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    Heineken parodies metaverse with virtual brew

    • Heineken claims to have created the world’s first virtual beer within the metaverse, per a press release.
    • The Heineken Silver brew will only be available in the beer company’s virtual brewery on Decentraland, at which guests of a launch party learned how the beer was made while dining on “pixilated lobster and caviar” and interacting with Heineken brand ambassadors, such as soccer coach Thierry Henry.
    • Heineken’s cheeky activation on Decentraland arrives as a wave of brands attempt to stake out a claim in the metaverse, while also serving as a brand education opportunity for consumers.

    Heineken’s tongue-in-cheek unveiling of a new and entirely virtual beer nods to how although the metaverse can bring people together, “it is not the best place to taste a new beer,” as global brand head Bram Westenbrink said at the launch event. The virtual brew — which boasts “no calories, no hidden ingredients, and no beer” — was created to be a sarcastic activation that leans into the hype around the metaverse and virtual goods, while still drumming up brand buzz.

    “Our new virtual beer, Heineken Silver is an ironic joke. It is a self-aware idea that pokes fun at us and many other brands that are jumping into the metaverse with products that are best enjoyed in the real world,” Westenbrink said in a press release.

    Metaverse platforms like Decentraland have become prime (virtual) real estate for brands looking to capitalize on consumer hype around virtual products and experiences. Miller Lite established a metaverse bar to skirt Super Bowl advertising restrictions while Nike established “Nikeland” on the popular gaming platform Roblox. Despite the lingering questions surrounding the metaverse, brands are eager to get in on the action in increasingly creative ways.

    For Heineken, the virtual brewery doubles as an educational opportunity. Within the virtual brewery, consumers can see virtual yeast, known as A-Pixels, brewing in horizontal tanks. The A-Pixels stands in for the actual A-yeast that Heineken uses to brew its real-life product. Visitors can also view virtual hops, dubbed “binary coded hops,” being grown by non-player character farmers (NPCs) in fields. The entire process is overseen by virtual brewing assistants, NPC versions of Heineken brewers.

    In addition to the chance of rubbing shoulders with a Heineken brand ambassador, the company worked with Spanish street artist J.Demsky to design parts of virtual space, a move that further connects the brand and its products to culture. The campaign, including digital videos and a forthcoming TV commercial, was developed with Publicis Italy and Le Pub, per Ad Age. Le Pub is Publicis’ bespoke agency unit that integrates creative, data and brand experiences for the beer brand.

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