Why NFTs have endless possibilities for brands

Brand marketers should take notice of this space.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) may not seem like the purview of advertising. 

But brand marketers should take notice of this space.

NFTs, or “crypto-collectibles,” are digital assets transacted and recorded using blockchain, which ensures no asset can be counterfeited or duplicated. That’s led to its popularity in the digital collectible arena for everything from rare art to sports cards and music memorabilia, as well as video games and virtual events.

Over the past few years, NFTs have popped up across gaming, art, sports, music and fashion. More recently, NFTs have been lighting up social media, leading consumers to want a slice of the pie. 

NBA Top Shot, a sports video highlights platform recently sold over $80 million worth of NFT video highlights, the highest-selling collectible by sales volume yet. Blue-chip brands such as Louis Vuitton, F1 Racing and Nike are jumping in. And musicians including Deadmau5 and RAC are experimenting with NFTs, bringing a wave of mainstream attention.  

With NFTs, we’ve opened the floodgates to a new type of brand storytelling and consumer interaction. Here are a handful of unique applications I see taking shape:

1. Experiential memorabilia

Scarcity and exclusivity are the building blocks of social cred.  

Remember Drake’s Summer Sixteen Tour? Imagine if every ticket holder received an exclusive Drizzy Coin collectible, through Apple Music, that unlocked exclusive access to the best memories from the night: digital highlights, AR filters, digital merch and art. 

2. Custom Brand Collaborations 

Crocs and Post Malone created a new set of kicks; Travis Scott and McDonald’s partnered on a limited-edition clothing line. While artist collabs and collectibles are nothing new for brands, NFTs unlock an entirely new avenue of opportunity to co-create. 

Brand artwork and digital collectibles created with artists, tied to NFTs, which can spark sustained brand engagement for multiple owners over the lifetime of the collectible. 

3. Digital-to-IRL experiences 

Nike filed a public patent to design an NFT-enabled physical shoe, which it will apply in the digital world.  

For example, Nike use the rare digital shoe within video games like NBA 2K. Or, perhaps, it takes the “genetic” digital code of the shoe and iterates on it using other NFTs (maybe eventually 3D print it via Nike ID!).  

4. Owning a moment

 When Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner captivated millions with a parachute jump from space, or when Prince performed the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime show, the world noticed. 

Iconic cultural moments like this could be minted as a digital collectible or limited edition series of artwork with NFTs and given to their largest fans to own in perpetuity. 

5. Brand-funded projects 

Decentralized funding of purpose-driven projects, creative endeavors and charity programs could become much easier with NFT contracts and crowdfunding. We could democratize publicly funded projects much easier with NFTs by owning a portion of the final output. 

NFTs can allow brands to provide tangible benefits to consumers. But like with any emerging technology, proper strategic planning is critical. This is wet cement with the opportunity to pave some really interesting roads. 

Enjoy the ride.

John Ohara is SVP of integrated marketing strategy and head of strategic innovation at 160over90

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