NFTs have certainly become the soup du jour of the ad world, enticing even classic brands like Coca-Cola to experiment with the modern-day marketing tactic.
The beverage behemoth is the latest to announce it will try its hand at non-fungible tokens, as brands find an opportunity to dust off large portfolios of intellectual property.
Coke is auctioning off a bundle of four NFTs in honor of International Friendship day that will include a visual, audio, and digitally-wearable NFT. They will be sold as one item, housed inside a fourth NFT that looks like Coca-Cola’s 1956 retro vending machine. The idea is a play on “loot boxes” used in video games, which often include prizes like clothing or weapons. The auction will take place on OpenSea, an NFT marketplace, starting July 30 and ending on August 2, with proceeds going to Special Olympics International.
“Each NFT was created to celebrate elements that are core to the Coca-Cola brand, reinterpreted for a virtual world in new and exciting ways,” Selman Careaga, president, global, Coca-Cola Trademark, said in a statement.
The NFTs were created in partnership with Tafi, which makes custom 3D content for avatar and emoji systems, and Virtue, the agency owned by Vice, who developed the initial concept.
Earlier this year, NFTs started making headlines after a video by the artist Beeple sold at a Christie’s auction for $69 million. Shortly after, brands like Taco Bell, Pringles, and Pizza Hut, dropped their own lines of NFTs. Since then, brands have been trying out the new marketing medium as a way to engage customers, and, in some cases, generate revenue. Now, larger, more “buttoned-up” brands are entering the NFT space.
“NFTs have opened up a new way for brands to tell their story and build relationships with consumers,” says Aaron Levant, CEO of NTWRK, which has its own NFT marketplace. “Traditional brands are getting into the NFT space because it offers a completely new type of brand experience and engagement.”
Other long-standing brands that have recently entered the NFT space include Campbell Soup and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Campbell’s recently released 100 NFTs in tandem with a makeover of its soup can labels. The food giant partnered with artist Sophia Chang. AB InBev will work with VaynerNFT on an upcoming line that will feature a sports star.
“Everytime there is a new medium to tell a story to consumers, advertisers eventually find their strategy to participate, and we are at that stage with NFT’s,” Levant says.
Different brand stories can lend themselves to different kinds of NFTs. When an NFT is resold, a cut of the sale goes back to the brand, since they are the creator. Those returns can keep going as long as the NFT is resold, because there's a digital record of every NFT transaction.
“The biggest risk for brands is to be left outside of culture as audiences commit their attention elsewhere,” Chris Garbutt, co-president of agency Virtue, wrote in an email. “It's important brands find new ways to connect and engage people.”
But NTWRK’s Levant cautions that brands, like with any other messaging, need to be aware of the brand voice that comes with launching an NFT. “NFTs still need to be authentic to the brand and provide real value to consumers,” he says. “Credibility and authenticity are paramount, regardless of the medium the brand story is being told.