The Intersection of NFTs, Creators, and Brands
Authored by Ankit Agarwal, CEO & Founder, Do Your Thng
NFTs tend to elicit polarising views. It’s either the next big thing in digital marketing or a gimmick that’ll fade into obscurity when the novelty dies down. In either case, the success stories for both creators and brands who venture into non-fungible tokens are undeniable.
NFTs: game changers for creators
Almost a year ago, Mike Winkelmann, a digital artist better known as Beeple, sold an NFT for $69 million at Christie’s auction house. For digital creators in the NFT space, it became the Big Bang. Mainstream finally noticed them and their digital art.
The lure of NFTs for creators is not restricted to pecuniary. Not every NFT minted gets the honour of being sold for millions. Yet, it still allows creators to regain control of their content because non-fungible tokens use blockchain to keep a record of ownership.
These unique digital assets could be anything. A digital painting like the one created by Beeple. Music like the Kings of Leon album "When You See Yourself," generated $2 million through NFTs. A digital collectable like the ones designed by visual artist Santanu Hazarika and illustrator Airphish for the collaborative album "Baaraat" by musicians Ritviz and Nucleya.
It could be a blog or a virtual item that an avatar in the metaverse wears or uses. Irrespective of what the NFT is, it can still be traced back to the creator, proving provenance. Consequently, NFTs guarantee creators compensation and credit for their work. A blessing missing in the Web2 era where borrowing or, worse, stealing a creator’s work has been rampant.
Moreover, NFTs break the traditional model of monetisation for creators as they introduce scarcity into the equation. With each NFT being either one-of-a-kind or limited, creators don’t need to have millions of followers to make a sustainable living out of their content.
They can directly sell NFTs to even a modest group of engaged fans who are passionate about possessing a collectable. Even better, the content need not be new, like Jack Dorsey selling the NFT of his first tweet.
Brands: leveraging the power of NFTs
Scarcity is also why notable brands have made a flurry of moves to tap into the power of NFTs. Pepsi released the Pepsi Mic Drop, a series of 1893 free NFTs reimagining microphones, as a homage to the brand’s love for pop stars.
Adidas forayed into NFTs with the "Into the Metaverse" drop, containing 30,000 tokens, all of which have been minted. For it, the brand partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, two of the most recognisable collections in the world, and created the original digital character, Indigo Herz.
Taking the experience further for holders of Into the Metaverse NFTs, they recently launched the Adidas for Prada Re-Source. The NFT project collaborated with artist Zach Lieberman to create an immersive artwork, now sold, by combining 3000 individual titles co-created by the original holders.
Using NFTs to redefine engagement
NFTs fall at the intersection of engagement and entertainment, which makes for an immersive customer experience, particularly during product launches. Lamborghini auctioning a single NFT artwork alongside the final Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae Coupe is a perfect example. The NFT came with additional perks, like previews of upcoming Lamborghini models.
Similarly, Volkswagen in South Africa used a digital treasure hunt called Game On. It allowed fans to discover hidden NFTs while the brand got to promote the safety and intelligence features of their latest Polo model.
The approach NFTs, and the metaverse they often inhabit, offer brands is impactful because it’s gamified. Users are not just watching, they’re playing like in Nikeland, the virtual world Nike built with Roblox that has everything from apparel to games.
One more way brands leverage NFTs is by turning them into a revenue stream. Nike's acquisition of the digital apparel firm RTFKT to help them create virtual sneakers was a step in this direction. They grasp that if a customer loves to wear a particular shoe IRL, they’ll probably want to wear it digitally too.
NFTs carry infinite possibilities for marketers, not merely because they create more engagement than conventional marketing campaigns. But because they enhance a customer's experience of the brand. With digital assets, consumers "own" a lasting piece of the brand they love, which builds incomparable advocacy.
NFTs: an evolving landscape
In an age where skipping ads has become muscle memory, brands need more than digital ads to inspire people to engage, and if not that, then at least watch their content. NFTs and the broader metaverse lend brands precisely that.
They engross consumers and entice them to participate. More than that, they generate free brand promotions every time a user posts a screenshot of the NFT or the campaign on their social media.
Although marketers are barely scratching the NFT surface right now, there will come a time when customers demand an experiential journey that mingles physical with digital. And when that happens, it would behove them to remember that the rocket fuel revving the engine is NFT creators and artists.