Pizza Hut, Jimmy John’s tie first metaverse experiments to real-world rewards

    • Jimmy John’s and Pizza Hut have joined others in the restaurant category in dipping their toes into the metaverse, per separate news releases emailed to Marketing Dive.
    • The Yum Brands pizza chain is taking its first crack at the concept in ComplexLand, a virtual shopping experience running May 25-27. The company teamed with artist Rob Shields to design custom delivery vehicles, delivery driver avatars and nine nonfungible tokens (NFTS) that embody cyberpunk themes. The skeletal drivers will accept submissions for a chance to win one of the NFTs, each of which unlocks a year of free pizza.
    • Jimmy John’s worked with agency Anomaly to create an interactive version of a restaurant location in Decentraland. There, users can build a custom “Metasandwich” that can be ordered for pickup in the real world and submitted for consideration to become an actual menu item for a limited time. Both activations demonstrate how marketers are focusing on tying rewards into their metaverse experiments as the novelty of digital experiences starts to wane.

    Jimmy John’s and Pizza Hut’s initial forays into the metaverse step beyond simply running a virtual activation to instead offer tangible incentives for consumers to pop in. As the metaverse has achieved industry buzzword status over the past year, marketing efforts have proliferated, but also blurred together.

    At the same time, the value of metaverse-adjacent assets like NFTs and cryptocurrencies has plunged, meaning there could more of an uphill battle to draw interest in the current environment. The promise of free pizza for a year or having a personalized sandwich order added to the menu for a limited time might help win over skeptics. Setting up shop in the digital sphere also opens up perks that could be harder to pull off in real life.

    In making the Jimmy John’s Metasandwiches, for example, users can add “secret ingredients” like cookies without getting gawked at by fellow diners. The Decentraland restaurant additionally carries exclusive promo codes and access to Jimmy John’s merchandise. Custom sandwiches can be submitted through May 22 to be judged. The winning idea will be delivered to the first 100 people who order it from May 31 through June 3, Jimmy John’s said.

    Pizza Hut is relying on the hype surrounding an existing metaverse event with ComplexLand, a commerce-focused experience entering its third year. The free online gathering run by the publisher Complex this year will enable first-person exploration and features an NFT gallery curated by Lil Miquela, a virtual influencer. Pizza Hut has spread its delivery vehicles and their accompanying cyberpunk-inspired drivers at various locations around the space, mirroring how a brand might promote itself at a real-world pop-up or festival.

    Recent metaverse activations from the restaurant category have proved popular. Wendy’s in March ran a “Wendyverse” effort where consumers could explore a virtual restaurant in Horizon Worlds, the virtual-reality platform owned by Meta. It reached 52 million users, Meta executives said.

    While metaverse strategies continue to be ironed out, the intended audience is clear. Pizza Hut cited a recent study from Vice Media Group and Razorfish that found Gen Zers spend twice as much time socially interacting in the metaverse than they do in real life.


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