Need to Know
17 : 09 : 21

Vans’ virtual skating universe for Roblox players, Saudi Arabia unveils a carbon credit system and a growing number of US men are skipping higher education.

Vans builds an interactive skatepark within Roblox

Vans World by Vans and Roblox

US – Tuning into a growing interest in gaming, the skatewear brand has launched an immersive 3D environment within video game Roblox. The skatepark-style space, Vans World, will live indefinitely within the Roblox metaverse, allowing players to continuously interact with Vans – and with their peers – through this virtual environment.

Responding to the creative interests of young people, Vans also allows users to design their own Vans shoes and skateboards for their in-game avatars. 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.

By occupying space within the Roblox metaverse, Vans sets an example of how brands can creatively connect with audiences in virtual realms.

Strategic opportunity

Fashion and lifestyle brands can draw inspiration from this activation and take up space within similar metaverse platforms. Look beyond fleeting initiatives and instead create adaptive, long-term and interactive virtual environments

Olay’s coding campaign rewires beauty biases

#DecodetheBias by Olay in partnership with Algorithmic Justice League #DecodetheBias by Olay in partnership with Algorithmic Justice League
#DecodetheBias by Olay in partnership with Algorithmic Justice League #DecodetheBias by Olay in partnership with Algorithmic Justice League

US – The beauty brand is partnering with digital advocacy organisation Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) to tackle racial bias in online spaces. For its #DecodetheBias campaign, running as part of the US’ National Coding Week, the brand will send more than 1,000 young girls to learn coding skills with non-profit organisation Black Girls Code.

Recognising that beauty algorithms often exclude women of colour, the campaign is therefore supporting diverse communities in Reclaiming Black Beauty. ‘#DecodetheBias highlights one major issuehow data, computer code and AI reinforce exclusionary beauty standards and exclude women of colour,’ explains a statement on Olay’s website. ‘These algorithmic systems rule our world and we have to ensure these systems are not continuing to perpetuate harmful forms of bias and discrimination.’

As global brands increasingly prioritise diversity and inclusion as a core business concern, such initiatives showcase practical efforts that go beyond meaningless virtue signalling.

Strategic opportunity

Across sectors, brands should take cues from this initiative and actively address the inequalities that infiltrate digital mediums from social media filters to search engine results. Create awareness-building campaigns that call out such biases

Saudi Arabia introduces carbon credits in climate push

Saudi ArabiaAs part of the country’s ongoing climate efforts, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and investment bank Saudi Tadawul Group are launching a voluntary exchange programme for carbon credits. The Riyadh Voluntary Exchange Platform will form the primary destination for companies and institutes across the SWANA region that are actively reducing their carbon emissions.

This initiative follows other eco-conscious plans in the region, such as the development of Saudi Arabia’s zero-energy megacity. Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, explains: Looking at the exemplary projects we are working on, which generate their supply of energy from renewable sources and utilise sustainable material, we have developed deep knowledge on how to contribute to this cause adequately.

By tracking carbon emissions in this way, Saudi Arabia shows how urban areas can collectively work towards greener and more equitable environments. Discover more initiatives in this vein within Equilibrium Cities.

 Invocation for Hope by Superflux

Strategic opportunity

Brands and organisations across sectors have an opportunity to address climate concerns at a structural level. Financial institutions have a responsibility to actively support and incentivise businesses to reduce their carbon emissions

Stat: Fewer men are enrolling in higher education

YSM8 founded by Poonam Dhuffer YSM8 founded by Poonam Dhuffer

In the US, the number of men’s college applications is falling while women account for a larger proportion of higher education students. According to research by the National Student Clearinghouse, the rise in women’s applications comes despite an overall decline in college and university enrolment.

The organisation’s data shows that women now make up almost 60% of US college students, even amid a fall in overall higher education registrations of 1.5m in the past five years. Interestingly, men account for 71% of this decline in students, despite making up 51% of the US population. Reflecting on this shift, men have cited the high cost of education and the lack of return on investment as reasons for not enrolling at college (source: The Wall Street Journal).

This behavioural change reflects new directions in the future of masculinity, as men opt for alternative routes to their desired careers.

Strategic opportunity

Educational institutions should try to mitigate these concerns around return on investment through positive communications. There is an opportunity for brands to support here too, offering career guidance at early stages of education

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