This Week in the Metaverse (W49.2022)
The Big Read - Branded avatars are on the rise; Latest on Into The Metaverse Podcast; Other News from Around the Metaverse
Welcome to Letters - commentary, analysis and ideas from Into The Metaverse.
The Big Read - Branded avatars are on the rise
Latest on Into The Metaverse Podcast
Other News from Around the Metaverse
Let’s dig in!
(1) The Big Read: Branded avatars are on the rise
Nars Cosmetic, the prestige beauty brand, created three new virtual avatars, inspired by lipstick shades, to be its new digital spokespeople. As reported by Vogue Business, the new ambassadors - Maxine, Chelsea and Sissi (called the Power Players), all have distinct looks, personalities, and backstories, and they are fully virtual. Developed on Epic Games’s Unreal Engine 5, each character possesses a future-facing career, such as digital artist or recent fashion school graduate, paving the way for further projects.
Why It Matters
Nars joins a handful of brands who experimented in the past year with the creation of virtual influencers or partnering with existing virtual influencers - among them LVMH with its own avatars and Pacsun through a partnership with Lil Miquela. While the category is nascent, what captured my attention about this particular announcement is how tightly these new avatars are integrated into the IRL products while also creating a backstory for each in a way can guide future expansion of their “being”.
With the announcement of its first three virtual ambassadors, Nars cements its positioning as an innovator in the wider metaverse space. Earlier this year it also launched Nars Color Quest on Roblox which saw 41.8 million visits during its 3 months activation, making it the #1 branded beauty experience on the Roblox platform. There too, Nars created unique characters that personified iconic Nars collections such as Blush and Laguna.
(Disclaimer: the experience was built by Supersocial of which I’m the founder and CEO).
In previous podcast episodes of Into The Metaverse we covered in detail why avatars will play a big role in the metaverse, enabling not only new forms of self-expression for consumers but also new ways through which brands can build their own identity.
Furthermore, data shows that virtual influencers have higher engagement rates than human influencers (in some accounts it’s more than double). As technologies continue to strengthen the merge between the Real and the Unreal, I expect we will see many more experiments by brands with virtual avatars and how they help to not only reimagine brand identity and relationships with consumers, but also inform bigger brand stories.
One thing that is important to highlight is that unlike humans, virtual avatars are crafted and created to fit a certain vision for a personal identity (that of the avatar) and as such it poses a challenge - with complete creative freedom for what the branded avatar is and their personality comes great responsibility to ensure that its personality and identity uplifts people, and not just serving the brands’s bottom line.
With the rise of avatars as a form of expression for both humans and brands, we will see both good and bad experiments. And so, brands must ensure that ultimately this new interactive way of communicating with communities leads to meaningful experiences for people. With the emergence of virtual worlds and virtual avatars as a key use experience modality in the metaverse, we’re going to witness new ways of how brands impact people. Let’s learn from the past and get it right.
(2) Latest on Into The Metaverse Podcast
Listen to episode 35 with Shahar Sorek, CMO of Overwolf and Mishi McDuff, founder and CEO of Blueberry. We cover in detail the role of user-generated content in fueling the metaverse with content and experiences that help shape the future of the Internet, and how digital fashion fits in.
(3) Other news from around the metaverse
Bored Ape Yacht Club Conquered NFTs. Can It Master the Metaverse Too? (CNET)
Building a creator economy - Marc Petit from Epic talks “metaverse” on McKinsey’s podcast (McKinsey)
The metaverse fashion stylists are here (MIT Technology Review)
Animoca Brands takes majority stake in music metaverse company PIXELYNX (Animoca)
Roblox will let 13+ users import contacts and add recommended friends (TechCrunch)
Snapchat’s big new augmented reality feature is letting creators make money (The Verge)
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Into The Metaverse is a multi-segment podcast show that covers companies, technologies and trends through deep interviews with the brilliant minds who build, create for, and invest in the metaverse.
Into The Metaverse covers companies, technologies and trends that are bringing this promise to life. Yonatan Raz-Fridman “Yon” (founder & CEO of Supersocial) interviews the brilliant minds building for, and investing in, the Metaverse.