Virtual World Marketing: Good for Brands?
Facebook apps are often created to go along with major movie releases, but Avatar is looking to take the cake with virtual worlds being created by Multiverse for McDonald’s and Coca Cola. That’s some serious brand advertising, with peripheral brands looking to leverage the popularity of an upcoming movie as well as a dominating social network for the purpose of engaging consumers.
Multiverse has reportedly worked directly with James Cameron’s Avatar team for the creation of a product that enables the company to create branded virtual worlds for their own purposes. Both McDonald’s and Coca Cola have utilized the new Multiverse virtual worlds for creating online games to increase user engagement, incorporating their own initiatives into the game created around the motif of the popular Avatar movie.
When it comes to a project of this undertaking, it’s important that the integrity of the original movie remains intact, so that any additional branding efforts can be successful. For Multiverse, the ability to work closely with the Avatar production team was a necessary aspect of the development process. Ultimately this enables Multiverse to attract more brands towards the use of custom virtual worlds, joining the potential success of both the movie and the brand itself.
It’s a tactic that’s been used for ages–just think of all those movie-themed toys you can get at fast food restaurants. They create a craze all their own, and that’s the level of heightened consumer dedication companies like McDonald’s and Coca Cola are looking for with new virtual worlds. Even if the brand isn’t directly inserted or incorporated into a movie’s virtual world games, the association made between the two could leave a lasting impression on any participating consumer.
To this end, both McDonald’s and Coca Cola have been quite involved in online marketing for some time, turning to new and trendy methods of advertising for the purpose of achieving that kind of association. Whether or not it will work in a virtual world environment remains to be seen, but the new games released by Multiverse will make for an interesting social experiment. Should the experiment go well, companies like Multiverse will be able to use its success for further branding options.
Branding opportunities within virtual world environments have been a long time coming–even Second Life was given too much credit for its ability to attract brands for marketing purposes. What Multiverse is looking to do is reverse the traditional methods around branded virtual initiatives, bringing the users into a virtual environment set up especially for them.
When it comes to something like Avatar, the ability to attract users is a little bit easier than a movie that didn’t have the same budget or amount of hype generated around the movie’s release. But the idea of creating highly involved virtual environments for one-off branding could become a new trend, especially if a mobile front can be leveraged for further distribution and growth.
One major issue remaining is the fact that such virtual environments still may not be long-lasting, as they appeal to niche consumers, possibly for a limited amount of time. With Multiverse being at the center of highly involved virtual environments, however, the company has the opportunity of becoming the central factor for possibly associating several of its own virtual worlds for seamless integration.
Brands willing to participate efforts towards this end may see themselves wanting to offer such integration with other virtual environments for the purpose of making it even easier for consumers to take their existing experience with them, beyond a movie’s initial hype.