Blurring boundaries with technologies: The ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ in mega-events
Lawrence Chia
Chairman, Pico Group

The rise and rise of the metaverse continues, sparking a renewed fascination with technology in general – and especially hardware associated with the metaverse, such as headsets. According to research led by KPMG International, more than 60% of the interviewees stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled them to accelerate their digital transformation, while more than 80% of the surveyed companies are investing or planning to invest in emerging technologies. Such results underscore the important role of technology in business development. Increasingly, mega-events too have mastered the art of using technology to integrate real and virtual worlds – and for brands, their examples are often worth consideration.

Expo 2025 Osaka will not only feature robots, AI and flying cars, but a ‘Virtual Osaka’ metaverse platform as a pre-promotion. Users will be able to use VR headsets and virtual avatars to watch performances, cheer with glowsticks in hand, and explore Osaka, enjoying experiences that are not only unique, but impossible in reality. These features connect audiences worldwide to the Expo, extending its reach as well as effectively promoting the region and the event itself for real-life travel and an ultimate boost to the local economy.

Other recent mega-events in Japan made their own applications of cutting-edge technology. During the Tokyo Olympics last year, Coca-Cola’s ‘Team Coca-Cola Play Nation’, a mobile application combining brand and Olympic elements, allowed users to form communities as they teamed up with friends and joined games like the virtual torch relay. Points earned through gameplay could be exchanged for rewards such as virtual meet-and-greets with Olympic and Paralympic athletes during the Games. These kinds of personalised entertainment helped the brand draw fan attention and extend its reach.

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl made a wise use of technology by offering fans custom NFT Super Bowl tickets that listed their section, row and seat. The tickets thus not only served as personal souvenirs, but also brought the event into the wider metaverse ecosystem while receiving considerable publicity and attracted NFT lovers to the event.

Wise use of tech can boost audience enthusiasm, and there is no better stage than mega-events to show it at its most advanced. Marketers should pay close attention to the technologies applied in these events and adopt them as appropriate for brand activation.

The full insights article was originally published in Headline Finance on 10 August 2022 (in Chinese only).

Source: Headline Finance (web version), 10 August 2022