Consumer goods company Unilever is embracing web3 and the metaverse. Unilever owns a raft of household names, including Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, Vaseline, Dove, Hellmann’s mayo and 400 others.
The company has created a cross-functional Web3 collective across marketing, finance, legal, media, procurement and licensing. On the one hand, Unilever is keen to embrace these new virtual worlds. But at the same time, it wants to mitigate the risks and concerns around web3 and the metaverse.
“We’re currently on the cusp of a seismic shift: the biggest change to the digital landscape, and culture, since the dawn of social media in the early 2000s with Web2,” said Emily O’Brien, a Program Director of Unilever’s in-house Web3 Collective.
“We know our consumers are already immersing themselves in these spaces and spending more of their time with virtual experiences that enable them to explore their passions, participate in cultural events, and engage with like-minded communities.”
She added, “This is a great opportunity for brands, but they must offer genuine utility to consumers and not just jump on the bandwagon. We’re shaping our approach in Unilever to ensure our brands show up authentically in the metaverse, and that people feel safe and valued in our spaces.” That means experiences that are inclusive and sustainable.
Three brands embrace Decentraland metaverse
At least three of Unilever’s brands have launched a presence in the Decentraland metaverse. Magnum ice cream unveiled a gallery, the Magnum Pleasure Museum, to showcase original artwork from Magnum collaborations with various creatives. It also wanted to simulate the future vending machine by showcasing how one might place food orders in the metaverse through its existing collaboration with Deliveroo.
“Through our Ice Cream Now business, we’re bringing people ice creams on-demand. We’ve done it through gaming with great success,” said Federico Russo, Global eCommerce Lead at Magnum. “This was a unique way to trial it in a new, emerging space and inspire other brands and industry leaders.”
For those who remember the early days of virtual worlds such as Second Life, marriage proposals and even weddings in 3D worlds were not uncommon. The name of Unilever’s toothpaste brand CloseUp is based on relationships. So CloseUp created a 2022 version with the ability to mint an NFT marriage certificate in the Closeup City Hall of Love in Decentraland.
Deodorant brand Rexona – known as Sure or Degree in some markets – is also active in Decentraland. It introduced adaptive wearables such as wheelchairs and running blades for Decentraland avatars to ensure people with disabilities are represented.
Decentraland has hosted many other brands beyond Unilever. Mastercard sponsored the metaverse’s Pride Parade, and other financial institutions such as JP Morgan, Santander and Fidelity have also set up shop. Other brands with a presence include Coca-Cola, Forever 21, Estee Lauder and Wrangler.
Meanwhile, Unilever has previously been involved in various blockchain initiatives, including for advertising and sustainability. In the latter case, Ben & Jerry’s used the technology to tackle deforestation and it was also used to ensure palm oil is sustainably sourced.