How an ad collector paid $2 for a Pringles NFT, and sold it for close to $1,500
Ian Schafer saw a golden Pringles can “drop” on the NFT markets last week, and just had to own it. It was only $2. Really, it cost $102 because there are “gas” fees on the Rarible marketplace, kind of like a delivery charge.
It was still a shrewd purchase. Schafer sold the Pringles art for close to $1,500 a few days later. That’s how it’s been for NFT collectors in the middle of a speculation craze. Schafer is the CEO of the executive networking and events firm named Kindred, and former owner of digital marketing agency Deep Focus.
“At first you roll your eyes, when a brand runs toward the fire, the bright shiny object fire,” Schafer says, in a recent phone interview. “But actually, as a piece of art, [Pringles] worked with a real artist. I thought it actually looked good and it was priced at $2.”
Here is a quick refresher on NFTs, or non-fungible tokens: They can be any digital file—a JPEG, GIF, MP4, PDF, anything. The NFTs are “minted,” which is like stamping a serial number on a dollar bill or getting an official seal on a document, by running them through the blockchain. The blockchain is the immutable digital ledger that keeps track of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It records whether a cryptocurrency or NFT is valid, and keeps records of every transaction involving the currency. As the value of digital currencies have grown (Bitcoin is currently worth about $53,000 a unit, and Ethereum around $1,640), so have the value of NFTs.
NFTs are so hot that brands are dabbling by “dropping” into the cryptomarkets that sell them, like Rarible, OpenSea and NiftyGateway. Taco Bell was likely the first about two weeks ago with five pieces of taco-inspired art, followed by Pizza Hut and Charmin. Time magazine turned a cover into a NFT, and The New York Times made an NFT out of a column about NFTs, which sold for $560,000, with proceeds going to charity. The other brands have been donating the money to charity, too.
Last week, Pringles and the artist Vasya Kolotusha designed a GIF of a twirling, glistening “CryptoCrisp” Pringles tube. Schafer bought the first of 50 minted editions.
Ad Age spoke with Schafer about his foray into this new world, his Pringles purchase, and about when brands should get involved—and when they should stay out. Here is that conversation, condensed and edited for clarity.
Why did you buy the Pringles NFT?
I thought, why not own a piece of brand history and be attached to the provenance of the work. It was literally a $2 roll of the dice, and I sold it for $1,500. That was a fun little ride.
(Schafer technically paid .001 Ethereum, which is about $1.64 at the time of this writing. And he sold it for .8 Ethereum, which is about $1,315. Pringles, as the creator, gets to keep 10% of all future sales, which is one of the benefits of the blockchain, it is a smart contract that keeps paying dividends to the originator. In this case, Pringles is donating the money. Pringles minted 50 of the cans, and some have sold for close to 2.5 Ethereum, or about $4,100, in secondary transactions.)
Did you sell too soon?
There’s a bid that’s even higher than what I sold it for, so good for them.
What brands should try out NFTs?
Should every brand do this? Definitely not. It is only right for certain brands. It’s really right for “chaos” brands, which is what I think Pringles is. Companies that are troublemakers, where they will do things to get attention. When Charmin did it, I didn’t think that was a good execution, because what are they doing—are they making art or an ad? With Pringles there was art to it.
Why should brands even care about NFTs?
They may think it’s a direct-to-consumer thing, but it might turn out to be B-to-B thing down the line. Maybe this is how their contracts are going to work with suppliers and their vendors. There is a lot to understand right now, and for brands, they need to get some operational knowledge of how they work. If advertising and marketing is the lever to pull for that, OK, so long as they’re getting the understanding. By the way, that works for the agencies, too.
Do you own any other pieces?
I own NFT art from Micah Johnson, a former athlete ... he’s also an incredibly talented artist, just beautiful 3D motion graphics work. My investment in that piece, and this is what I love about NFT art, is that you’re not actually investing in the piece of art as much as you’re investing in the artist, and this may go for any piece of art that you buy.
I look at it as a long-term bet that this guy is going to produce enough pieces of art, that so many people want, that my early edition will increase disproportionately in value.
How did you get started in NFTs?
I’ve gotten deep into NBA Top Shot, because it is a good intersection of my interests, which are sports and technology. I have sunk costs into NBA Top Shot.
(Schafer says he is using his hobby for a good cause, too, and helping to plan a fundraiser with athletes and celebrities, who will open Top Shot packs and donate proceeds to charity. The organization is called Shots for Shots, which supports health care and vaccine initiatives in underserved communities.)
Some Top Shots have been valued at more than $200,000, right?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those, but I have one listed, I think appropriately so, for like $30,000. It’s an 18 out of 99, Jeremy Grant hologram.
You just found him in a pack?
They were dropping what they call Holopacks and it was $1,000. And I basically had to make a call, this was the “free money” phase of NBA Top Shot, and it really still is, every pack that you open contains moments that are worth more than the pack.
So, I had to decide do I believe in this? Yes. Do I believe in this to the tune of $1,000? Probably. So I was able to get one of those $1,000 packs, one of 20,000 people who did. All in, that pack is easily worth over $10,000, even on a bad day.