“Games and virtual spaces are the future of storytelling.” Akbar Hamid, Founder of 5th Column and Co-Founder of POClab.
How to successfully engage Gen Z is a key challenge for every marketer and fashion and beauty brand, from Gucci to L’Occitane. They are increasingly turning to the Metaverse and gaming platforms to cater to the Gen Z audience.
of Shorty Impact Award Celebrating the year’s most impactful social and short-form content.2023 Events Held in Los Angeles This Week Introduced game as a new category Metaverse Pride Campaign—partnership between crypto people (POC)Lab, NYX professional makeup and 5th row— won the Audience Award. This campaign also diversity, equity and inclusion Category.
The campaign ran on The Sandbox gaming platform in summer 2022. valley of belonging. “Diversity is deeply embedded in our brand and community. Our community is the driving force behind everything we do. We celebrate with the LGBTQIA+ community and share our We wanted to create a safe space that fosters expression and allyship, while increasing virtual representation and IRL.”
Central to the concept was a voxelized non-fungible token (NFT) avatar collection launched just before the experience. The decline of 8,430 sold out accounts for an estimated 84.3% of the world’s majority population in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community, with skin tones over 36 and features that incorporate various abilities such as prosthetics along with cultural identifiers like the hijab. was representing. NYX Cosmetics makeup looks from each group represented by the Progress Pride flag were featured, with all proceeds going to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
These avatars are valley of belonging There was also a drag queen non-player character (NPC) and an avatar in a wheelchair to guide visitors through the experience. It culminated in a sky party with an illuminated dance floor featuring the words “Say Gay.”
“There are many places in the world where pride doesn’t exist and it’s illegal to be gay. pride It’s universal,” Akbar Hamid, founder of 5th Column and co-founder of POClab, told me. Hamid identifies as a gay South Asian Muslim.
This experience is Pew Research Center, found that nearly 40% of U.S. Millennials and Gen Z identify as LGBTQIA+. Similarly, Intel’s report reported that 81% of Gen Zers are actively participating in gaming.
Taken together, the team found a gap. “We didn’t feel like the diversity of the gaming community was reflected in the games being produced,” Hamid says. Thus, the idea was born: “a diverse, inclusive, safe and celebratory environment where members of the BIPOC, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ gaming communities can be represented in the worlds they regularly interact with.” .
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential for a truly open metaverse,” said Sebastien Borget, COO and co-founder of The Sandbox. “Rather than reproducing real-world bias and inequality, the metaverse must break down barriers and build an inclusive and welcoming global community.”
“Our vision for The Sandbox is to create a continuous shared digital space where worlds and brands collide, a place where everyone can participate, engage, create and play.” He said.
Storytelling in the Metaverse
Regarding NYX Cosmetics’ participation, the lack of certain products was notable. This focus on brand ethos rather than product push resonates with Gen Z, digital natives who prefer brands that share their values.
“Brands should not be leading a product-first strategy for the metaverse or virtual world,” Hamid said. “Gen Z audiences don’t want products sold to them within gaming environments. Brands need to use these rich, creative, and immersive environments to tell their stories. .”
He said such a world “provides an opportunity to educate, entertain, uplift and celebrate the community and causes you support.” Make these viewers feel like they are part of your brand, part of your mission, and feel deeply connected and understood. ”
While he acknowledged the continued appeal of Web2 platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, he said, “It’s important for consumers to come in, be immersed, explore, interact, and actually feel like they’re truly part of the brand.” There is no other platform that allows you to build a custom environment that can do this.”
“Games and virtual spaces are the future of storytelling,” he said, citing Metaverse Pride as an example along with Cultureverse with Walmart. This is another of his POC initiatives celebrating his 50th anniversary of hip-hop in his Spatial metaverse.
The experience garnered approximately 730 million impressions with 17 million visitors and 360,000 players.
“What we have done with Metaverse Pride and NYX Cosmetics inside The Sandbox is a perfect example of celebrating the community that NYX Cosmetics represents every day,” Hamid said. They stay true to the brand’s mission and have an affinity and loyalty to the brand that drives purchases IRL. ”
“We showcased how consumer brands can successfully lead with culture,” agreed Simone Berry, Black and neurodiverse co-founder of POC Lab. She said, “Culture drives commerce. Black and brown people, women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community collectively have immense purchasing power and unprecedented cultural influence.”
Hamid added that the Metaverse Pride experience also serves as a pathway to other brands in the space. For example, World of Women participated in subsequent projects for The Sandbox. Affiliation week We held an art exhibition celebrating inclusivity.
Recently, elf beauty elf UP! The Roblox experience sought to gamify social influence. With a focus on edutainment, we encouraged users to launch their dream startups and gamified them to gain entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, and raise awareness of social issues.