Clarks enters the metaverse. Here’s why.
According to Tara McRae, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer at Clarks, the decision to enter the metaverse comes with a broader commitment to the brand’s digital transformation. “At Clarks, digital innovation is extremely important to us. Our goal is to connect with our consumers wherever they are,” she says. “The Metaverse is an additional and innovative space to speak to our audience in ways that were never possible before.”
While the metaverse’s combination with the modern Afrobeats scene might not be immediately obvious, it proves to be the perfect intersection between Clarks’ aforementioned desire, the way she interacts with people digitally, and the way for the brand , how musicians have long interacted with the scene, to further develop brand.
James Frapwell, global marketing director for Clarks Originals, Clarks’ iconic desert boot collection, explains: “Clarks has been inextricably linked to a variety of music genres over the decades and we try to connect with each one as authentically as possible. In this case we learned that Fireboy DML was a fan of the brand, in fact he wore Wallabees in one of his earliest music videos and we wanted to find a project to work on together. As discussions with his label Empire developed, we all felt that bringing one of the world’s most explosive genres, Afrobeat, into the metaverse could be exciting. We then worked with Empire to bring Nissi and June Freedom into the mix and create an incredible line-up.”
James describes working with record label Empire Music as “a dream” and a “real collaboration” and they were involved in every step of the creative development of this unusual experience. “From the initial idea to the development of the campaign and live experience, we worked with Empire’s partnerships team,” says James. “From there, we brought in experts in the metaverse realm to turn our ideas into reality.”
However, in order to connect with consumers where they are, it was vital that this outreach wasn’t limited to the handful of digital frontrunners already operating in the metaverse. According to James, this challenge initially proved to be something of a head scratcher.
“One of the first challenges or questions was how to make this live experience available to as many people as possible for free. We spent a lot of time evaluating the various technical and media options for broadcasting the show,” says James. “But above all, the challenges were all exciting. It was a lot of fun doing a live show where you don’t have to deal with physical limitations. We can’t wait for people to see the results.”
According to Tara, this led to the decision to stream the performance live from the Metaverse on YouTube – allowing us to experiment and learn for the future in this burgeoning space, while also creating an accessible experience for today’s most fans.
“When planning this project, we really wanted to push boundaries while making this unique, once-in-a-lifetime virtual concert accessible to a wide audience so everyone could enjoy the experience,” she says. “YouTube is a fantastic platform for delivering video content and LIVE events. It also allows us to track and measure our reach and drive engagement.”
It’s fair to say that after a brief hiatus at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Metaverse has had a somewhat bumpy landing and has been overtaken by AI, which is currently at the peak of the hype cycle. But Tara thinks the metaverse is something marketers should still be preparing for and looking at improving experience and utility.
“We envision the Metaverse becoming a staple in brands’ toolkits – the possibilities are endless, from live performances to online gaming, immersive multimedia experiences, digital showrooms and limited edition NFTs” says Tara. “We believe it is truly a window into the future of fashion and extremely exciting! It is precisely for this reason that we pride ourselves on being one step ahead of the times and constantly developing our commitment in this area for the enjoyment of our consumers.”
So this experience is a valuable learning curve for the brand. Tara says the team will be closely monitoring every possible aspect of the project, from in-performance views to press coverage beforehand and social media interactions. They will closely monitor audience data and track any impact on brand health.
When it comes to Clarks’ digital presence, while they clearly have the long-term future in mind, there is also a more immediate revolution afoot within the brand. “We’re currently going through a technical overhaul of digital commerce,” says Tara. “This makes it easier for consumers to shop at Clarks, while allowing us, as a marketing organization, to share content faster around the world.”
According to Tara, this desire to explore new areas and innovate is as ingrained in the shoe brand’s DNA as its connection to the music world, if not more so.
“At Clarks we are pioneers and innovators. From our very first shoe design, which were slippers made from scraps of sheepskin, to our newly launched Torhill silhouette, innovation and craftsmanship are at the core of everything we do,” she says.
“It doesn’t just stop with the product. We constantly listen to our consumers and respond to their activities and market trends. We continually strive to innovate and are always looking for new and exciting environments in which to test and learn our marketing efforts.
“New digital spaces are really exciting for us as they allow us to speak directly to our consumers in new ways that were previously not possible.”
Ultimately, Tara says, this spirit of innovation and experimentation embedded in the marketing strategy and took it into areas like games and new platforms. And you can bet there’s more in the pipeline.
“Part of our marketing strategy is to leverage and test any new media that resonates with consumers, such as AI, metaverse, gaming, social media innovation, etc. These are all great innovative spaces for us as a brand, and that helps Clarks.” Stay relevant and move with the times,” says Tara. “Watch this room!”