NFTs were a part of some of the most remarkable moments in advertising in 2021, helping lay the groundwork for brands to play in the coming metaverse. Classic brands like Pepsi and Budweiser tested the NFT waters, as did 21st Century brands like The Hundreds and RTFKT.
The technology around NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, has created new categories of digital products; fostered innovative online communities; developed virtual reality metaverses; and more. There is still plenty to be skeptical about, however, with concerns that NFTs could be used for illicit activity, like hiding shady financial transactions or creating multi-level marketing bubbles that are bound to pop. And not all brands with NFT drops have had success this year. For instance, McDonald’s McRib NFT campaign was tarnished by a troll who left a message with a racial slur inside a metadata field associated with McDonald’s crypto wallet. Also, some celebrity-backed NFT projects have been duds, as Bloomberg News pointed out. Wrestler and actor John Cena lamented that his WWE NFT was a “catastrophic failure,” when collectors shunned its steep $1,000 price point.
Despite some flops, there have been stunning marketing wins for brands, contributing to an NFT market that generated $10.7 billion in sales in the third quarter, up from $28 million in the third quarter of 2020, according to crypto-analytics firm DappRadar.
Here is a look at some of the most successful and innovative uses of NFTs by brands in 2021.