The past few months have seen a real buzz around NFTs, yet many people are still in the dark as to what exactly they are. What is it about them that has brands such as Coca-Cola, Asics, The South China Morning Post, The NBA and even Team GB so excited?
What exactly are NFTs? The short answer is ‘non-fungible tokens’. The long answer is ‘a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable’. They can be purchased by anyone and can be absolutely anything – a piece of music, drawing or even a tweet – but the kicker is that you will never physically have it. If you’re still confused, don’t worry! We’re going to dive into the metaverse and highlight some recent examples.
In its digital asset debut, Coca-Cola teamed up with 3D creators at Tafi to host an auction for special-edition virtual ‘loot boxes’ of NFTs. The partnership, in celebration of International Friendship Day, sees the beverage company recreate one of its iconic vending machines.
The ‘Friendship Box’ is inspired by video game loot-boxes, which when opened reveal items such as a futuristic Bubble Jacket Wearable, The Friendship Card, The Sound Visualizer and other surprises.
The auction ends today and proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics International, which has been a Coca-Cola partner for over 50 years.
Asics were quick off the NFT mark and launched its first collection this month. It has been an experiment for the brand, and also the leisure vertical as a whole, helping to bridge the gap between physical and digital for brands.
Joe Pace, head of business development at Asics’s running apps, recently told The Drum: “Digital experiences are part of our everyday lives. It’s hard for me to imagine a future where digital goods are relevant in most people’s lives. From a business development standpoint, or more importantly an innovation development standpoint, this is about being innovative, being forward-thinking and honestly having a vision for what the future might look like.”
The sportswear brand is building an artist-in-residence program and the proceeds from the NFT auction will help fund digital artists. Pace noted that Asics was the first sportswear brand to move into the NFT space, which has allowed the brand to keep abreast of trends that its consumers are interested in.
To coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, Team GB has embraced NFTs as a way for fans to get their hands on some collectibles and also support its athletes. The organization aims to offer people an alternative way to connect with the team without actually being there, with a portion of proceeds going directly to the British Olympic Association.
Custom creations have included experiential offerings, Ben Sherman pin badges, wall paintings created by artist Ben Mosley and five gold medal moments – each authenticated with a unique cryptographic key.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP), founded in 1903, recently launched its ‘Artifact’ litepaper for recording accounts of history and historical assets on the blockchain as NFTs.
The Alibaba-owned company is the first news organization in Asia to champion this and will begin with a few selected blockchains. It has the intention to be chain-agnostic in the long run and will have the ability to issue authenticated ‘Artifacts’ at launch.
“The South China Morning Post is committed to engaging and educating a global audience with information and technology,” said Gary Liu, the chief executive officer of SCMP.
“Blockchain offers immense potential to immutably preserve journalism that witnesses and explains history. The ‘Artifact’ project is an opportunity to discover, collect, showcase, trade and reanimate meaningful moments and objects from our collective human experience, and we are excited to introduce this standard to the world.”
The National Basketball League is leaning into the NFT movement, investing in digital-first outreach programs in European markets and kicking off a global campaign featuring its stars from around the world.
Rapper Quavo recently teamed up with the NBA for exclusive finals packs. Quavo’s Quest includes Top Shot moments from some of his favorite players including Trae Young, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.
Speaking to The Drum earlier this month, George Aivazoglou, vice-president, head of fan engagement and DTC for the NBA, Europe and Middle East, said: “It has definitely helped us accelerate certain aspects of the overall fan experience, as well as pivot to a digital-first, direct-to-consumer approach. We have also seen how habits and consumption patterns have continued to evolve, which we have taken into account as we push the boundaries in terms of innovation and the fan experience.”