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Following the team’s nomination at this year’s Licensing International Excellence Awards, Wrist World tell us about the origins of their Miku band – and the brands they’re looking to collaborate with moving forward.
Guys, it’s great to catch up! Before we bring the Wrist World team in, Max – as the licensing agent for Miku – can you tell us about the virtual singer, her brand values and why she connects with fans?
Max Arguile, Owner, Reemsborko: Hatsune Miku is all about creativity – whether that be making music or art, the fans are always encouraged to be creative and to share what they have made.
Since the first version of the vocal software was released in 2007, fans have been creating songs and uploading videos that feature the music and words that they wrote – with singing provided by Miku and the other five digital avatars. These six virtual pop stars have thereby grown a following of fans in all territories.
Alongside fan content there is a huge amount of professionally produced media too. For example, on Spotify you will find over 100 official albums made by the best producers and musicians in Japan. There’s also a live show – MIKU EXPO – which tours the world.
A live show starring a virtual singer… How does it work?
MA: It has Miku and her colleagues performing as projections on a screen onstage, surrounded by live musicians. The last such tour had five dates in Europe in early 2020, and they were also due to perform at Coachella before the pandemic hit. This year there was an online concert that was funded by Kickstarter. It set its goal at $250K and the fans very quickly stumped up more than double that amount.
It is a very inclusive community. The fans love to meet up and collaborate, so we’re all looking forward to the new tour, whenever that happens.
Braden, let’s bring you in! You’re CEO at Wrist World, a company that creates augmented reality-infused watches. Tell us more!
Braden Breinholt, CEO, Wrist World: The core concept of Wrist World is exactly how it sounds, an entire world right on your wrist. The way we achieve that is really interesting though. We use a combination of augmented reality and slap bands to create this entire world that you can collect, explore, and even save right on your wrist in an almost holographic fashion.
Now, I should pause things here to mention that you and your team are still at High School… I suddenly feel inadequate! How did you all come together to launch the concept?
BB: We all met at an entrepreneurial camp and were given the idea of creating a real technology-based start-up. We all had to write our own resumes and apply. Our team then developed the product concept while learning how to 3D model, do light coding and app development. Three years into the project, we now have very competent 3D modellers, marketers, artists and developers who are mainly High School age by now, but all started as middle school students.
Remarkable! Aiden, let’s fire this one at you: how did the Wrist World team connect with Miku? What made the brand appeal?
Aiden Strother, Art Director, Wrist World: Wrist World connected with Miku at the 2020 New York International Toy Fair through Max. He thought Miku would be a good fit because we projected virtual characters with the augmented reality technology, and Miku is often projected onto stage in her concerts – and we agreed with him!
“The core concept of Wrist World is exactly how it sounds, an entire world right on your wrist.”
I imagine Max has been in licensing before any of the Wrist World team were born… There’s a sobering thought! Let’s move on quickly; Connor, you’re Chief Product Officer at Wrist World. Talk us through the Miku Wrist World band. How does it work?
Connor Davis, Chief Product Officer, Wrist World: The Hatsune Miku wristband unlocks Miku in the overall game. Once you activate the Miku wristband, the Miku character becomes playable on all the other bands. This can be done in two ways: Wrist Mode and Game Mode.
In game mode – where a player puts the band flat on a table – the player explores an RPG world that spans across the other four wristbands. Along the way, they can collect dances and abilities for Miku, while playing as her chibi character. They can also collect objects that allow Miku to do stage performances at special locations in the RPG world.
In wrist mode – in which the player wears the wristband – the player can show off all the abilities they’ve collected for Miku, with a large holographic 3D Miku. She even sings new songs created specifically for Wrist World.
Fans have been a big part of the success of this collaboration. Talk us through how they’ve embraced the product.
Emma Wheelbarger, Chief Marketing Officer, Wrist World: Fans have been a huge part in our success and to give you an idea of how they have embraced the product, let me bring you back to how it all started.
We decided to sponsor an ad in the biggest Hatsune Miku event of the yea, the Miku 2021 online Expo. Our ad was zero budget, but somehow, it ended up being the highlight ad of the Miku Expo. Fans loved it so much that it went viral on multiple social media platforms like Twitch and Twitter.
At the beginning, fans were asking others to make Wrist World a trend and even started making their own fan art with hand drawn images of Miku on a Wrist World band. One fan even made a magazine cover with the words of our ad. To top it all off, there were tons of fans posting cosplay pictures with their new band.
It was such an amazing experience for our team, especially being kids running a business, and we are so grateful to our fans. You could say the fans are 100% the driver behind our product becoming known and loved.
Yes, it sounds like it’s really resonated. Great stuff. Looking ahead, are these kinds of brand collaborations a big focus for Wrist World moving forward?
Katie Sparks, Chief Financial Officer, Wrist World: Brand partnerships and licensing deals are a big part of our future plans for Wrist World. When we attend the Dallas Toy Fair this year, our focus will be pursuing additional licensing partnerships.
Initially we believe niche licences like Miku will play an important role in the continued expansion of our product. This will allow us to attract wildly different demographics, simply by making branded wristbands that unlock new characters on the original four bands.
Over time, we’d love to explore bigger brand partnerships such as Marvel, Disney and DC – but one step at a time! Right now, we’re super focused on the incredibly creative and dedicated Miku fan base that we love so much!
Our next expansion is actually adding additional Crypton characters to the existing bands. We cannot wait to feature more beloved characters as part of Wrist World!
Guys, thank you so much for taking time out for this. And to be doing what you’re doing at your age is remarkable, so I’m sure you’ll be swamped at Dallas with people wanting to catch up. Let’s speak again soon!
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