Marketing assets

Pizza Hut, Jimmy John’s Ties Early Metaverse Experiences to Real-World Rewards

Diving brief:

  • Jimmy John’s and Pizza Hut joined others in the restaurant category in dipping their toes into the metaverse, per separate press releases emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • Pizza chain Yum Brands is taking its first steps into the concept of ComplexLand, a virtual shopping experience that runs May 25-27. The company has teamed up with artist Rob Shields to design custom delivery vehicles, delivery driver avatars, and nine non-fungible tokens (NFTS) that embody cyberpunk themes. Skeleton Drivers will accept submissions for a chance to win one of the NFTs, each unlocking a year of free pizza.
  • Jimmy John’s worked with agency Anomaly to create an interactive version of a restaurant in Decentraland. There, users can create a custom “Metasandwich” that can be ordered for real-world pickup and submitted for review to become a real menu item for a limited time. Both activations show how marketers are focusing on integrating rewards into their metaverse experiences as the novelty of digital experiences begins to wane.

Overview of the dive:

Jimmy John’s and Pizza Hut’s first forays into the metaverse go beyond simply performing a virtual activation to instead offering tangible incentives to consumers. As the metaverse has risen to industry buzzword status over the past year, marketing efforts have proliferated, but have also faded together.

At the same time, the value of assets adjacent to the metaverse as NFTs and cryptocurrencies plunged, meaning there could be more of an uphill battle to garner interest in the current environment. The promise of free pizza for a year or having a custom sandwich order added to the menu for a limited time could help win over skeptics. Moving into the digital sphere also unlocks benefits that might be harder to come by in real life.

By making Jimmy John’s Metasandwiches, for example, users can add “secret ingredients” like cookies without being noticed by other diners. The Decentraland Restaurant also offers exclusive promo codes and access to Jimmy John merchandise. Custom sandwiches can be submitted until May 22 to be judged. The winning idea will be delivered to the first 100 people who order it from May 31 to June 3, Jimmy John’s said.

Pizza Hut is building on the hype around an existing metaverse event with ComplexLand, a commerce-focused experience entering its third year. The free online gathering hosted by publisher Complex this year will allow for first-person exploration and will include an NFT gallery curated by Lil Miquela, a virtual influencer. Pizza Hut has deployed its delivery vehicles and their cyberpunk-inspired drivers to various locations in space, mirroring how a brand might promote itself at a real-world pop-up or festival.

Recent restaurant category metaverse activations have proven popular. In March, Wendy’s launched a “Wendyverse” effort where consumers could explore a virtual restaurant in Horizon Worlds, the Meta-owned virtual reality platform. It reached 52 million users, Meta executives said.

As metaverse strategies continue to be ironed out, the intended audience is clear. Pizza Hut cited a recent study by Vice Media Group and Razorfish that found Gen Zers spend twice as much time socially interacting in the metaverse than they do in real life.