Why Vans is launching a skateboarding world inside of Roblox
Starting Tuesday, Roblox’s 46 million daily active users will be able to enter the world of Vans via an interactive, 3D environment that will allow them to perfect their ollie, kickflip off a half-pipe, and design their own pair of Vans silhouettes and skateboards. A partnership between the wildly popular video game platform and the action sports brand, Vans World is the latest marketing marriage between Roblox and a growing number of companies looking to connect with young audiences where they’re spending most of their time.
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Over the last several months, Sony Music Entertainment, BMG, Warner Bros., Hasbro, and even Gucci have all joined forces with Roblox. The platform has exploded during the pandemic, as the world’s population of kids and teens have been logging more and more time on screens. The company, which went public in March and has a valuation of $45 billion, saw its daily active users shoot up 85% year-over-year in 2020.
The collaboration with Vans is unique, however, in that Vans World isn’t a one-off marketing stint that will disappear in a matter of days or weeks like the Gucci Garden, where a virtual bag sold for over $4,000 (more than what the IRL version of the bag sells for) before the weeks-long experience ended. And musical performances like the Lil Nas X live virtual concert, which drew over 36 million people, are just that: events.
In contrast, Vans World will live on indefinitely in the “metaverse”—as the constellation of 20 million-plus games or “experiences” on the Roblox platform is known—showing how brands are thinking about how to integrate with Roblox in a more organic and long-term way.
“We didn’t build this to be there for two weeks,” says Julia Patkowski, senior manager of global brand digital marketing at Vans. “We plan on building and learning from the community and updating it and creating a true, unique experience that evolves with what we hear from the community.”
Christina Wootton, vice president of brand partnerships at Roblox, echoes this. “Brands should be thinking about this as you do with social media. You launch a channel on social platforms and you don’t just post once and expect your followers to stay there and be engaged. You really have to think of it as a commitment.