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Media Brand Strategy Metaverse

Stop trying to make the metaverse happen, the real revolution is in gaming

By Ross Crump | Chief strategy officer

Kairos Group

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The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 30, 2023 | 8 min read

For The Drum’s deep dive into AI, web3 and emerging tech, Ross Crump of Kairos Group says that we need to relax on the ‘metaverse’ talk and look instead to a real channel delivering on the hype: gaming.

An assortment of vintage gaming memorabilia and consoles

Does gaming already yield all the fruits that the metaverse promises in the future? / Lorenzo Herrera via Unsplash

Thank god people are starting to realize that the ‘metaverse’ was nothing more than a marketing campaign that got a little too much traction. Like the Fyre Festival of 2017, the metaverse was all talk no substance. The term remains the hottest topic in the world of marketing, thrown around boardrooms and trade shows in abundance, but it needs to switch off, rethink and reappear when it has something to bring to the table.

What we talk about when we talk about the metaverse

What’s everyone talking about when they say metaverse? Depending on who you ask, you could get any number of answers. Because it’s not real.

It's a concept; an idea; a lofty vision of the future internet that now has investors asking what the point is.

Marketers have fallen for the hype. Facebook rebranded to Meta (a bit on the nose if you ask me) and suddenly everyone was on the bandwagon, drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid for something that has proven not to be tangible or effective.

What about all the brands that have ‘entered the metaverse’? If you Google the top metaverse activations, you’ll see Nike, Hyundai, and Coca-Cola all identified as having ‘entered the metaverse.’ Whether knowingly or not, what these brands have actually done is to connect and interact with audiences within gaming in titles like Roblox, Minecraft or Fortnite.

Those who activate within dedicated ‘metaverse’ platforms like Decentraland are left scratching their heads wondering why they aren’t getting the results they expected. Well, it's because marketers failed to read the room. The metaverse hasn’t captured the imagination of consumers, because no one asked for it.

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A surplus revolution

Virtual worlds where people go to explore, express themselves, socialize and play already exist. In videogames. These spaces have been around for years (remember PlayStation Home?). Technology has improved, but the concept has remained the same. Communities have built passionate, engaged and receptive communities around their common interest since well before the obsession with the metaverse began.

And yet. People who have a limited understanding of gaming and its potential have found a way of saying “we’re doing something different! We’re launching the metaverse!” In fact, they’re executing a very poor iteration of what gaming has been doing for years.

Gamers are happy interacting with each other in games and communicating either within them or via social platforms such as Discord. Those who don’t want the gaming experience but want an enhanced social experience are still getting their fix through the emergence of TikTok and the focus on shareability from this generation of social platforms.

In the words of Happy Mask Salesman in the videogame Majora’s Mask: metaverse, “You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”

Connection, consistency and community

So we’ve established that the metaverse isn’t real. Let’s talk instead about a brand that is getting traction in gaming and has the receipts to prove it: Gillette.

Fortnite is a key component of Gillette’s gaming strategy, chosen for the game’s reach across age demographics, its pop-culture relevance and its variety of game modes. With over 400 million registered players, Fortnite has a strong worldwide community, playing, socializing and expressing themselves within the game.

Brands can also benefit from continued collaborations between Fortnite and other brands like Ralph Lauren, who drive new cultural relevance for the title (and, in turn, eyeballs). It’s a continuously evolving ecosystem that benefits any brand that encounters it.

Gillette’s long-running program, the Gillette Gaming Alliance (GAA), sees it partner each year with popular Fortnite streamers from across key territories who align with their values of ‘positive masculinity’. It builds custom maps and in-game branded experiences for fans and streamers to explore, brought to life through content across channels. These maps see 100,000s of unique players and millions of content views from Gillette’s core audience.

This gave the brand a platform to launch further community-led gaming integrations, including the ‘Gillette Labs Flow Challenge'. Tasking the UK Fortnite community with uploading their ‘smoothest’ Fortnite moments, the two with the most engagement won the chance to play with Fornite Megastars Vikkstar and Macmacs at a live competition in London. From challenges and interviews to set design, the brand was integrated across the content, generating millions of views and positioning Gillette Labs as the must-have grooming product for gamers.

What makes Gillette so successful activating in the world’s most played game? Connection, consistency and community. Building spaces for the community to connect with their favorite streamers in-game provides the perfect environment for the audience to be receptive to the brand messaging.

Beyond just creating a branded in-game experience, Gillette supports this with content that integrates brand messaging and product showcasing, from ambassadors the audience trusts, in a fun and engaging way. The product becomes part of the experience and creates brand affinity for Gillette.

This is a good example of how a brand can build effective gaming partnerships that yield the goods. The key is understanding the audience, integration and supporting the partnership in channels native to gamers like Twitch.

So, if you’ve structured your budget around ‘the metaverse’, my advice is to pivot (faster than Meta did to video) to spaces with tangible results, ROI and pre-existing audiences – like gaming.

For more hot takes and cold hard looks at the emerging tech landscape, check out The Drum’s deep dive on AI to web3.
Media Brand Strategy Metaverse

Content by The Drum Network member:

Kairos Group

Led by experts with more than 100+ years of gaming and media industry knowledge, Kairos Group comprises multiple entities including Kairos Media, Kyma Media and Horizon Union.

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