Niantic’s first-ever branded ad offers a glimpse of its metaverse vision
Before Faceboo, uh, Meta and Microsoft unveiled their high-profile and ambitious visions of the Metaverse in October, Niantic Founder and CEO John Hanke wrote a corporate blog post titled, “The Metaverse is a Dystopian Nightmare.” . Let’s build a better reality. In it, the company leader behind augmented reality games Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Main entrance says too much of the conversation and vision around the Metaverse is focused on escaping the real world in favor of a virtual world. “We think we can use technology to look at the ‘reality’ of augmented reality, by encouraging everyone, including ourselves, to get up, walk outside and connect with people and the world. world around us, ”Hanke wrote. “Technology should be used to enhance these fundamental human experiences, not to replace them.”
Niantic is now launching its very first brand campaign to bring this vision to life. Ditching National Hiking Day to get a more precise point, the company aims to harness the collective power of its games and remind people that there is a company with its own unique vision behind them, one that sees the potential. of technology outside in the real world.
Niantic’s Global Product Marketing Director Archit Bhargava says from a marketing perspective, the company, which started at Google in 2010 and became an independent company in 2015, has traditionally invested in the creation of its gaming brands, such as the recently launched Pikmin Bloom. “Deep down, we’ve always thought about and talked about Niantic having that backseat as a company facilitating these products,” Bhargava said. Launched in 2016, Pokémon Go, for example, became a worldwide success and had a turnover of $ 6 billion. “Especially now, with so many conversations about the Metaverse and spending more time in these virtual worlds, we felt it was even more important for us to express our point of view. We wanted to find a way to do it in a stylish and energetic way.
Created with the Gravity Road agency, the spot opens with a specter of shadow in the air, first above a suburban street, then a rainy night in town, then an apartment window. flooded with sunlight. You can’t quite figure out what it is, but it’s big. It catches people’s attention as they work at their desks, watch TV, lie in bed. This prompts them to take action. When ready, their game handles flash above them, hero-like. Then, they venture into city streets, parks and more, while video game prompts grab their attention. Bumblebee Transformers appears on a street corner. Pikachu is on a girl’s shoulder. It culminates with a crowd climbing a grassy hill, city steps, and apartment roofs until the camera moves upward to reveal an airship – the Niantic logo – flying like the beacon they were following.
Bhargava says augmented reality is intentionally subtle because they didn’t want to obscure how great the real world is. “The idea was, what if this ship called people on the outside like an optimistic ice cream truck,” he says.
Although long overdue, the timing, when it comes to how the Metaverse has exploded into the larger cultural conversation right now, couldn’t be better. The company is also taking the opportunity to invite developers into the fold of its new Lightship platform, an augmented reality development kit launched last week to give developers access to Niantic tools to create their own experiences. .
The new ad was actually created inside Entrance, accessible to in-game markers (or “portals”) at various physical geographic locations where players can access the in-game inventory. The spot also includes several Easter Eggs that fans of its games can find and use to access to exclusive merchandise and tickets to Niantic events.
Ultimately, the new campaign is yet another parent company hoping to remind people that there is a name behind the names they already know. Witness every P&G announcement ever made. Or how Sony has long sought to show off all of its gaming characters as roommates under one corporate roof. What makes Niantic a little different is that this campaign serves not only as a reminder of what it is, but in the context of the larger metaverse, what it is not.
Bhargava says that too much of the conversation about the Metaverse revolves around a general acceptance that much of the future will happen in a virtual environment and that the real world is something we’ve given up on. “We are absolutely against it,” he said. “We’re focused on a future where technology and our tools can be a layer above reality – be additive, be subtle, and that’s what we want to represent in this vision. “