NFTs, even a year ago if you mentioned them most people would say, “huh?” Now, NFTs are being minted, dropped and are transactional tools. More so, they are coveted collectibles with auction houses Sotheby’s and Christies having held NFT collection auctions. Brands are now participating in the NFT trend and leveraging this world of art and technology to promote brand loyalty, engage new audiences, and build online communities via DAOs.
From Gamers to Mainstream
As marketers often say, “find out who your customer is, where they hang out (online), and how to connect with them”. Unless you are a gamer or make a habit of hanging out on channels such as Discord, you probably haven’t come across an NFT drop (yet). This is all about to change as major brands, celebrities, and mainstream media start to drop and promote NFTs to much broader audiences.
Why use NFTs as a marketing tool?
Part of what makes NFTs exciting and popular is that it they are new, unique, and financially transparent. They give the user ownership of the digital product for a lifetime, avoiding fear of “fakes” and providing access to the coveted future of art.
Why should we care about NFTs?
- NFTs give owners a sense of exclusivity
Brands, particularly those in the luxury space create and curate a sense of exclusivity for their customers. This enables higher pricing, increased loyalty, and a sense of belonging for the customer. NFTs are now being weaved into traditional brand loyalty schema to engage new (often younger) audiences.
NFTs give exclusivity by granting access to members-only communities. Owners become members of “the club” and are usually given benefits or perks exclusive to that status. The limited number of each drop of NFTs increases the feeling of exclusivity as well as the potential future value of the digital asset. NFTs can be split into tiers and a common strategy is that the top tiers are limited in number and termed “legendary”. These are greater in value as collectors’ items but also usually have very exclusive perks such as a physical version of the NFT. Fashion brands for example have embraced NFTs and example being Phillip Plein, a fashion brand that launched an NFT sneaker which also is accompanied by the physical sneaker itself. In the short term, this physical + digital model is likely to be most favoured by consumers as they get accustomed to a whole new world of digital assets.
- NFTS help brands create a buzz
Leading luxury brands including Balenciaga have already used NFTs to create a buzz and increase share of conversation (media and online coverage including social media mentions). Pringles and Nike also dropped NFTs around the Super Bowl with great engagement outcomes. Celebrities have also jumped onto the NFT bandwagon as a way to ignite interest in their personal branding projects. Paris Hilton is one of the foremost celebrities to have used NFTs by collaborating with established NFT creators such as Superplastic’s synthetic superstar, Dayzee. The resulting NFT drops have given Paris credibility while highlighting her new personal branding direction as an abuse survivor.
Niche, luxury brands including private jet companies, Jet Luxe and Empress Jets have also joined the movement and plan to offer charter flights to those wishing to pay by cryptocurrency. Miami, which is fast becoming a global hub for crypto based activities, will also see a series of crypto events in April 2022. Jet Luxe and Empress Jets plan to participate in an event specifically for new, young, tech-savvy users of private jets.
A side note to brand and marketing teams that need to convince their traditional C-Suite of the “why” – big brand NFTs can often sell for large amounts, providing clear return on investment along with increased presence and customer loyalty.
- NFTs create communities and engage potential new audiences
NFTs and the communities that are created around them help form new and unique brand experiences. NFTs can become a part of your brand storytelling, breathing life into it via an asset that customers can own and which represents their experience of the brand. An example is Talon E-Sports signing a partnership with Yesports (an engagement platform for e-sports) as they understand that NFT under their Talon E-Sports branding gives another level of brand experience and connection to their fans.
The NFT community (creators, collectors, supporters) has become huge, global and very discerning. Creating NFTs, especially for luxury brands, helps them target an audience which they may not reach through traditional marketing methods but have the spending power to become part of their target demographic.
NFTs are not suitable for all brands
There are many positives for brands to use NFTs as a public relations and marketing tool. Yet we must remember that NFTs like any other marketing tool must be used appropriately, keeping in mind the brand’s audience and their readiness for new engagement techniques.
Authenticity is key as well as appropriateness of the message. The NFT community will be harsh and vocal at a brand if they find an NFT distasteful. An example would be the Associated Press (AP). The Associated Press pulled the sale of a NFT after significant backlash from the public on Twitter. The NFT depicted a short video of a boat overcrowded with migrants drifting in the Mediterranean Sea and was set to drop at a previously announced date. The NFT community responded to the collectible, which was promoted in a tweet by the publication, in an overwhelmingly negative way, calling it “grotesque” and “dehumanising.” The tweet was deleted some four hours after the original post. Later, the AP came out with a statement on Twitter, saying the video was a “poor choice of imagery for a NFT” and that its intended auction would be cancelled.
So what are our final thoughts on NFTs in relation to brand and marketing?
Brands and marketers should embrace NFTs – they are here to stay. However, as with any type of marketing, branding or PR tool, timing, format, and correct rollout is key. Brand awareness, key messaging and understanding your audience will all be key factors. If unsure, White Orchid Insights (WOI) offers NFT and Web3 services to its clients via a partnership with NFT experts, CubiEye. Together, we give the best of both worlds, combining traditional communications with cutting edge digital marketing.