Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have become the latest hot digital item and brands are clamouring to embrace them.
From community engagement to creative expression, raising funds for not-for-profits, lead generation, campaign promotion and influencer marketing, brand uses cases of NFTs are already wide in scope.
An NFT is a unique digital token that derives from the Blockchain and issued in two main ways: As stores of value, and as smart contracts. The NFT is stored on a distributed ledged that creates verified and immutable proof regarding ownership of a digital object, in the same way a certificate of authenticity can establish provenance of a physical object.
Here, CMO takes a look at 15 recent examples of brands using NFTs and their place across the marketing funnel.
Australian Open: Real-time engagement
This year’s Australian Open is serving up its own metaverse approach, with electronic line calling technology enabled NFTs allowing fans to own the moment in real-time.
The 6776 unique pieces of generative art created for AO Art Ball collection available are designed to provide unprecedented virtual access to live match data and memorabilia. Each AO Art Ball’s metadata will be linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. If the winning shot from any of the 400+ AO matches lands on that plot, the NFT metadata will be updated in real time to highlight the match information.
When one of the 11 championship points lands on a plot, the NFT owner of that plot can claim and receive the tennis ball used in the championship point, in a specially handcrafted case. Additionally, the NFTs will have utility, including for limited edition wearables, AO merchandise and other benefits in the future.
The AO Art Ball collection is made up of generative art, an algorithmic combination of different colour schemes, patterns and textures. There are also 22 AO Legend designs handcrafted from historical AO artwork, including the ‘Serving Man’ silhouette, first introduced in the 1997 Australian Open. In addition, AO Art Balls include more than 160 NFTs from the AO Artist Series including designs from local and international artists, specifically created for the 2022 tournament.
“The court plot tied to the NFT will be revealed when the balls are minted, meaning a buyer can’t choose a specific position on-court,” Run It Wild director, Adam De Cata, said.
The AO will also serve up an advanced innovative experience for fans by hosting of a virtual AO in Decentraland, the 3D virtual reality platform. Fans will be able to explore the AO precinct online in AO Decentraland for the duration of the tournament, complete challenges, view historic AO content, interact with players and other tennis fans.
The AO 2022 runs from 17 – 27 January 2022.
Dolce and Gabbana: Mixed reality experiences
Boson Protocol made its NFT history in September 2021 by acquiring The Glass Suit, personally designed by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. It was part of Dolce & Gabbana’s Collezione Genesi, a nine-piece luxury drop curated exclusively by NFT marketplace, UNXD. The items exist both digitally and in the real world.
Boson won the auction with a 351 Ethereum (ETH), or $1 million, bid. As an NFT, The Glass Suit comes with a range of digital and physical experiences including its virtual recreation in an open metaverse, an available custom fitting at the Dolce & Gabbana atelier in Milan, access to couture events in Italy and two two-week exhibitions in the fashion brand’s stores.
“We believe the Collezione Genesi is a foundational moment in NFT history. It connects the digital with the physical in a fascinating way — and its novel approach is why Boson acted to acquire The Glass Suit,” the company said. Boson Protocol used The Glass Suit as the cornerstone of its flagship metaverse commerce experience, which launched in Decentraland in November.
Lloyds Auctions: Sales promotion
In December, Lloyds Auction released the second edition of Digicars art as NFT collectibles in Australia. The artworks took the form of a Holden Torana A9X classic car, a factory built 1977 automobile that’s proven a highly collectable and valuable Aussie muscle car.
The NFTs coincided with more than 50 of the physical cars going up for auction in December through Lloyds Auctions that were completely unreserved.
Benefits of owning the NFTs include shopping discounts with Lloyds Auctions, framed picture of the digital NFT, and an ICAARS certificate of authenticity. The Torana NFTs followed the debut of Lloyds’ first NFTs representing another classic vehicle, the Ford Falcon Phase III, last September. These former collectables went for up to $50,000 each.
“The auction launch of the Ford Falcon Phase III NFTs were a huge success, and we expect these Holden Torana A9X’s to be just as successful,” said Lloyds Auction chief operations officer, Lee Hames, at the time.
Sunny Skin: Next-gen influencer marketing
Building influence and community was the trigger for Australian beauty brand, Sunny Skin, to debut its first NFT collection in the metaverse.
The Central Coast-based company’s NFT collection, dubbed ‘Aussie Angels’, is based around iconic Australian animals and made its official entrance on the Openseas.io NFT open marketplace on 1 November 2021 through inaugural digital character, Kali the Koala. Sunny Skin co-founder, Danielle McDonald, told CMO Kali the Koala is designed as a digital influencer as well as characterisation of the brand, embodying its values, look and feel in the metaverse.
Kali the Koala is linked to the company’s SPF50+ product and designed to appeal to women in their 20s through to 40s who understand and prioritise sun care, live an active outdoor lifestyle, are concerned about toxins and chemicals in skincare, are health conscious and attracted to innovation.
“It may look random to be launching an NFT as such a new brand, but this was very carefully considered as part of our brand strategy,” McDonald said. “What attracted us to this space is the ability to build deeper relationships with customers as well as other brands. There’s huge opportunity to collaborate using these smart contracts.”
F. Whitlock & Sons: Creative campaigning
Brand engagement was the impetus for New Zealand-based pickle and sauce maker, F. Whitlock & Sons, to launch into NFTs. The food manufacturer commissioned Australian artist, Struthless (Campbell Walker), to create a short animation as an NFT, auctioned to raise funds for The Hunger Project.
The NFT was designed to reflect the brand’s creative campaign, ‘Whitlock’s Tales of Delicious Demise’, promoting a new range of beans, marinades and rubs. The campaign featured illustrative depictions of ingredients having their flavour extracted in black and white with a pop of red.
Struthless’ interpretation was a stop motion created with paper layers and frames reflecting the delicious demise of Chip the chipotle, before it inevitably ends up bottled. The NFT sold for 0.6 Ether (the currency of the Ethereum blockchain), or approximately US$2000 via the OpenSea marketplace.
“We partnered with Struthless to introduce people to the world of Whitlock’s, allowing them to discover the characters behind our products’ ingredients and give them the opportunity to really engage with our brand, by owning a unique digital piece of Whitlock’s art,” F. Whitlock & Sons flavour ‘adventurist’ and brand chief, Nicola Curran, said at the time.
Alt Saints: Rethinking the cereal box collectible
Australian purpose-driven food brand, Alt Saints, is another FMCG jumping into NFTs, this time by reimagining the plastic collectible toys found in cereal boxes. Launched as part of its Birchal campaign, the company also created a marketplace for these digital assets.
Alt Saints pitches its muesli and cereal products as eco-friendly, nutritional and tasty and available in thoughtfully designed packaging featuring endangered species avatars. These include ‘brainfood granola’ to ‘mood boost muesli’. Its aim is to encourage Aussie kids to engage and learn over brekkie while crossing into their digital world by collecting and trading digital NFTs rather than disposable trinkets.
Alt Saints founder and creator, Charbel Zeaiter, described his NFT model as similar to a “golden ticket”, ushering in a new era in the collectibles craze, as well as pushing the boundaries of technology and artificial intelligence.
“The simplest way to explain our golden ticket strategy is to imagine we are replacing disposable toys and trinkets with very limited-edition digital toys that have scarcity built into them, moving from the realm of the plastic to the digital. The real value will take time to be realised but imagine your NFT having its own intelligence, knowledge about itself, an ability to teach other NFTs and viewers, and as open gaming takes hold, the ability to take your NFT into a game such as Fortnite as your avatar,” he commented.
Playboy: Community connection
Playboy has made a significant commitment to NFTs. Among more recent efforts is the Playboy Rabbitars collection, which pays homage to its founding year, 1953, and iconic bunny imagery.
Just shy of 12,000 3D rabbit characters have been released in NFT form, inspired by the brand’s iconography and heritage and possessing unique characteristics such as fur, facial features, ears, apparel, accessories, occupation-related traits and ears. They are also keys to a reimagined Playboy Club, including member-only events, merchandise, artwork and artist collaborations.
The Rabbitars were created by Playboy’s Web3 Innovation team in partnership with Possible Studios and art studio and blockchain tech company, Wenew. The Rabbitars live on the Ethereum Blockchain as ERC-721 tokens hosted on the InterPlanetary File System, or the metaverse’s decentralised file storage system.
“Distributed ledger technology is revolutionising how fans and consumers interact with brands today,” said Playboy VP Blockchain innovation, Jamal Dauda. “Our goal is to deliver meaningful opportunities for ownership and unique value. The Rabbitars mark the beginning of true blockchain-based membership for Playboy. Just as Playboy Club keys gave millions of members a chance to step into the sophisticated lifestyle that the Playboy brand represents, NFTs today can do the same and so much more.”
The NFTs were put up for sale for 0.1953 Ethereum using crypto or US dollars in October 2021 across three sales stages: Pre-sale for whitelisted Ethereum-paying collectors; public sale for US dollar paying collections; and public sale for Ethereum-paying collectors.
Vicinity Centres: Experiential activation
To coincide with the festive season, shopper centre owner, Vicinity Centres, gave consumers the opportunity to explore eight NFT artists in its Galeries Sydney location.
The artists were displayed via an ‘NFTree’, a sculpted Christmas tree onsite made of glass, Perspex and mirrors. The eight artists featured were: Serwah Attafuah, Aldous Massie, Biance Beers, David Porte Beckefeld, James Jirat Patradoon, Jonathan Puc, Lucius (Sung Myeong) Ha and Rel Pham.
Bespoke signage was used in The Galeries to direct shoppers towards the exhibition and displayed QR codes which connected to each creator’s profile on Foundation and allowed consumers to purchase artwork. Each artist was also highlighted across social media channels and website.
‘NFT: Illuminated’ was the first step in a newly developed creative platform, ‘It’s An Art’, for The Galeries Artist in Residence program and tied into the wider Christmas campaign, ‘Where there is light’.