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Is it Metaverse?

Article by
Luke Meyer
Digital Director
Young & Laramore
Henrik Persson
Digital Strategist
Young & Laramore
Bess Browning
Associate Media Director
EchoPoint Media
Kait Wilbur
Young & Laramore
Placeholder Image? Isitmetaverse yellow 3d

Since the dawn of the internet, web developers have been kind of obsessed with creating virtual realities, from the candid conversations in AOL chatrooms to the full-scale world-building in Second Life. As our online lives become more and more seamlessly merged with our offline ones, more virtual reality-ish tools (immersive headsets, multiplayer online video games, those uncanny valley Apple MeMoji things) are popping up every day. And ever since Facebook announced its vision to pivot toward virtual reality—and renamed its parent company Meta— the collective virtual dimension known as the metaverse has been on everyone’s mind.

Some savvy brands have already started running promotions in the metaverse, making other brands curious what their first foray into virtual-world advertising should be/ go “ooh ooh me too!”/ask their employees ages 30 and under to figure out what to do with it. And as new companies constantly try to build their own versions of the metaverse, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to pinpoint what exactly the metaverse even is.

So to try and make sense of it all, let’s play the game that’s been sweeping the internet…


That’s right! The only game where we talk about companies and products in the virtual realm and try to determine whether each one is or isn’t part of the metaverse.

Let’s meet our four panelists:

Luke Meyer

  • Digital Director
  • Once rented a VirtualBoy from a Blockbuster video
  • Has had a Second Life account since 2008

“For something to be metaverse it needs to be persistent (stuff can happen when I’m not there) and have some kind of economy, whether through its own currency, cryptocurrency, or digital goods trading.“

Henrik Persson

  • Digital Strategist
  • Developed an AR museum walkthrough project using Google Glass (Which could become relevant again someday, who knows?)
  • Gets motion sickness from watching other people play 1st person video games

“Most successful tech ideas aren’t cutting-edge. They tend to come about when technology has evolved far enough to resurrect what failed in the past. The metaverse is primed to take advantage of that. Probably.”

Bess Browning

  • Media Director (Digital)
  • Has a 5-star island on Animal Crossing
  • Created a Facebook account when it was only open to college students

“I’ve read too many dystopian YA novels to not be worried about the ramifications of going to a fully VR society.”

Kait Wilbur

  • Writer
  • Younger than Google
  • Thinks Mark Zuckerberg might be a lizard person

“I really hope the metaverse isn’t the only way I’ll get to meet my grandkids.”

Onto the game.

We'll name a thing and let the panelists decide if it counts as the metaverse or not. Let’s get started!

Placeholder Image? Decentraland

Source: Decentraland


This is... a virtual world launched in 2020 that you can access from your web browser. Users can buy plots of land using cryptocurrency and build virtual buildings and experiences on the land that they own.

Brands have used it like... Miller Lite opened a virtual bar in Decentraland for the 2022 Super Bowl. And earlier this year Decentraland was the site of a virtual fashion week with 70+ brands including Estée Lauder, Forever 21 and Perry Ellis America.

Luke: IS METAVERSE This hits the big metaverse requirements for me: Economy (with NFTs) and persistent virtual space (that users can “own”). Since it’s pretty open and allows creators to build whatever they want, it feels very gamey right now. (Kind of like Second Life back in the day.) There is potential for brands to own spaces and make virtual copies of real-world buildings/experiences, but I feel like these open platforms are sometimes too open, so users may not know why they’re visiting, leaving the brand to carry a lot of the responsibility to explain why and how to come visit.

Henrik: Sure, why not? It seems to have been created just to exist in the metaverse space. There is no real reason for it to exist, allowing it to become something for everyone. Also, Decentraland has Snoop Dogg and his virtual mansion, which doesn’t necessarily make the platform metaverse, but it’s given journalists one of the easiest metaverse-ish stories to talk about.

Placeholder Image? Fortnight

Source: Epic Games


This is... a free online game where players can customize characters and roam around a virtual island to engage in individual or team battles. Or not. Despite being built as a fighting game, the millions of players on Fortnight can also build their own islands, have dance parties, and even host concerts.

Brands have used it like... Because of increased screen time during the pandemic, Fortnite has become a virtual hotspot for some of the biggest all-digital events in the last few years. Marshmello, Travis Scott, and Ariana Grande have all performed concerts in the Fortnite world. Brands like Samsung and Wendy’s have also created custom skins and built entire ad campaigns around the game.

Henrik: No, probably not. It’s a game with plenty of tie ins to the real world and ways for brands to participate both directly and indirectly. But it’s not more metaverse than Candy Crush just because it’s 3-D. What we’re looking at is a smart game that is jumping on every chance to make money. Fortnite is an advertising channel, not the metaverse.

Bess: I asked my school-aged nieces and nephews about this, and their response was “no one cares about Fortnite.” Fortnite has a currency, V-Bucks, and an open map where you can visit anywhere. However, the building feature was turned off for a while, and you can’t really shape the world, just build bases. The building feature is back now, but is that what people really want out of Fortnite? So I say, no! Fortnite is not metaverse.

Placeholder Image? Animal Crossing

Source: Nintendo

Animal Crossing

This is... Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a delightful game for the Nintendo Switch that took the world by storm during the early days of social distancing. In the game, players and their animal avatars buy land from a racoon named Tom Nook. Eventually players unlock tools to shape their land, after which they can visit other people’s islands, buy and sell merchandise, and just feel overall happiness.

Brands have used it like... The Joe Biden campaign created campaign headquarters on its own island. Users could visit the island, meet Joe himself, download campaign merch, or even visit a polling location and a virtual White House. Perhaps the Biden campaign’s biggest success of the island was securing Raymond as a villager. (Which is a big deal, because Raymond is the most sought-after villager in the game.) IKEA, Hellmann’s Canada, and KFC Philippines also jumped on board and made their own branded islands for people to visit, and fashion brands created outfits for users and runaway shows.

Bess: I say yes. Thinking that Animal Crossing is the Metaverse, makes me like the Metaverse much more. In the game, you have currency, you can physically change and shape your land, and you can visit other people’s land. All of it is just so cute that you can help yourself but love this capitalistic island world.

Kait: I didn’t think so initially. I did see a lot of people turning to Animal Crossing for their sense-of-accomplishment needs early in the pandemic. I just wasn’t sure if it’s real-life-substitute-y enough to qualify as metaverse. But maybe it doesn’t need to be. Maybe it’s okay to conduct a portion my life in a world that’s cuter than this one. (Maybe that would be kind of nice, actually.) So yeah. I’d buy Animal Crossing as metaverse.

Placeholder Image? Bored ape yacht club

Source: Bored Ape Yacht Club

Bored Ape Yacht Club

This is... That thing where all those celebrities are paying millions of dollars to own headshots of monkeys. It’s probably the most well-known, high-profile line of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which allow people to use cryptocurrency to purchase digital works of art.

Brands have used it like...

If you work for a brand and you’re lucky enough to connect with the proud owner of a Bored Ape, you can secure yourself a pretty nice licensing deal. Indie beauty brand Glamour Dolls has teamed up with the owners of two Bored Apes for a line of hair and skincare products including face wash, body mousse, and a CBD-infused candle. And last year Adidas announced its collaboration with BAYC to create a line of NFTs featuring apes in the brand’s streetwear and logo as the athletic brand’s first foray into the world of crypto.

Luke: NOT METAVERSE NFTs are metaverse-adjacent because they can provide the verification side of digital goods ownership. It’s no surprise that may metaverse platforms are embracing NFTs as a way to manage goods in their worlds. An NFT that can be at least viewed (if not traded) outside of the platform’s world gives it another level of perceived credibility.

Kait: It feels pretty metaverse to me. I read recently that Timbaland bought an ape and is now making a record label for Bored Ape artists. Not for the people who own them. For the apes. These ape drawings can have a music career. Probably as avatars for the singing people underneath. And avatars-for-people doing real things is pretty much my understanding of the metaverse.

Placeholder Image? Teams

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Teams

This is... Microsoft’s communication platform many offices adopted while navigating to partial remote work during the pandemic. It allows for file-sharing, project-based threads, video chatting, and instant messaging, similarly to other platforms like Slack.

Brands have used it like... Probably mostly to manage their own internal employees. And help them send gifs to each other in the middle of meetings.

Luke: NOT METAVERSE YET. Microsoft has big plans for their platform, including VR meeting rooms. I’m not sure they’ll really get into Teams having its own economy (I hope), but I can see persistent worlds in the shape of workspaces where I leave virtual documents open on my virtual desk next to my half-full virtual coffee mug.

Henrik: Yes. Definitely metaverse. Not because it currently works that way, but because Microsoft wants it to be. Imagine collaborating on an Excel pivot table with exaggerated 3-D rendered versions of your coworkers. It’s not good. It’s not desirable. But it’s metaverse.

Placeholder Image? Po Go

Source: Unsplash

Pokémon Go

This is... An augmented reality game where players can capture virtual Pokémon creatures that appear in the player’s environment when viewed through their phone camera. It had over a billion downloads from 2016 to 2018. When you saw someone walking around a park looking at their phone around then, this was probably what they were doing.

Brands have used it like... At the height of its popularity, businesses were paying to become PokéStops that sold virtual items which attracted Pokémon (and therefore players trying to catch them) to their storefronts.

Luke: Could be. Players can’t create content in the Pokémon Go world, but it is persistent and players can trade with in-game items. Definitely one of the best examples of real-world and virtual world interactivity.

Kait: Yeah. Probably. In 2017, I played Pokémon Go in the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. And there were massive amounts of water type Pokémon there for the collecting. So many of us were on our phones catching fake fish, then looking up to see real fish. Pokémon Go kind of seamlessly weaves the metaverse with the real world, which is the kind of metaverse I can get behind.

And the winner is... Mark Zuckerberg! (Just kidding. Mostly.) Should your brand be using the metaverse to reach your consumers? Yes. But also maybe no. It depends on if your customers are in the metaverse or not. If they are, you should be too. If you’re a food company that delivers to offices a lot, maybe make a Microsoft Teams background that counts down to a group order arriving. Or if you see an uptick in orders every time there's a virtual concert in Decentraland, maybe you can put a virtual food truck next to the concert that users can order real food from. It’s all about finding the right channel where you’ll be relevant.

Don’t be worried if you’re doing the metaverse “right.” There’s no playbook for it yet, so if what you’re doing matches your brand, then it’s the right thing to do. It’s always been about being true to your brand and going where your customers are— whether they’re in the metaverse, the multiverse, or the real-world-verse.