Last night, I was notified that a local Finnish food brand – HK – has announced they are jumping into the metaverse. You can read the press release in English here.
“Okay, this should be interesting,” was my first thought upon seeing the title. Let’s first highlight what this seems to be about.
Within the press release, in prominent bold typeface, it’s stated that – and I quote – “HK jumps into the metaverse and launches a virtual mettwurst.” Fair enough – thinking outside the box and creating creative ways to pitch your product. Which, in this case, is mettwurst – the salty, processed sausage which is usually manufactured from pork, cow, horse, or reindeer meat. I’m not a huge fan, but it’s fine in moderation.
Upon gazing back into the announcement, I wonder, what and how can I access this promised metaverse? Hold on, what do you consider a metaverse? Eagle-eyed readers of my blog might recall an opinion piece I wrote last year, stating I don’t understand the metaverse. I tried to define the metaverse, and even the greatest minds at Meta, Apple, and Microsoft weren’t agreeing on what it is – beyond selling AR/VR equipment to join a multiplayer roleplaying game.
So, has HK, the food manufacturer, found a niche here – a real metaverse that I could readily join – perhaps with my phone or AR/MR/VR glasses and.. collaborate on mettwurst? I would imagine it would be a considerable undertaking for two reasons. Meta has poured billions into their metaverse dream and has little to show. And HK’s primary business is not building consumer-grade online services, either.
Back to the press release from HK. What and where is the metaverse? Turns out, there isn’t one. Surprise. There are, however, a few NFTs – pictures of mettwurst essentially – being hustled via the OpenSea marketplace. And that seems to be it, at least when writing this. You can view it here. Just in case this piece of Internet cultural history ever vanishes, here is a screenshot:
A close-up of a mettwurst NFT:
The auction for these fine art pieces commenced on March 1, 2023, and concludes by the end of March. Fair enough.
The press release also points to a Finnish landing site, https://metavursti.fi/. It’s a nifty wordplay on the words
meetvursti. The site has links to the OpenSea marketplace and something that states, “See in AR.” Perhaps herein, I will find the metaverse?
That link takes you to https://www.instagram.com/ar/609413690979156/. INSTAGRAM? you say. Yes.
It’s a picture of the product, again. I guess it’s one of those NFTs. It’s not evident, but underneath the picture, there’s a text asking me to open this on my phone:
After a bit of fiddling, the Instagram app allows me to open the same page within the app. It brings me to a selfie camera view. I switch to the actual camera on my phone, and I get a floating, animated mettvurst on the screen.
But hold on, you say. This isn’t the metaverse? This is plain old AR. And that’s not the same thing as a metaverse.
It seems HK, the company pitching this, has fallen into the fallacy of association – and in the process, they are gleefully mixing Web3, metaverse, NFTs, virtual reality, and augmented reality. I expected to see bitcoins and blockchains mentioned, but they were missing this time.
[ Edit Mar 02, 1:53 pm: I found the word ‘blockchain’ casually thrown in one of the screenshots, so the royal flush of hyped-up words is complete! ]
It’s funny but also a bit of a tragedy. From a marketing perspective, this is decent – someone wanted to try something new – great! I applaud them for that. But from a broader perspective, this is just throwing acronyms and tech terms in an alphabet soup and hoping to extract value by claiming something was done when it wasn’t. To back up the claim, there’s a quote from Gartner in the announcement. You can never go wrong when you quote Gartner.
For the next time, please, try to stick to facts and leave the hustle and hype to someone else.
I work with Azure and frequently write about my experiences. I’m a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, ex-MSFT. Based in Helsinki, Finland.