Marketers at NFT.NYC Upbeat on Brand-Building in the Metaverse
The nosedive in cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens peppered conversations, panels and events at NFT.NYC, a four-day event last week focused on the virtual baubles.
Marketers seemed unwavering in their zeal for NFTs. The price of crypto is down—by an estimated $2 trillion since November—and high prices for NFTs have faded. Most NFTs are purchased using cryptocurrencies. And as the crypto market has slumped, so has the value of the digital collectibles.
Some companies might fail because of that, but the industry is going through a necessary maturation process, said
chief executive of Doodles, a collection of 10,000 NFTs.
“At the end of the day…I think you’re going [to] see a lot of standout use cases from the people that were treating these like lifetime projects and real businesses—not just a way to generate some quick capital,” he said. “The future is incredibly bright.”
Samsung Electronics Co.
, virtual world platform The Sandbox, and Paramount Global’s Nickelodeon held events alongside the conference last week to showcase the future of NFTs, the metaverse and Web3.
Many buyers of NFTs hope to use their digital collectibles in the metaverse, a term to describe virtual worlds. Web3 is a form of a decentralized internet built on the blockchain, which is the same technology underpinning cryptocurrencies.
Many companies at NFT.NYC spoke of how customers might benefit from brands that create NFTs and enter the metaverse, said
social strategy director at Mekanism, an ad agency recently acquired by marketing holding company Plus Company.
“They’re showing real-world examples of how if you are a loyal customer, or if you buy into our product early, you’ll see an upside, whether the upside be financial, or bragging rights,” he said.
Companies such as Gucci and Samsung have been rushing to create NFTs or set up lands in the metaverse to attract younger consumers, freshen their brands and generate new revenue streams.
Many NFT projects are now pivoting from virtual evanescence to longevity, with yearslong product road maps and plans to expand beyond digital-art collectibles.
For instance, Doodles announced that it had hired rapper
as its new chief brand officer. As part of his appointment, Mr. Williams will executive produce an album for the Doodles community.
“Brand partnerships are a very big part of the road map because it brings new audiences to the table and hopefully, with some instances, can make our product actually better,” said Mr. Holguin, who joined Doodles last month from Billboard, where he was president.
Cool Cats Group LLC, another NFT community, created a pop-up immersive experience outside the conference that allowed both NFT holders and the unconverted to gain points and buy things like pins, stuffed animals and clothing. The company wants to increase the ways people experience the brand as it expands from an NFT collection to other projects.
“We want to get to that point where whether it’s plushies, or toys or vinyls, or animated series or a game—we have so many touchpoints of inclusion and accessibility that people can relate to,” said
one of the founders of Cool Cats.
Even NFT projects leveraging nostalgia showed up at the conference, hinting at how brands that already have a dedicated fan base might enter Web3.
Case in point was Neopets, a pet-collecting game popular in the early 2000s that has expanded to include a new experience, Neopets Metaverse. It gave a preview of what the virtual world will look and feel like, as it also gave away stickers and stuffed animals.
Brands with existing fans should think of Web3 as another form of content to expand into, said
founder and chief executive of Carlin West Agency LLC, the official licensing partner of Neopets, which is owned by JumpStart Games Inc.
“It is very important for brands to reinvent themselves,” Ms. West said. “They shouldn’t change the characters. They should change platforms, stories, and expand on narrative.”
Also in the nostalgia category, Nickelodeon is releasing an NFT project in July, selling 10,000 profile pictures of the network’s characters—from “Rugrats,” “Hey Arnold!” and others—for $50 each. It is another way for Nickelodeon to engage fans and introduce a new type of storytelling, said
chief executive and co-founder of Recur Forever Inc., an NFT collectible platform.
“People will start recognizing that NFTs are an incredible tool for community, and an incredible way to have an engaging experience with your audience,” Mr. Bruch said.
Whether marketers develop NFT projects or enter the metaverse, they will have to become more nimble and consider gamification tactics to gain consumers’ trust and loyalty, said
chief marketing officer of Samsung Electronics America.
“Marketers need to learn how to game, how to design games, how to really be in the moment, be able to pivot if there’s a challenge, if something can be done even stronger, that doesn’t really exist today,” said Ms. Crossan-Matos.
This month, Samsung created a server on Discord Inc., a chat startup, and reached more than 100,000 members in 12 hours, the company said. Back in January, the electronics giant created a virtual world called Samsung 837X in Decentraland, a metaverse platform.
Brands would do well to build a community first before creating NFT or metaverse projects, commented Mr. MacDonald of Mekanism.
“Brands that understand the core value of the communities, they’re going to stick it out,” Mr. MacDonald said. “They’re going to be the ones that still see success.”
Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at email@example.com
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