How Nike and Adidas paved different paths into the Metaverse | Admixture | Open microphone

Photo credit: Adidas Originals

As 2021 ended, global brands made a hurricane into the metaverse. In particular, two of the world’s most important sportswear, shoe and fashion brands, Nike and Adidas, have activated their Metaverse and Web3 strategies.

That they did that is interesting. But how they did this is fascinating, with two very different approaches. Adidas has arguably taken a more community-driven path by teaming up with a number of established companies and communities in the Web3 metaverse space. Nike initially focused on the Web2 Metaverse platform Roblox before taking over the well-known digital clothing company RTFKT. get started in Web3

Why is this distinction between Web2 and Web3 important for brands’ metaverse strategies? In essence, Web2 is the current version of the internet that we are all very familiar with and where Metaverse platforms like Roblox and Fortnite offer tremendous opportunities for brands. Web3 refers to the next phase of the Internet, which is decentralized and not geared towards a small number of leading technology platforms. This is where the relationship between brands and their audience is really improved and redefined.

Only time will tell if Adidas or Nike offer the more effective blueprint for brands looking to involve their audiences in the metaverse. One thing is already clear: Even global powerhouses with huge resources are realizing the value of working with existing creator communities rather than trying to build the metaverse on their own terms.

Roblox: an ideal starting point for brands

Nike initially headlined the Metaverse onslaught in late 2021 by releasing Nikeland on Roblox. It’s an extremely impressive, persistent virtual world with experiences, mini-games, and clothing. Nike is in good company here, as brands like Vans, Chipotle, Gucci, and Hyundai have all created eternal worlds, games, or limited-time experiences on Roblox. Nike itself created a Roblox experience back in 2019. So, while it was amazing, it wasn’t a groundbreaking move.

Photo credit: Nike

As a proprietary platform, Roblox is commonly referred to as a walled garden. It is run by creators but they can only use the tools Roblox offers to make money from the content they create. Built on the “old” Web2 technology and with established routes for brand partnerships, Roblox is clearly an ideal creative sandbox for brands to try out possibilities, to inspire their audiences and to offer them added value.

Entry into the decentralized Metaverse

While partnering with a single technology platform like Roblox is familiar and straightforward, Web3 platforms are decentralized – meaning they are effectively owned by their users. This means brands need to work closely with communities of passionate virtual landowners and content creators and hold these brands an obligation to maximize their creativity in order to add value to their audiences.

While there are examples of successful brand experimentation in Web3 ecosystems like Somnium Space, Decentraland, and Sandbox, Adidas and Nike are largely breaking new ground as they attempt to set the standard for brands in the metaverse.

Adidas in the Web3 metaverse

That is why Adidas in particular pursued a soft-soft-catchy-apey strategy, which was primarily aimed at enriching existing projects. The sportswear giant originally bought Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT # 8774 in September 2021, something any (admittedly wealthy) individual could do. BAYC is probably the most famous collection of NFTs. Owned by the likes of Steph Curry and Jimmy Fallon, they’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone, signed as artists by the Universal Music Group, and acted as a sign of an exclusive membership organization.

Since BAYC owners have commercial rights, Adidas used # 8774 to create an original character named Indigo Heart before announcing a formal partnership with BAYC, Gmoney, and the makers of Punks Comics in December. This collaborative NFT drop grossed around $ 23 million and is already the second most traded collection on the largest NFT marketplace, OpenSea (although it has been plagued by technical issues).

To further improve its Web3 credentials, Adidas bought land in the sandbox to build AdiVerse – it can be thought of as a decentralized rival to Nikeland. The above-mentioned NFTs serve as access tokens for virtual merch in AdiVerse, so that owners can outfit their sandbox avatars in unique clothing. The company has also announced an association with the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, although the details are still unknown.

Nike on the Web3 Metaverse

While Adidas received all the applause in early December, Nike was working hard in the background on its Web3 strategy. After Nike had already registered several patents for virtual goods, Nike was on the verge of acquiring RTFKT.

Photo credit: NZXT / RTFKT

The deal, which was signed on December 13th, immediately made Nike the leading creator of virtual sneakers in the Metaversum as well as the co-creator of the most traded NFT collection on OpenSea (before Adidass BAYC drop). Depending on how Nike uses its new Web3 power, this step could be viewed as a masterpiece or a clumsy misstep.

If Nike chooses to continue to take creative lead in the metaverse while providing RTFKT with manufacturing resources, it is much more likely to be a masterpiece. In this way, Nike and RTFKT would set the standard for mixing virtual and physical clothing, combining exclusive virtual wearables with real counterparts. On the flip side, by incorporating RTFKT into the parent brand, Nike could roll over a successful Metaverse creator with a devoted community. While it may not have been quite as creative as Adidas so far, I assume Nike is way too adept to do this.

This is just the beginning …

As owners and developers of virtual land and experiences, we at Admix understand the importance of brands having seasoned guides to the metaverse. So it is encouraging that both Nike and Adidas have demonstrated awareness of working with existing Web3 projects.

The reason I’m currently ahead of Adidas in building a Web3 brand is because they decided to dive deeper into the community, own land in the Metaverse, and create a new NFT collection while Nike moved on focused on the Web2 community before capturing a route in Web3.

While the finances involved in these Metaverse listings aren’t necessarily bankrupt for the two sportswear giants, they’re just the beginning. Your success will provide templates or cautionary stories for other brands wondering how to take their own steps into the metaverse, with far-reaching implications for how brands will interact with their audiences in the next phase of the internet.


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