What social media lessons can we take from Fortnite and Marshmello

Last weekend saw the latest example of what we at digital marketing, branding and social media agency Smoking Gun have started to call ‘pure next level stuff’. If you missed it allow us to quickly recap.

US EDM producer Marshmello performed a concert with a difference over the weekend. He used virtual gaming world ‘Fortnite’ as a venue, performing a VR show for millions to tune into via live broadcast.

This was followed by countless YouTube reviews and recaps. Not to mention stacks of social media commentary and posts circulated in real time and retrospectively.

If you’re looking for a slice of live pop culture guaranteed to divide younger digital natives from older members of society, then this is it.

Many adults won’t know of ‘Fortnite’, let alone a recording artist who wears a giant white bin on his head with crosses for eyes.

Clearly it’s a bold marketing stunt on the part of both the game developers and the musician in question. But more than a mere gimmick, it’s something we could well be set to see much more of in the near future. After all, we have seen it happen several times in the recent past.

Grand Theft Auto and before

Last summer another game, ‘Grand Theft Auto Online: After Hours’, announced it would host DJ sets from high profile dance music faces. ‘Minecraft’ teamed with Coachella Festival in 2018 for another virtual live stream. Five years earlier, record label Monstercat hosted a live charity festival within the same game. All of which were predated by ‘Second Life”s countless virtual gigs in the noughties.

Is virtual immersive the new experiential?

As our Marketing To Millennials free download guide explains, experiential marketing has risen to become one of the most successful means of spreading the word about a new service, product or brand.

So is a virtual immersive experience set to become the new experiential? Well, potentially yes but also probably no. On the one hand, fans pay to attend gigs and festivals in the real world because that means they share the same physical space as their idols. Virtual gigs and experiences do not allow for this.

Having said that, as pressure mounts on events to tackle sustainability and environmental issues new ideas will begin to take hold. According to some figures, 50%-80% of CO2 emissions from festivals come from travel, including artist flights. Virtual reality could offer an alternative that doesn’t have such a significant impact.

Ready Player One

Of course as technology improves and digital realms become more convincing trends could shift in favour of immersive virtual events.

Stephen Spielberg’s recent movie, ‘Ready Player One,’ proposes an Earth decimated by economic strife. Meanwhile, a VR game has grown to such an extent it harbours an entire economic system. People work, gamble and strive for success within the game. Their success therein impacts life outside the gaming environment.

Naturally, then, the game itself is littered with brand activations, promotions, sponsorships and partnerships. Those elements are already beginning to experiment with VR opportunities in real life, giving marketers plenty to think about for their own campaigns.

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