You’ve seen the branded spaces created in Fortnite and the activations hosted in Roblox, but some organizations are building their very own experiential digital destinations as a tentative first step towards cracking the metaverse code. These brand-owned virtual worlds reach well beyond the structure of traditional virtual environments, and are opening up groundbreaking ways of engaging and educating consumers. Some brands even plan to tie touchpoints from the virtual destination they develop back into IRL events. The bounds, of course, are endless when you’re developing an owned experience that doesn’t require integration with someone else’s platform. And early adopters are reaping the benefits. Let’s take a look at three recent examples.


Timberland built a fully-immersive digital TimbsTrails experience that takes users on a visually vibrant tour of the brand’s history via a mix of storytelling, art, music and characters. Timberland makes it clear from the start: “This is not a game; it’s a story.” Users can choose to follow any of a number of maze-like virtual paths offering everything from a tour of the factory where Timbs were first made, to an exploration of Timberland’s deep roots in hip-hop culture, to a lush green environment showcasing its commitment to sustainability. Regardless of the path they choose, users are sent on an experiential journey through the brand’s heritage, brought to life by clickable hotspots, detailed scenery and ambient noise. The platform also has a gamification element—players who complete the full journey are eligible to win Timberland’s newest GreenStride boots, as well as other prizes. (Agency: R/GA Australia.)



BMW claims to have created its “own metaverse” with the unveiling of Joytopia. The platform allows users to navigate three ethereal digital worlds—Re:THINK, Re:IMAGINE and Re:BIRTH”—as avatars, with a map and signposts to guide them. The worlds incorporate themes important to the future of the BMW brand, including the circular economy, electric mobility, urban mobility and sustainability. The platform debuted in alignment with the (in-person) IAA Mobility motor show, and featured an exclusive virtual Coldplay concert within the environment, as well as an option to take digital selfies. Oh, and a virtual fox, featuring the voice of Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Waltz, guided the way.

Joytopia is currently getting a revamp, but BMW says it “will remain an integral element of corporate and brand communications.” A message on the platform currently reads: “Joytopia is the world where BMW thinks out loud about the future. A space full of questions, ideas and answers. And it’s coming back soon. Stay tuned and visit us again soon to find out more.” Color us intrigued.

BMW Joytopia_1



Skincare brand SK-II made headlines with its virtual SK-II City, a digital world inspired by the streets of Tokyo where users can explore a bustling urban center featuring the sights and sounds of the city’s renowned pedestrian zone, Shibuya Crossing. Japanese landmarks like Mount Fuji and Tokyo Tower, and exclusive brand experiences, are all part of the platform. The highlight is a virtual cineplex where visitors can be immersed in the SK-II STUDIO “VS” series, a collection of six empowering animated films based on the life experiences of female Olympic athletes. Users can additionally cross the street from the theater to get a backstage tour of the film series; stop at an Andy Warhol x SK-II Arcade to learn more about the brand’s Pietra Essence facial treatment and complete mini games to earn badges; explore the stories of women-owned businesses in Tokyo and buy their crafts; and soon to come, an SK-II Mall.

SK-II Virtual City 2021

Featured photo credit: BMW

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