Marketing in the Metaverse has become an increasingly lucrative venture for beer giant AB InBev, via modern technology along with other commercial brands. As revealed by CoinDesk in March 2022, “virtual beers” and “digital orgasms” have become a reality via the Metaverse.
This is a “seismic shift” in alcohol marketing which the company needed.
In 2020, Lindsey Mclnerney, then the head of the global innovation at the AB InBev (BUD) expressed his belief in the potential of using the Metaverse (virtual reality) and blockchains as a platform for marketing AB InBev products.
Under Ms Mclnerney’s leadership AB InBev piloted a partnership with Zed Run, a crypto horse racing game, to promote its brand Stella Artois by giving users a string of exclusive NFTs. In the first partnership, Stella Artois created a set of unique horse breeds for the platform, complete with themed skins as well as a 3D racetrack for users to enjoy.
This marking effort was further accelerated due to the ongoing pandemic and the popularity of the virtual world. The partnership paid homage to AB InBev’s multi-year “The Life Artois” campaign and for the first-time mainstream beer entered the Metaverse.
The programme ended up getting more than 100 million media impressions in the first week.
For Big Alcohol the metaverse is key to reaching today’s young people
Big Alcohol is rapidly expanding into the Metaverse to increase alcohol availability and drive consumption for more profit. And AB InBev is at the forefront.
The alcohol industry has already started with virtual liquor stores, NFT product sales, sponsorship, and marketing of virtual events. Existing alcohol policy systems are not equipped to handle this rapid expansion of the alcohol industry in the metaverse. There are many loopholes in current alcohol laws which can be exploited by the alcohol industry for profit maximization.
The metaverse does not have clear ownership like other internet platforms, such as social media sites like Facebook or web hosting providers like Google. Platforms on the metaverse are mostly built on blockchain technology. These platforms do not operate on a single web server. Instead, content is distributed across numerous computer servers via a peer-to-peer network. This means there is no clear owner or jurisdiction for the metaverse.
This nature of the metaverse gives rise to a host of issues in terms of regulating the alcohol industry on the metaverse. The problems are compounded by the lack of an internationally binding convention for regulating alcohol, such as the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Current alcohol policies differ not only from country to country but also within countries depending on the states or provinces. Such a piecemeal approach to regulating the alcohol industry is outdated and insufficient in the face of the emerging metaverse and Big Alcohol’s effort to exploit for driving alcohol availability.
Marketing to young people under the legal age for purchasing alcohol is illegal in the U.S. and around the world. But Big Alcohol has been engaging in this illegal and unethical practice for years.
- A recent report from Alcohol Change UK showed that retailers are failing to adhere to their own voluntary codes of conduct to not deliver alcohol to minors and adults who are already intoxicated.
- The Addictions France Association recently exposed two social media accounts under the same username which are suspected of advertising in disguise for alcohol giant Pernod Ricard. Some of the advertisements even feature children.
- Movendi International recently exposed how Big Alcohol specifically targets young people online.