If there's one brand that can quash misinformation seeping across the digital world and into the nascent metaverse, it's ... Steak-umm?
Um, sure! The CPG stalwart has served as an unlikely guardian of truth before. And now, as the U.S. midterm election season approaches its crescendo, everyone's favorite purveyor of thinly sliced frozen frozen beef, with help from creative agency Tombras, launches a "Meataversity" dedicated to the veracity of digital content and teaching users how to spot semi-truths, lies and damn lies online.
Led by agency CTO Juan Tubert, the agency team worked with Dr. Eric Haley, a professor at the University of Tennessee's Tombras School of ADPR, to design the experience. It resides in the 3D virtual realm known as Decentraland, with a goal of "teaching people to critically think and navigate the complexities of the metaverse with healthy skepticism."
The self-aware welcome video below presents serious subject matter with a cheeky touch as it lays out the Meataversity mission. You host: some academic dude with a Steak-umm boxhead, who warns against A.I. deep fakes, bogus news, crypto wallet scams and deceptive political messaging.
Users can matriculate, as it were, through this website. The curriculum includes deep-dive lectures on how to analyze various types of information, and successful completion of the course yields an NFT diploma. (A B.S. in spotting B.S., they say.) Extras include QR codes for free Steak-umm, plus avatar wearables such as T-shirts, school crests and boxheads. (No keggers, though. That's how you know it's just a virtual campus.)
"Steak-umm has broken through before by getting real about serious topics, plus we've made a name for the brand by helping fight misinformation on Web 2.0 and social media," agency president Dooley Tombras tells Muse. "We saw news starting to break about misinformation spreading in the metaverse, so we knew it was our time to act."
That's noble, for sure. But how does Steak-umm benefit?
"When you're a CPG brand, you're really talking to anyone with a mouth—so, everyone," Tombras says. "And misinformation impacts everyone. Obviously, this idea is super-serving Steak-umm superfans, but we hope it's a creative enough take on a big enough topic that we'll break through to an even bigger audience. The real takeaway is a nod to the absurdity of a 100-percent real frozen beef brand having to be the one to educate the world about such a serious topic."
He adds: "Consumers expect more from brands now. They want to support organizations who stand up for the same things they do. It's a values match that's become a huge deciding factor for most consumers. The aim for this particular work wasn't to take a side [left or right]. Misinformation isn't relegated to one side or the other."
Jeff Benjamin, Chief Creative Officer
Morgan Crego McLees, VP, Creative Director
Patrick Tice, Creative Director
Matt Butler, Assoc. Creative Director
Scott McIntosh, Sr. Social Media Art Director
Harrison McNeill, Social Media Copywriter
Angie Burton, Sr. Creative Project Manager
Lindsay Stein, Chief Purpose Officer
Production Company - Tombras Studios
Editorial - Tombras Studios
Chad Hopenwasser, Chief Production Officer
Taylor Walters, Executive Producer
Renee Safir, Producer
Jasmine Fox, Producer
Dominic Giordano, Director
Stephen Vaughn, Sr. Editor
Juan Tubert, Chief Technology Officer
Eric Andrade, Executive Delivery Director in Development
Matt Lynberg, Technical Director
Chris Hill, Assoc. Director of Digital Project Management
Matt Jenkins, Web Developer
Eric Keiser, QA Engineer
Elsa Güereña, Sr Digital Creative Project Manager
Walker Reed, Digital Design Director
Jay Flood III, Sr. Digital Designer
Denice Heyward, SVP, Director of Business Affairs
Joseph Delerme, Business Affairs Director