Creativity Brand Strategy

5 best brand NFTs: Taco Bell’s $180K taco, Hot Wheels and Nike

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

June 8, 2022 | 6 min read

Curious about how NFTs can help your brand? Here’s a look at five case studies from big-name companies that you should be aware of.

Most marketers have heard of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by now. But many of them are still wondering what all the hype is about. How can collections of data possibly be worth so much money, attracting attention from some of the biggest brands in the game?

The (very) short answer is: NFTs can help to build and strengthen communities, and strong communities can add value to just about anything. In addition to providing fans with what’s essentially a digital ticket to exclusive benefits, NFTs can be a tool that brands use to incentivize engagement from digital artists of all stripes, thus building a brand that’s truly collaborative and even, and to some degree open-sourced.

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NFTs have rapidly revolutionized marketing / Adobe Stock

But, at the end of the day, there’s no rulebook. NFTs are being used in a huge variety of creative ways, with mixed results.

Here’s a look at five of our favorite recent NFTs from brands:

Mattel Creations: Hot Wheels NFT Garage Series

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The value of a NFT is fundamentally derived from its rarity. The same goes for many collector’s items. It makes sense, therefore, for a company that makes popular collectible toys to get in on the NFT craze.

In 2021, that’s precisely what Mattel Creations did when it launched its Hot Wheels NFT Garage Series, a NFT campaign that leveraged the existing appeal of Hot Wheels cars the world over to bring the toy company as a whole into the emerging – and potentially hugely profitable – NFT space.

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Later that year, the company followed up with another campaign, which it called the Hot Wheels NFT Garage: Series 1. It consisted of 15,000 NFT ‘packs’ (bundles of NFTs that fans could purchase and open like a physical pack of baseball cards).

Taco Bell: Taco NFTs

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One of the first big-name fast food companies to cash in on the NFT craze, Taco Bell launched a series of 25 taco-themed NFTs in early March 2021. The tokens, each of which initially went for 0.001 ETH (a little under $2 at the time of writing), sold out in about half an hour. The resale prices soared in some NFT markets, in at least one case for more than $180,000.

Taco Bell says that all of the proceeds from its pilot NFT campaign would go toward its Live Más Scholarship, which it awards to “passionate students nationwide,” according to the brand’s website.

Nike: CryptoKicks

Sportswear company Nike’s debut NFT campaign, called CryptoKicks, has in many ways revolutionized the virtual fashion marketplace. Developed in partnership with the RTFKT, a digital arts studio acquired by Nike in December 2021, CryptoKicks launched on the Ethereum blockchain earlier this year. The foundation for the design of the digital sneaker featured on each NFT is the iconic Nike Dunk.

Like the famous CryptoKitties, the CryptoKicks designs can be ‘bred’ with one another. In other words, their digital code can be creatively intermingled so as to produce entirely new – and potentially extremely valuable – designs. At the time of writing, the more expensive CryptoKicks are being sold on NFT marketplace OpenSea for an eye-watering 100 ETH, which currently translates into a little over $180,000.

Asics: Sunrise Red

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Footwear company Asics launched its Sunrise Red NFT collection in July 2021 with the twin goals of bringing the company into the developing virtual marketplace, while simultaneously giving back to the community of digital artists it had partnered with for the drop. The tokens featured renderings of digital sneakers. The drop included 20 tokens for each of its nine separate designs, equaling a total of 189 NFTs.

The profits that the company raised from its Sunrise Red collection went to the digital artists who had created the designs via what Asics called its Digital Goods Artists-in-Residence program.

The Asics campaign is now a classic case study of a brand fusing its existing product offering with digital design to enter into the NFT space in a manner that directly benefits creators – just as any brand-led foray into web3 ought to.

Gucci: Aria NFT collection

The launch of Gucci’s inaugural NFT last year helped the iconic Italian luxury fashion brand emerge into the increasingly popular marketplace of virtual fashion. The NFT, unveiled by the prestigious Christie’s auction house, sold on June 3 2021 for $25,000.

The design of the token was drawn from ‘Gucci Aria,’ a branded film directed by the fashion designer Alessandro Michele – who, as of 2015, is also Gucci’s creative director. The film was created in celebration of the fashion house’s centennial and was oriented around the theme of rebirth.

It’s fitting, then, that the NFT that was subsequently launched in its honor played a key role in enabling the brand to evolve – and in some sense be reborn – in the virtual world.

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