I want to preface this post by saying I will never pretend to understand why corporations do some of the things they do. I was simply minding my own business, looking for information on BMW’s new concept scooter on the German automaker’s press site, when... well, here, look:
“BMW launches new streaming platform JOYTOPIA narrated by Academy Award winning actor Christoph Waltz for the IAA Mobility. Exclusive concert by British band Coldplay pulls back the curtain on a new virtual world.”
And right underneath that:
+++ BMW elevates brand communications to a new level +++ Exclusive concert by Coldplay celebrates the launch of the new JOYTOPIA virtual world +++ New brand channel will remain an integral element of corporate and brand communications beyond the IAA Mobility +++ With JOYTOPIA BMW has created its own metaverse +++
Biiiig exhale. Okay, a few things. First, what in the ever-loving hell? Second, IAA Mobility is the shorthand name for the International Motor Show that kicks off this weekend in Germany. Expect more... regular news from there. Third... a “streaming platform” but also a “metaverse”? Last but not least: “Joytopia,” eh? And in that font?
Listen, I’m sorry, but there’s just no way through this without making you read some excerpts of this press release with me. Down the rabbit hole we go.
Munich. Two days before the opening of the IAA Mobility international motor show taking place in Munich on 7 – 12 September 2021, BMW is unveiling its own, globally unique virtual world: JOYTOPIA. The highlight of the presentation on 5 September will be an exclusive performance by Coldplay. The British band will play a virtual concert on the platform.
JOYTOPIA will provide users with an unprecedented concert experience. As well as being live at the Coldplay performance, fans can also get actively involved in the event via avatars. They will be able to dance along with the music through their invented character, get close to the stage and see the band in action from every angle.
Okay, fine! Honestly, as far as big-ticket promotional brand exercises go, this isn’t so deeply outrageous. It’s like, one step removed from BMW doing a concert in Fortnite or something.
The concert will feature a set list of four Coldplay songs, including their hit “Higher Power” produced exclusively for the BMW Group.
Oh... okay. They paid Coldplay to make a song? That’s already a “hit”? Seems kind of wild. Check this out, it was even used in commercials for some of BMW’s upcoming electric vehicles. In fact, in a June press release, BMW said the song marks the beginning of a “long-term cooperation between BMW and the Warner Music mega-band with sustainability as the unifying element...” — actually, wait, sorry, I can’t jump into another absurd press release or we’ll be here all week. Back to Joytopia.
On 5 September the concert can be enjoyed around the clock.
Is... is that a threat?
“With JOYTOPIA we have created our own metaverse. This sees us responding to the demand from our customers for individualised experiences in the digital space,” says Stefan Ponikva, Vice President Brand Communication and Brand Experience. “We want to open up a new dialogue with audiences that shifts the status quo from brand interpretation to user interpretation. JOYTOPIA is a quantum leap for the digital world. It enables us to take brand communications to a new level,” adds Ponikva. JOYTOPIA is a new marketing instrument for the digital world
“Metaverse,” if you’re not terminally online, is the hot new buzzword du jour, in part because of... Mark Zuckerberg? Again, I do not pretend to understand why corporations do these things or why they feel the need to claim that Coldplay doing a virtual concert inside a modern version of Habbo Hotel or whatever is “a quantum leap for the digital world.” I do know that it only gets weirder from here, though.
JOYTOPIA guests are welcomed to the platform – which boasts impressive visual quality – by a virtual fox and are guided through the surreal worlds. The voice of the fox is that of Hollywood actor Christoph Waltz. “The future is what happens next and it’s entirely up to us to make it enjoyable. This was my first encounter with a metaverse. It’s not called JOYTOPIA for nothing. The joy of… “ says the Academy Award Winner and alludes to the diversity of the virtual world.
I beg you to take some time with each of those sentences. Really soak them up.
The first sentence abruptly introduces the idea that visitors to the Joytopia metaverse will be guided by a virtual fox, but only after BMW apparently feels the need to assure potential visitors that it won’t look like crap?
And then, hey, yeah, Christoph Waltz! Why not? (I mean, maybe there’s a reason if you consider one of his most famous roles alongside certain parts of the company’s history...) What does Christoph have to say about playing a virtual fox? Ah, it will be his experience with a metaverse? Samesies.
What’s that, Christoph? You okay? You just... sort of trailed off there? Hey guys, did we really not get Christoph to finish his thought? Is he being paid by the word or something?
Wait, Christoph — are you okay? Blink your fox eyes twice if you’re trapped in the BMW metaverse with Coldplay. Do we have to come save you? Is that what this is all about?
There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going. There’s no knowing where we’re rowing, or which way the river’s flowing. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a-blowing? Not a speck of light is showing so the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a-glowing? Is the grizzly reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing so the rowers keep on rowing, and they’re certainly not showing any signs that they are slowing!
Just making sure you’re still with me. Actually, Christoph Waltz would make a good Willy Wonka now that I think about it...
JOYTOPIA users will have fun navigating their way independently through three unique worlds as an avatar, using a map and signposts for help. The avatars can run, hop or fly, and users can choose their form and colour. Similarly to other gaming consoles, JOYTOPIA allows users to interact with other avatars and wave at them, for example. At public events, users can also create their own spaces. Selfies are possible, too, and can be posted directly to social media.
Something about the way “Selfies are possible, too” is thrown in there really bums me out, but I haven’t been able to crack why. But yeah, sure, again, kinda just sounds a lot like a concert in Fortnite when you strip away all the gauzy language, doesn’t it? I get that BMW apparently paid some firm to create this bespoke metaverse, but we can’t really say how different Joytopia will be until the site... sorry, metaverse... or was it streaming platform?... launches. Until then, goodness gracious, look at what’s there now:
Indeed. Why are we here? I guess we’ll find out when Coldplay takes the stage. See you in Joytopia.