“NFT” is not in the fine print of Starbucks’ Web3-style rewards program called Odyssey. The terms of service refer to “non-fungible digital tokens” once, and then call the digital rewards “Stamps.” Nike’s high-tech .Swoosh community calls NFTs “virtual creations.” The mega-brands are still pursuing Web3, but the lingo that defined the space early on is giving way to more practical marketing, with less baggage.
For many people, words such as NFT, crypto and blockchain, induce eye rolls. At worst, they conjure warnings about frenzied speculation and scams. But brands and their marketing partners are getting smarter about emerging technology and how they weave it into their businesses. There is a shift in the Web3 mindset: Brands don’t want to scare consumers with technical jargon.
“Consumers don’t care about Web3 or NFTs,” said Chris Liquin, senior VP of strategy at Vayner3, the Web3 consulting arm of VaynerMedia. “They care about a more ownable, personalized and immersive internet.”
Vayner3 works with brands including Budweiser and Pepsi, and it has produced NFT collections, blockchain-based games, and loyalty programs tethered to Web3 technology. Vayner3 also is an example of how the agency world is reframing the conversation, changing its name from VaynerNFT last year. The soft rebrand was partly due to the shifting attitudes around NFTs.
“We sort of expanded how we’re defining Web3. We’ve moved beyond the NFT,” said Avery Akkineni, president of Vayner3. “I think we’re probably, in all our programs, we’re referring to it as ‘digital collectibles,’ ‘digital assets,’ to make sure that it feels accessible to people. A lot of those technical terms can be polarizing, so we’re seeing a lot of brands move away from those.”