Heineken has created a virtual beer, in a publicity stunt it said was intended to highlight the strengths and limitations of the “metaverse”.
The company said the launch was an “ironic joke”.
It launched Heineken Silver in Decentraland, a virtual world owned by its users, inviting real-life journalists to a virtual press conference where participants were represented by avatars.
The beer was introduced as having “no calories, no hidden ingredients – and no beer”.
An avatar of sportsman Thierry Henri demonstrated one practical use for the virtual beer can, juggling it in the air like a football.
The event, held at a virtual brewery constructed in Decentraland for the occasion, featured virtual lobster and caviar and a hip-hop dance performance.
Users can visit the virtual brewery, designed in partnership with Spanish street artist J. Demsky, to experience the non-beer. The virtual space includes brewing tanks, a DJ booth, dance floor and a bar.
“I hope people love my interpretation of what virtual Heineken Silver could be like if it had flavour,” Demsky said.
Heineken said Silver is brewed using “binary-coded hops grown by NPC (non-player character) farmers”.
“We know that the metaverse brings people together in a light-hearted and immersive way but it’s just not the best place to taste a new beer,” said Heineken global head of brand Bram Westenbrink.
“Our new virtual beer is an ironic joke. It is a self-aware idea that pokes fun at us and many other brands that are jumping into the metaverse with products that are best enjoyed in the real world.
“For now, you can’t taste pixels and bytes. So, we want to make a joke about that and remind everyone that nothing beats the taste of a refreshing beer, including our new virtual Heineken Silver, in the real world.”
Facebook last year rebranded to Meta and said it plans to invest billions in building immersive virtual worlds that can be accessed via headsets.
In December Nike bought virtual shoe company RTFKT for an undisclosed sum, saying it was looking to “serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture”.
Meta has filed patent applications indicating it plans to operate virtual shops selling digital goods in its meta-spaces.
Investment bank JP Morgan Chase opened a virtual lounge in Decentraland earlier this month, saying it said it believes the metaverse will eventually be a trillion-dollar industry. The installation features a spiral staircase, a “live” tiger and an illuminated portrait of chief executive Jamie Dimon.
Last week HSBC joined in with a virtual environment in the Sandbox virtual world.
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