When Meta went through its rebrand in October, there were questions about how much of the technology was ready for mass adoption or if the dream of alternate digital realities was still a pipe dream. Questy’s is a destination in Meta Horizon Worlds, the virtual reality setting that is controlled by the users who inhabit it. Meta is hoping Super Bowl viewers go to Questy’s, which will be a portal to games and other activities in Horizon. Meta’s VR playground is similar to Roblox or The Sandbox, in that everyday creators can build their own neighborhoods and activities.
People are recreating their childhood homes and setting up laser tag on the moon, said Dave Kaufman, global director of marketing for Meta Quest and metaverse. The imaginative construction inspired the Super Bowl ad. Meta’s marketing team detected a trend that people were not just designing futuristic landscapes. “One of the behaviors that we saw in Horizon Worlds, which is our new social sandbox,” Kaufman said, “is that we saw people building the places from their past.”
The trailer for Questy’s shows that Meta is going for an emotional response from the audience, bringing people into a place that is reminiscent of childhood and inviting people to hang out. The concept combines Facebook’s social media past with a fresher setting.
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The commercial is for Meta Quest 2 devices, which have been gaining momentum among consumers. Over the holidays, the Oculus app, which was the old name for the device and software, shot to No. 1 on Apple’s download charts, suggesting more mainstream adoption. Meta has not disclosed recent usage stats for VR, but market research firm IDC estimated close to 7 million Meta Quest devices sold last year. Meta’s apps, including Facebook and Instagram, have 3.6 billion monthly users.
The Super Bowl commercial could be seen as a metaphor beckoning those users, and perhaps lapsed Facebook users, to reconnect in this new, more dynamic world. Facebook has had a rough two years since its last Super Bowl commercial. There have been questions about the integrity and safety of social media, and fairly or not, Facebook has received the brunt of criticism over an uncivil atmosphere in older corners of the internet.
Facebook has been viewed as catering to an aging audience, while new apps like TikTok have clicked with younger audiences. The Meta Quest ad is a chance to show there is excitement building in virtual reality, where there are a host of new rivals cropping up. There are startups designing NFTs, augmented reality apps and gaming worlds.
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The Super Bowl campaign will kick off a larger marketing push, designed to spur adoption of Meta Quest and the apps ecosystem, which features games and other media.
With the Super Bowl ad, Meta is “showing that VR is this uniquely social experience,” Kaufman said. It’s the “foundation of what will become the metaverse.”
The ad also celebrates the community of virtual builders in Horizon Worlds. The characters, who will ultimately be shown in the Questy’s restaurant, are the avatars of members of the community, Kaufman said. They also created an animatronic house band for Questy’s, including an eight-foot tall pink alien. The band is behind the original song that plays briefly in the trailer, but Meta did not disclose more details about the song or the characters.
“It’s the first Super Bowl spot you’ll actually be able to walk into,” Kantor said.