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Brands are making their bets on the metaverse.Stella Artois/ZED RUN
When a virtual Kentucky Derby replaced the real thing at the height of the pandemic last year, virtual horse racing gained mainstream attention. What many brands don’t know is that digital racing has been around for a while and it’s rapidly evolving beyond virtual replacements for live events.
Brands Bet On The Metaverse
As we wrote about last month, non-fungible tokens verging into strange and unique territory. Case in point are platforms like ZED RUN that have taken digital horse racing to another level, using NFTs to allow users to buy, sell and breed digital racehorses, and enter them into races. The world may be virtual but the money is very real: a Z1 Genesis racehorse carries a value of upwards of $36,000. ZED RUN indicates they have 100,000 global users and its community has grown 1000 percent since this March. And now big brands that have traditionally sponsored real-life racing events are looking to get in on the virtual action.
First out of the gate is Stella Artois, which has just announced they are teaming up with ZED RUN to give users a string of exclusive NFTs. In the first partnership, Stella Artois has created a set of unique horse breeds for the platform, complete with themed skins, as well as a 3D racetrack for users to enjoy. So in other words, there is a direct to avatar component, or shall we say, direct to horse in this case.
Stella Artois is part of the Budweiser Brewing Group and Lindsey McInerney, the brewer’s Global Head of Tech & Innovation, sees this partnership as a logical next step for the brand.
“Stella Artois has always been about creating and facilitating memorable, premium experiences and bringing people together,” Lindsey explains. “As the digital world increasingly enriches our lives, it makes sense that we want to meet consumers where they are and be a part of their virtual world too.”MORE FOR YOU
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The brand sees this partnership as a pioneering move for brands more generally, bridging the gap between big brand advertisement and new digital entertainment experiences. According to the company, Stella’s NFTs have been envisioned as an extension of its ‘The Life Artois’ campaign, bringing its style and artwork to the digital realm.
But Stella Artois’ metaverse move isn’t just savvy brand strategy. ZED RUN users might have an opportunity to own what could be deemed valuable NFTs in the future today if they’re smart with their bidding. Five live auctions are taking place this week, ending on June 19. Bidders will be vying to bag one of 50 Genesis digital racehorse NFTs, released at a rate of ten per day, each wrapped with an exclusive Stella Artois branded skin and coming with a crypto art piece.
“It’s been brilliant to partner with ZED RUN and create a unique experience for their users that combines the legacy of Stella Artois and its history with the innovation of the Zed platform. The team has perfectly captured the optimism, joyfulness and contemporary sophistication that’s key to The Life Artois identity across every medium,” added Lindsey.
Racing Into The Future
Creative ideas quickly get copied and we’ll soon probably see other brands follow this move and enter the metaverse with similar partnerships. Many consumers seem to be betting on that metaverse horse and brands are taking note and joining the race.