- Axe partnered with a leading Fortnite content creator to design a custom island in the online shooter game, according to news shared with Marketing Dive. Atlas Creative Studios assisted on the effort, which goes live today (June 15).
- The concept was inspired by social conversations around how an in-game item, a healing spray called Med Mist, appears similar to Axe body spray. Following that lead, the Unilever grooming brand connected with streamer Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf to build the “Mistaverse,” a parcel of virtual land.
- On the Mistaverse island, visitors can participate in Fortnite activities like playing capture the flag, collecting Med Mist cans with different power-ups and uncovering a variety of Easter eggs. The activation shows Axe relying on the gaming know-how — and large audience — of an established creator to lend its strategy more credibility.
Axe is having a bit of fun with the metaverse craze with its custom Fortnite island. The brand likely assessed that the game was a good fit for its audience thanks to social listening insights that uncovered existing conversations that equated a fan-favorite item to its own products. Gaming — and Fortnite, in particular — is also dominant with the male teen crowd to which the Unilever marketer caters.
The Mistaverse was not developed or endorsed by Fortnite developer Epic Games, a change of pace from how some brands approach the multiplayer title. Instead, Axe linked with a well-known streamer and esports professional to design the space, speaking to how marketers increasingly rely on creators to execute experiences that read as authentic. Bugha won the inaugural Fortnite World Cup Championship in 2019, securing a $3 million prize, and currently boasts more than 25 million followers across social channels.
Axe has sprinkled a variety of activities and secrets around the Mistaverse to try and make the island more engaging and potentially encourage repeat visits. Easter eggs include a Jolly Roger that appears to nod to the anime and manga series “One Piece”; a rocket sticker bearing “To the moooon” text referencing a popular phrase in the cryptocurrency community; and a tired-looking deodorant cartridge with “Mold Spice” branding, an obvious swipe at chief competitor Old Spice.
The Fortnite effort fits with Unilever’s evolving strategy around gaming. The packaged goods giant operates a Uplay unit that’s ramped up activity since the start of the pandemic, a catalyst for accelerated gaming adoption. Uplay attempts to link gaming concepts like microtransactions and digital avatars — both common in Fortnite — to initiatives around e-commerce, another channel that’s exploded during the health crisis.
“We see gaming as the center of community, culture and commerce,” Willem Dinger, global director of sponsorships at Unilever, said during an Interactive Advertising Bureau event around gaming in April.
Marketers also increasingly view gaming as a key building block of the metaverse, though Axe falls shy of explicitly billing the Mistaverse as such. As a more well-realized metaverse remains far off, online platforms like Fortnite and Roblox continue to command the most attention from brands. Timberland last week unveiled a custom Fortnite island equipped with a virtual iteration of its real-world design lab and a number of biomes for users to explore wearing experimental Metaboots. The outdoor apparel brand worked with Epic Games on the push.