Metaverse & NFT are catching the imagination of people around the world. While the early adopters are making inroads into this lesser-known territory, it is largely an unexplored landscape with uncertainty & scepticism. However, as consumers become more involved with the digital environment, which the future promises to hold, the brand owners & marketing team don’t want to be left behind, while their competition could rake in all the visibility they get as the first mover.
Before we look into how the brands are exploring this, let’s understand NFT.
What Is NFT?
NFT (Non-Fungible Token) are non-interchangeable units of data that enable people or brands to tokenize digital files such as art, videos, audio & collectibles. NFT establishes ownership to an entity or a person at any point of time and is secured by the Ethereum blockchain.
Why is NFT valuable?
As NFTs are minted (converting digital data into crypto collections or digital assets recorded on the blockchain) from JPEG, PNG, or GIF image formats, one may wonder how it will make a difference as they could take a screenshot of the NFT to store in their mobile or computer. This is the same as walking into a gallery or museum to taking amazing digital pictures of works of art & claiming the value of the original. While there could be many ‘copies’, there will be only one owner with NFT who rightfully owns the asset. The NFT is like a ‘bill of copy’ within the blockchain which verifies who bought it, when and, if they later sold it, to whom.
The buzz of NFT in marketing began with the auctioning off of the first digital-only NFT at Christie’s that sold for US $69.3 million. This led to brands experimenting with NFT, to be part of their marketing mix.
Some brands are releasing NFT collectibles on limited editions as a way to open up new revenue streams or raise money for a good cause, while others are using them as a way to boost their image, tell a story or reach a new audience. With little data on acceptance or demand, the most common route taken by marketers had been auctioning their brand’s NFTs.
Famous brands taking the auctioning route
Asics is the first sportswear brand to leap on the NFT bandwagon by raising funds from auctioning off 189 digital assets designed in collaboration with various digital artists. It reinvested the proceeds to the Asics’ Digital Goods Artist-in-Residence Program.
Italian fashion brand Gucci auctioned off a newly minted NFT inspired by its Fall/Winter 2021 collection in an online auction hosted by Christie’s. The week-long auction ended with the final sale price of US $25,000, the proceeds of which were donated to UNICEF, USA to support the non-profit COVAX initiative.
In the same way, fast food brand Taco Bell auctioned 25 NFT GIFs as a way of driving brand awareness while supporting a cause. The series of NFTs commemorated the iconic Taco dish that combined the digital and physical worlds, with the buyer of the NFT receiving an electronic gift card for US $500. While each GIF started at a bidding price of US $1, all 25 NFTs were sold within 30 minutes and that went to thousands of dollars.
The designer sunglasses brand, Rayban entered the NFT space, auditioning off its first, and only NFT featuring the brand’s iconic Aviator sunglasses. Created by German artist Oliver Latta, renowned for his provocative 3D motion designs, the NFT was auctioned on OpenSea with the proceeds going to the Italian Art Trust.
Famous brands taking other routes then auctioning
The beauty brand Clinique took a different route than the most commonly used bidding system. It ran a competition to give away three NFTs to members of its Smart Rewards program who can share stories of optimism & hope for the future on social media with specific hashtags.
The toy manufacturer, Mattel rolled out NFTs in its collectible brand, and Hot Wheels has released 40 different NFT designs for consumers with a starting price of US $15 for each. The product package included NFTs featuring an animated iconic design of the brand’s cars. With more than 5,000 NFTs redeemable for a physical version of exclusive Hot Wheels, a collector had a 5% chance of owning a limited-edition real-life die-cast vehicle.
The world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald’s dropped its first-ever NFT (dubbed MCNFT) of a virtual art collection featuring the McRib, as a way of creating excitement about the product’s temporary return and limited availability. The collection of 10 individual McRib NFTs was available to those who retweeted the brand’s invitation, which more than 21,000 people did within just a few hours.
How the rivals Coca-Cola & Pepsi approached the NFT game in different ways?
Coca-Cola on the occasion of International Friendship Day released a series of four NFTs, animated, one-of-one digital artworks delivering multi-sensory experiences – unlocking surprise items upon purchase for the first owner. The surprises included a ‘Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable’ that can be worn on the virtual reality platform Decentraland.
The ‘Coca-Cola Friendship Card’ was inspired by the original 1940s artwork that was auctioned over 72 hours and the winning bidder received a fully stocked Coca-Cola refrigerator, in real life. The proceeds from the NFT auction went to Special Olympics International. Following this, Coca-Cola issued a new set of four branded NFTs, in Christmas 2021 as a part of a blind box featuring falling snow & iconic Coke polar bears. The surprise element of coming to know what Coke collectible one has acquired after purchase added to the excitement.
Pepsi forayed into the NFT world with the launch of the Pepsi Mic drop genesis NFT collection. It is a generative-style collection of unique NFTs that live on the Ethereum blockchain. Anchored on the brand’s roots in music & to mark the year Pepsi was born, 1893 NFTs are created using nearly 50 unique attributes across 6 categories, including microphones, stages, accessories, and more.
The Pepsi Mic Drop NFTs will be grounded in variations of a microphone visual and inspired by iconic Pepsi flavors including classic blue Pepsi, silver Diet Pepsi, red Pepsi Wild Cherry, black Pepsi Zero Sugar – even fan-favorite Crystal Pepsi, and many more.
NFT in Indian Marketing space
Back home, in the Indian marketing space, the signs of NFT are yet to be felt. It will be interesting to see Amul, launching NFTs of Amul Girl, Air India on iconic Maharaja & Asian Paints on ‘Gattu’ with digital artists bringing life to unforgettable characters, forging formidable connections to the customers in the emerging digital space.
To conclude, while NFT certainly gained momentum in 2021, they are expected to become mainstream player in the trillion-dollar marketing industry in the coming years. This will be used by marketers to create unique brand experiences, increase brand awareness and encourage interaction with their customers.
At Pixel Studios, we are excited about this new technology & if you have a idea in mind to bring something new to this world, let’s discuss.