Data & Tech

The creative challenges of the metaverse

Building teams, limited space, and a whole new set of cultural trends are among the obstacles facing brands.
article cover

Absolut, Chipotle, Miller Lite

· 5 min read

A bar or a restaurant in the metaverse may seem counterintuitive; you can’t get a buzz from a virtual beer or bite into a piece of pizza when it’s made of pixels.

Nevertheless, some brands are eager to set up shop on platforms like Decentraland and Roblox, presenting a new set of creative challenges for their agencies.

“The trap of emerging technologies is that you go in with a technology idea thinking it’s a concept, when in fact you’re just utilizing a technology because it’s hot and trendy,” Christine Lane, head of innovation and experience at DDB North America, told Marketing Brew. “If we’re going to be using an emerging technology, it’s because the concept dictates that that’s where we’re meant to be because it's going to satisfy the business goals.”

Once a creative team does get the ball rolling on a virtual experience, they’re likely to encounter even more hurdles.


As Samuel L. Jackson’s character in The Avengers said, “The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.”

He was talking about a team of superheroes, but the sentiment can apply to creative teams, too. A video ad campaign needs a production company, a director, sound designers, and video editors, just to name a few.

Building a metaverse experience also requires a big team, according to Roberto Max Salas, co-founder and CEO of creative service and production agency Young Hero, one of the many that worked on Absolut.Land, Absolut’s Coachella experience in the metaverse.



Absolut is a client of marketing agency United Entertainment Group, which in turn tapped Young Hero to help with creative development and production, Salas said. Young Hero then brought on partners, including metaverse studio and NFT consultancy Banquet to help find the right land, metaverse event and entertainment company Parcel Party to help develop the space, and metaverse influencers the DCL Babydolls to advise on design and drive people to the event.

Tressie Lieberman, VP of digital marketing and off-premise for Chipotle, told us the brand has mobilized larger creative teams for metaverse campaigns than it does for more traditional ones.

Chipotle has so far hosted two virtual experiences on Roblox: the first tied to its annual Halloween event last year, and the second on National Burrito Day this past April.

Chipotle in the metaverse


“It takes a large, cross-functional group to bring something like this to life, which is another reason we’ve leaned into platforms like Roblox that have scaled to make sure that the effort that we’re putting into this has the potential to really drive that mass engagement,” she said.

Literal territory in uncharted territory

There are perks to working in the metaverse, to be sure.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.

Pam Forbus, CMO and SVP of Pernod Ricard North America, said it offers a lot of creative freedom. Take Absolut.Land’s “antigravity dance floor,” which Forbus said “was one of the most popular aspects of Absolut.Land with over 90,000 visits” in an email.

Absolut in the metaverse


But just like in the real world, creatives have to adhere to a budget, and land in the metaverse is more expensive in some areas, according to Lane. DDB found a workaround on this front for Miller Lite’s “Meta Lite Bar” in Decentraland, using portals to send users from the main space to different virtual rooms situated on more affordable land.

“The consumer doesn’t know any difference,” Lane said. “They just think they’re walking through a portal, but suddenly they’re out in the middle of nowhere, which is going to be much cheaper to maintain than your fancy storefront, which was on prime real estate.”

Miller Lite in the metaverse

Miller Lite

Metaverse platforms like Decentraland also limit the amount of details that designers can include on each parcel of that real estate, a problem Salas said the Absolut team ran into. They ended up including as much detail as they could on the first floor of the building and less higher up, where fewer users were likely to venture. “It’s almost like playing around with Twitter characters,” he said.

Plus, the culture of the metaverse is quite literally that of “another world,” Salas said, with its own unique trends.

For example, Salas told us that users who attend parties in Decentraland have taken to climbing up to the rails that surround some buildings to dance, so his team made sure the Absolut building, which was shaped like an Absolut bottle, had rails available.

No escape from reality

When done correctly, these activations can drive real-world results. A recent study from McKinsey found that about 79% of consumers active in the metaverse have made a purchase there, while 33% of them have purchased real-world items via the metaverse.

Absolut.Land—which was only open during Coachella, despite Absolut permanently owning that property—saw 30,000 visits during that time, Forbus said. Absolut also drove 1.5 times more sales during this year’s festival weekends than it did in 2019.

Chipotle’s “Boorito” Halloween metaverse experience helped the company reach a record for most single-day app downloads, Lieberman said, while Burrito Builder on Roblox enables users to earn virtual currency that can be used for real-world menu items, because for all the things brands can do in the metaverse, they can’t (yet) virtually replicate the taste of a burrito.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.