unsplash.comVinicius “amnx” Amano

Part 2: Has Marketing Become a Punchline? Less Metaverse more Universe

Leigh Kellogg
6 min readMay 20, 2022


Welcome to Part 2 of The Attention Series. This series articulates the growing attention problem, discusses how brands are contributing to or solving the challenge via the Metaverse and provides thoughts and a blueprint on the way to win as you bring the Metaverse into your brand strategy. For a Part 1 refresher, click here.

Aziz Ansari has a new Netflix special. My husband and I watched it recently, and it’s hilarious. I’m always so impressed by the deep thinking and observational hilarity comedians provide. In one bit, he’s lamenting on the current culture, and its apathy to solving real problems. In making the joke, he perhaps unintentionally describes the ridiculousness of the marketing world right now.

“Matthias, are you going to that event tonight? There’s like this pop-up for this new collaboration that Travis Scott’s doing with, like Citibank and Chips Ahoy, and they’re selling these, like limited edition Chips Ahoy designed by these like, emerging artists, and, like, wherever you go, you get, like this limited edition tote bag with, like, these limited edition T-shirts designed by these, like, eco-friendly emerging streetwear brands and when you come home, the tote bag, like turns into an NFT and, like, the NFT starts deejaying and it’s all sustainable.”

Mic drop.

It’s uncomfortable and hysterical, and it does feel that way inside the industry sometimes. So clearly there’s an issue here. We’ve brought ourselves to such a point where it’s all just noise. It’s a punchline in a Netflix comedy special. That can’t be good.

So let’s back up. Remember the attention calamity? It’s a critical point here. Marketers continue to pile on and add to the noise, but consumers don’t really have the cognitive capacity to absorb everything we say and do in a meaningful way. Ansari captures the noise perfectly, and it should land with a thud to marketers everywhere.

So this brings me to recent reflections on the metaverse. I get a series of marketing related emails each morning from a variety of publications and at least 4 in 10 are now touting the next big thing, the metaverse. They use descriptive words like “bandwagon” and I’ll admit that makes me nervous. With the current constant stream of cognitive bombardment, is a whole new additional “digital universe” really the answer? A recent stat cited that 49% of marketers believe that the metaverse will impact their strategy in 2022. So if it’s inevitable, how does a brand entering the metaverse use it to make things better and not add to an already mammoth problem?

Let’s talk through a few brand examples and discuss what’s working and what’s not. We’ll begin with some early successes.

The BBC has created an immersive experience featuring David Attenborough for their new series, The Green Planet. In the experience, Attenborough takes you through 6 different digital biomes. This virtual experience is free and provides attendees with a device to attend the actual event in London. The underlying message focuses on sustainability, and provides access and exposure to the importance of plants and biodiversity to our planet’s future. This is a great use case because it makes the climate challenge real and available to people in a new way. Seeing is believing, even in virtual formats.

23 year old CEO, Phillip Wang and 3 college friends from MIT have created a new virtual environment called Gather Town. Gather’s virtual world is low-res, conjuring waves of nostalgia for anyone growing up and playing games in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Wang was inspired by his childhood playing Minecraft and the platform has already caught the attention of Silicon Valley. A University of Chicago professor and students recreated their own university. In the current post pandemic hybrid environment, these students engaged Gather Town to meet up to study together and physics professors were found playing poker in the lounge. How fun! This platform enables a customizable community at scale. Originally, Wang was unsure how this model could be profitable, but leveraging a subscription model, he’s seeing significant growth already. Gather Town is primed to take shape and power a virtual community that can be anything you want it to be.

So those are two fantastic examples of the power and benefits that brands can enable in the metaverse. Let’s turn our attention to brands who’ve jumped in and perhaps not quite hit the mark.

Gucci & Roblox

In May 2021, Gucci and Roblox hosted the Gucci Garden, a two-week installation aimed at building brand awareness with younger customers. They shared a 12 minute experience video and honestly, it could have been 3 mins and had the same effect. A few things went wrong here. The first is their goal of creating brand awareness. The metaverse shouldn’t be used to create awareness. This just adds more noise to the attention problem, and becomes another place where consumers are bombarded. An experience can and must provide some inherent value to the person engaging. Additionally, this was really just a gamified digital store. Buying clothes is a tangible experience for most people. Buying online in a digital format doesn’t give you the ability to see or feel or even try on what you are buying.

Coca-Cola & Tafi

In July 2021, Coca-Cola teamed up with 3D creators at Tafi to drop a virtual vending machine into the metaverse. Participants bid called the Coca-Cola Friendship Box. Winners opening the box discovered one of a kind NFTs up for auction. Some of the NFTs could be worn in Decentraland and the winners also received a real-life Coca-Cola branded fridge. While NFTs are a growing trend in the crypto universe, this effort worked to connect with a much more niche subset of the soda market. It’s hard to say how long it will take for NFTs and crypto acceptance to become mainstream, so it feels a bit rushed and inauthentic for a mass brand like Coca-cola to hop into such a trend in the metaverse.

So a lot is already happening in the metaverse and marketers should be taking notes. I’ll close with a quote and some thoughts from self prescribed digital prophet David (Shingy) Shing.

The metaverse is often discussed in glowing terms as a sort of future virtual home for humanity, as if the physical world that we presently inhabit is somehow inferior. But new technologies, says Shing, are only desirable if they’re able to genuinely improve the quality of life for ordinary people. “[AR] just feels like this new filter on top of everything that we see,” Shing says. “To think we’re going to jump into this thing where we’re going to spend hours and hours in front of more screens? No thanks … there’s time for baking and bedtime stories, and time to head out into the wilderness and spend some time in nature and not just in front of screens, because this experience [i.e. speaking via Zoom] isn’t exactly edifying. And it’s certainly not making me a better human.”

I totally agree with him. Brands have to leverage the metaverse for good! So how can they be sure to get this right? In the final installment of this series, we will dive into the Dendro blueprint for winning in the metaverse.

At Dendro, we believe that brands are driven by ambitious leaders and ambitious decisions. Sometimes talking the right stand means doing something no one else is doing. Sometimes it means starting a movement, or truly defining a purpose that drives real consumer benefit and improves connected relationships. Ambitious growth is solving brand problems by solving consumer problems, not by finding ways to break through the noise. For more information on how we think, and how we can help please reach out via our website. Wearedendro.com



Leigh Kellogg

Passions include momming, learning, making, and writing. Life motto: Question everything. Website: curiolab-insights.com Social: linkedin.com/in/lkellogg