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Honey, we’re having twins! (Or, the metaverse of things)

“I so love to hear the song of things…”
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1921

One of my new fixations is the accelerated need for digital matchmaking, introduced by the free space of the metaverse.

I remember importing CAD files into production in early setup jobs in the mid-2000s, and dreading witnessing a fully realized digital version of a product. For a producer like me, the artful, comprehensive digitization of the product—a specialization in CGI design—was a worthy hybrid of a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship. But it was a grudging admiration, given that it might negate a trip to Cape Town for that drive-in shoot.

I also admired how the products I iterated and integrated into my ad experiences also found their way into the culture through the sometimes slick, sometimes clumsy placement technique.

With the metaverse, product placement may never have looked so good. His land was once the only area to see Cheerios in the Seinfeld closet. Or the ordinary (and obviously unpaid) sighting of Eggo in Stranger Things. Or Elliott, at the dawn of intergalactic history, chasing ET via a lead from Reese’s Pieces (although on the marketing side of the story, M&M’s got the first shot).

But what about one or the other?

Depending on who’s watching, when, and how, maybe it could be a streak of pretzel M&M’s in the Spielberg classic after all, or crumbs of Doritos, or drops of Cherry Coke. Wait, what if ET wanted Elliott to stock up on antioxidants with baby carrots?

Customizing an analog narrative like ET isn’t extraordinary and not too difficult in today’s VFX landscape. But what about the experience in the virtual world? Regardless of the construction and crafting necessities of the digital representation, the placement potential is limitless. And just as those chocolatey peanut butter chunks were narratively distinctive (a bonus in product placement), the engagement potential is as jaw-dropping as the climactic takeoff of Elliott’s dirt bike.

In Web3, we’ll define our experiences – and, count on it (the blockchain certainly will), it’ll be full of…stuff. Products will be reproduced, they will be dimensional, photorealistic and perfected. And they will be raw, pixelated and unfinished. They will be on our doorstep in an hour and/or digital (and non-fungible) perpetual.

In February of this year, at Hogarth and WPP, we announced The Metaverse Foundry, a hotbed of virtual thinking and creation. In defining one of Hogarth’s primary roles in guiding networked construction, Richard Glasson, our CEO, expressed such complex activation in very simple terms, going so far as to state one of the most compelling missions of the marketing in the virtual space: “We recently launched the Metaverse Foundry, which is entirely dedicated to producing virtual, 3D and CG artwork that lives in the metaverse. It’s a whole world that our clients have to think about: how the public will expect them to present themselves.

By “climb” we mean many things. But without a doubt, and especially for brands, it’s to see, experience and personalize products.

I’m really committed to building experiences involved in the metaverse. I’ve never been so invigorated by the sheer potential of things… I mean, what am I going to look like on all platforms? What am I wearing – no, not what am I wearing, how am I going to accessorize? And I can finally wear eyeliner again, like I did in the clubs in the late 80s!

Too bad to wait for the new Aston Martin in the next version of James Bond at the cineplex – I will test it after seeing the trailer on my Oculus. Better yet, I will co-design the brand new Mach3. I will design the next Twix bar, gluten free, with marshmallow creme. And I’ll watch an automated version of Jonah Hill vouching (assuming he still likes marshmallow).

I have a friend who makes miniature plastic parts for modeling luxury cars – just like it takes craftsmanship to build the high-end Rolls-Royce, so does the full-size version. ‘a shoe. As I browsed through her shop, I realized that the virtual spotlights the wonder of representation, and I was struck that there’s the main thing, and there’s a tangible alternative to that thing, and then there’s the virtual thing. But which is real, which is the real?

Well, they’re all real. The metaverse will help us achieve this more than ever.

The most forward-looking production mind I’ve ever worked with is Hogarth’s CIO, Penri Jones. He and I recently colluded on prioritizing our approach for a new business RFP. Penri helped simplify most of what needed to be done: “It’s all about digital twins. We need to explain to them how they can digitally create and apply their product and experience, everywhere. We need to demonstrate this pipeline to them.

Experience and product creation will be largely in the hands of ad creators (from ads to algorithms), psychics, players, APIs, avatars, and passionate fans. The expertise, efficiency, and craftsmanship of building and setting these things up could be as critical as actually building them. At that, the realization of the product will be unrecognizable from where we are now, with the production challenges surrounding it both relieved (“boo, reshoots”, “go prefiz”, “yay lifecycle”, “holy AI! “) and richly systematized.

I thought I had missed my chance to imaginatively place my client’s product in a megahit, but with the replication, customization, and unlocking of creative tools in the metaverse, that’s yet to come.

Dave Rolfe is Global Head of Production at Hogarth Worldwide

#Honey #twins #metaverse

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