In order to ensure the new virtual landscape is more equitable than both today’s internet and physical words, Unilever asserts that inclusivity must be at the forefront for such things as avatars and experiences, as well sustainability.
“From our work in this space so far, it’s clear that just as purpose connects with people in the real world, it matters in the metaverse too,” O'Brien added.
During a keynote at the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Global Marketer Week 2022 in April, Conny Braams, chief digital and commercial officer at Unilever, called on the advertising industry to work together for a decentralised, safe and trusted environment online.
"The challenges and concerns of consumers today will only be amplified in an environment where personal data becomes more personal,” she said. “Regulation alone is not enough. Self-regulation alone is not enough. Self-restraint alone is not enough.”
“We need a shift in mindset, from solving problems to preventing problems. We need to act so we don’t need to react. Prevent before we need to treat. Foresight instead of hindsight. (…) A true technology evolution must be accompanied by the development of substantial, new, ethical infrastructures and policies. (…) Because the internet without trust, is scandal.”
For many CPGs, the metaverse holds great potential for consumer engagement, though both its definition and ROI are perpetually muddy. While Forrester maintains that all current activities are precursors to the metaverse — as they offer immersive 3D experiences, but do not yet enable consumers to travel or move among disparate environments with their belongings — many companies are slotting their experiments under a large “metaverse” umbrella, particular within its marketing.
[See also: Heineken Embraces Digital Experiences]
For its part, Unilever has experimented in a number of ways with virtual experiences, including a virtual marathon held in Decentraland for its Degree brand. The event too had a DE&I component, with avatar wearables including wheelchairs, prostheses, and running blades.
Other Unilever initiatives executed within Decentraland have included the Closeup City Hall of Love with NFT marriage certificates and the Magnum Pleasure Museum with digital artwork. The latter bridged both the virtual and physical worlds, as consumers could order ice cream from a vending machine in Decentraland, while a partnership between Unilever and Deliveroo brought it to their homes.
Matteo Trichilo, marketing manager, noted that bringing people ice cream on-demand has been successful for within the gaming space. Moving into Decentraland was “a unique way to trial it in a new, emerging space and inspire other brands and industry leaders.”