging Brand Awareness and Equity through a platform where Kids are fully engaged.

For Parents, we focused on an innovative influencer strategy to drive Brand Awareness for the PLAYPRINTS product franchise and supporting game, as well as to encourage conversion. Through our owned Retail Ecomm channels, we created in-store and online game promotions to link both our physical and virtual worlds together and incentivise Parent-driven footfall/traffic. See the below for a more detailed breakdown of each channel activation:

THE GAME

Stepping inside the fantastical PLAYPRINTS World on Roblox, kids can unlock magical missions in mystical lands. With the help of super-powered virtual PLAYPRINTS sneakers and our epic heroes Rex, Esme, Clowder and Maple, they'll be all set to solve the coolest puzzles and ace every level. Explore the PLAYPRINTS heroes' mystical homelands - the Forgotten Forest, Sandy Flats, Magic Falls and Shimmer Lagoon - solving their puzzles to complete the game. Kids can also visit the Crystal Cave virtual store to gear up their gaming, transform their avatar and play their way. The only limit? Their imagination!

The game was developed by premier metaverse studio MELON, acquired in May 2023 by Super League Gaming. The Clarks Marketing and Creative team worked incredibly closely with Melon on every detail of the game, to ensure it aligned visually with the marketing materials that had been created with a separate animation studio, Blue Zoo.

THE YOUTUBE KIDS CONTENT SERIES & SUPPORTING MARKETING MATERIALS

A storytelling YouTube Kids content series was created to immerse Kids further in the fantastical world of PLAYPRINTS. Here, the Clarks Marketing and Creative team partnered with Blue Zoo - a BAFTA award-winning London animation studio. Together, the team created an incredible line-up of PLAYPRINTS heroes and 'homelands' for each, which formed the central creative for our marketing assets, YouTube content series, and the look and feel of the game itself. The heroes were inspired by the mark-making soles of Clarks' PLAYPRINTS shoe collection, which each featured distinct character prints; Esme the Sea Alicorn, Clowder the Cheetah, Maple the Woodland Fairy and Rex the Dinosaur. The characters were then brought to life as NPCs in the game. The YouTube content series included a 'Tease' film, which revealed the Origin Story of the PLAYPRINTS heroes, as well as the main campaign 'Launch' film - which unveiled the mission the PLAYPRINTS heroes would need to complete in the game in order to restore harmony to the fictional 'PLAYPRINTS Kingdom'. The aim here was to drive rich storytelling, to really engage kids in the PLAYPRINTS world.

PR - INFLUENCER PROGRAMME

To promote the launch of the game, Clarks partnered with Bayy - a female-led marketing and production agency - to create a one-of-a-kind, innovative experience for a select group of UK influencer families. Here, PLAYPRINTS hero Clowder was created as a real-life mascot, arriving at the families' houses in a PLAYPRINTS branded gaming truck. He gifted the kids a custom Clarks suitcase filled with interactive goodies linking to the game, including the latest PLAYPRINTS shoes. Inside the gaming truck, families found themselves immersed in the world of PLAYPRINTS - and had the chance to get competitive and test out their skills in PLAYPRINTS World on Roblox, playing against Clowder himself. Combining both gameplay and product focus, this approach was hugely successful for us - allowing us to hit our KPIs as well as create a memorable, content-worthy experience which we pushed via Clarks' social channels.

COMMERCIAL - OWNED CHANNEL APPROACH ECOMM

The Clarks owned PLAYPRINTS ecomm suite included both a tease and a launch content page, email rollout and product page optimisation, as well as a 24-hour full homepage takeover to maximise cutthrough. Every asset focused on strong CTAs to 'play the game' and 'shop the product', which helped to drive our original campaign objective. RETAIL The PLAYPRINTS Retail takeover created effective storytelling of the campaign and footfall driving incentives, including a unique opportunity to redeem free Roblox verch inside Clarks stores. QR codes driving shoppers to 'play the game' were included in multiple touchpoints.

RESULTS (All measured from 1 month after go-live)

GAME

PLAYPRINTS World on Roblox has seen 3.8 MILLION+ game plays so far, which was +45% higher than last year's CICAVERSE - a strong indication of reach success in line with the campaign's original objectives.

48% of its player base is UNDER 13s, showing the game is effectively connecting with our target 5-12 audience.

21.8 MINUTES average playtime in-game - a huge +70% higher than the average branded experience on Roblox and last year's CICAVERSE, and a direct marker of Brand Equity and Engagement

70% Like/Sentiment rating - +70% higher than the average branded experience on Roblox and last year's CICAVERSE

YOUTUBE KIDS/PAID MEDIA

16.7 MILLION impressions across our media programme (primarily YouTube Kids), PR and Social - a strong marker of reach and engagement within our target Kids audience

PR / INFLUENCERS

2.2+ MILLION impressions + 436,212 reach garnered from our influencer 'gaming truck' activity - +9% higher than last year's CICAVERSE

COMMERCIAL

23% UPLIFT in PLAYPRINTS lead campaign product sales during the campaign period

49% UPLIFT in lead campaign style Aquatic Brill Purple Interest during the campaign period

28% UPLIFT in the PLAYPRINTS School collection category during the campaign period

BRAND

Ad awareness peak for UK parents with children in their household during the campaign period - suggesting PLAYPRINTS reach and engagement success, and achievement of the campaign's original objectives.

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