Big brands signal a shift to metaverse living and more digital ownership
NFTs have exploded in popularity over the last 18 months, with big brands such as Coca-Cola and Gucci looking at how they could use the technology to better interact with and serve their customers. At the same time, million-dollar NFT sales have become the norm, and big brands leaping into the NFT space signal a much more significant shift toward digital living.
Whatever you think of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and NFTs, it is hard to deny the impact they will have on our everyday lives in the future. Deloitte recently reported that most merchants in the USA are laying the groundwork to adopt crypto soon.
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Crypto payments become a top priority
In the study, Deloitte polled 2,000 senior executives at retail organizations from a variety of industries across the US about topics relating to digital assets. More than 85% of the executives polled say their businesses are “giving high or very high priority” to enabling crypto payments. While nearly 75% of the respondents say, their organizations planned to accept crypto or stablecoin payments within the next two years.
Industry giants flock to NFTs
A total of $25 billion in NFT trading volume was recorded in 2021, according to DappRadar data. In comparison, NFT trading organic sales volume is on course to exceed the previous year’s amount, with $3.7 billion transacted in May 2022 alone.
While many brands have jumped into the space, there are some clear industry giants whose actions speak louder than words. Arguably, while nobody has a crystal ball to see the future, the participation of some of the world’s leading brands is sure to spur another wave of innovation, coupled with real-world adoption. Here are ten companies that recently jumped into the NFT space.
Salesforce is a global leader in cloud computing technology and recently announced its entry into the NFT sector with a new platform called NFT Cloud. The NFT Cloud platform, developed by the customer relationship management software industry leaders, lets companies develop and sell NFTs, connect with online communities, and collect product data.
The new Salesforce NFT Cloud is currently being tested by a small group of beta customers but will be made accessible to a much larger audience beginning in October 2022. It is not yet known which blockchain platforms will be used to mint NFTs, however, the program will not support blockchains that need a considerable amount of energy to confirm transactions.
Most importantly, the Sales Force team sees NFTs as a way to build better customer interaction and loyalty as NFTs can be used to offer admission to exclusive online communities and in-person events, for example. Currently, salespeople are more ready to provide worthless artifacts such as stationary and branded office equipment than to use NFTs for access and engagement. With Salesforce NFT Cloud, Salesforce wants to change this practice indefinitely.
In November 2021, as The Sandbox prepared to launch their first play-to-earn alpha test game, they welcomed sports brand Adidas as one of their meta citizens. The Sandbox already has partnerships with various tech and entertainment companies, for instance, Atari, The Smurfs, Animoca Brands, and The Walking Dead. However, a collaboration with a fashion brand was still missing.
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In a link-up with big names in the NFT community, including the Bored Ape Yacht Club, gmoney, and the team behind Punks Comic for the NFT release, sportswear giant Adidas Originals launched its first NFT drop of digital and physical products in the Sandbox.
NFTs gave buyers access to virtual wearables for the blockchain-based gaming world and a physical hoodie, tracksuit, and gmoney’s iconic orange beanie. Adidas even snapped up an NFT for itself, a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, named Indigo Herz. Then, in January 2022, Adidas and Italian luxury fashion house Prada joined forces to launch an NFT project built on the Polygon network that would allow fans to contribute their designs.
Luxury sports car manufacturer Lamborghini announced the launching of a space-themed NFT collection in January 2022. Then in early February 2022, it tweeted about the 360 Lamborghini Aventador NFT collection by the Cars NFT club. The idea for the NFT launch dates back to 2019, when Lamborghini fired a piece of carbon fibre composite up to the International Space Station as a part of a joint research project.
Simply put, the keys are shaped and made from samples of carbon fibre that Lamborghini had sent to the ISS, with each space key having a digital twin piece of art as an NFT that will be accessible through scanning a QR code on the back of the physical asset. The collection consists of 5 exclusive space-themed digital artworks created by a yet undisclosed artist. But more details about the artist’s identity and an auction date for the collection are expected soon.
One of the early pioneers from a big brand perspective was Coca-Cola. In July 2021, Coca-Cola released a series of 4 NFTs, which were animated, one-of-one digital artworks delivering multi-sensory experiences to celebrate International Friendship Day. It unlocked surprise items, such as a ‘Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable’ that can be worn in the virtual reality platform Decentralandand a Coca-Cola Friendship Card inspired by the original 1940s artwork. Of course, holders were free to trade these items on the secondary markets.
All these NFTs were auctioned over 72 hours as a single ‘Loot Box NFT’, with the winning bidder also receiving a real-life, fully stocked Coca-Cola refrigerator. Notably, all the proceeds from the NFT auction were directed towards Special Olympics International. Then, at the end of 2021, Coca-Cola issued a set of four branded NFTs through the VeVe NFT Marketplace platform. A collection of Christmas-themed digital collectible snow globes featuring falling snow and the iconic Coke polar bears were part of a blind box offering as Coca-Cola further experimented with NFT drops and rarities.
One of the most iconic and long-standing global sports brands, Nike, also leaped headfirst into NFTs in December 2021. Nike announced the acquisition of RTFKT Studios, which it called “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next-generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.” Founded in January 2020, RTFKT, pronounced as “artifact”, sells digital items like sneakers in the form of NFTs.
However, Nike acquired RTFKT after opening a successful sports brand for decades with hardly any brand affiliation, acquisitions, or mergers. In a nutshell, people paid attention when Nike made moves into the NFT space. Although the details of the deal were not disclosed at the time, from the outside, the deal looks like a traditional knowledge share where both parties bring masses of expertise in their respective fields.
The RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CRYPTOKICKS arrived in mid-April 2022 alongside a loot box which all sold out. Then at the end of May, the RTFKT Space Drip x Nike Air Force 1 collection landed.
Commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of Louis Vuitton, born on August 4th, 1821, the brand created Louis The Game, which draws a spotlight onto Louis Vuitton’s rich heritage through NFTs and in-game innovations. The game even has a dedicated character named Vivienne, created to resemble Louis Vuitton. While playing the game, users can dive into the legacy of one of the world’s most famous fashion houses and collect monogram candles to access more levels. Players can also customize their characters with different Louis Vuitton monogram prints and colors and learn about LV’s history throughout the game by collecting postcards and other memorabilia.
Now, Louis Vuitton has added new NFT tasks and rewards to the game. According to the game rules, a participant who collects a certain number of free NFTs will have a chance to win an NFT lottery prize. Additionally, players have a chance to win one of 10 new NFTs featuring fashion designer Vivienne. The NFT collection was created in partnership with startup Wenew Labs.
The project, while not strictly an NFT collection, fuses two of the most exciting categories of gaming and NFTs to not only celebrate its birthday but deliver valuable marketing and educational content to its audience. Moreover, it’s an influential experiment in customer marketing and preferences as added features such as letting players choose clothing can translate into valuable market research for later endeavors.
Samsung is the most significant device and electronics manufacturer globally to have openly supported NFTs since the early days. Having already rolled out a native dapp browser on specific devices, the South Korean electronics giant, which counts millions of device users worldwide, announced in January 2022 that it’s planning extensive support for NFTs beginning with its 2022 lineup of TVs.
In 2022, Samsung will introduce the world’s first TV screen-based NFT explorer and marketplace aggregator, a platform that lets you browse, purchase, and display your favorite art — all in one place. Samsung also mentioned in the press release that this platform would let creators “share their art with the world” and let potential buyers preview an NFT before purchasing it and learn about an NFT’s history and blockchain metadata. Samsung is also focusing on the details when viewing NFTs on its 2022 TVs. As per Samsung’s release, a smart calibration feature on the TVs will automatically adjust display settings ‘to the creator’s preset values, so you can have peace of mind that your work looks impeccable, with true-to-the-original image quality.’
Samsung has also released its 837X virtual shop in the Decentraland metaverse in January 2022, further cementing its position in the digital world. NFT support from one of the largest manufacturers of TVs on earth can only signal good things for NFT collectors and the technology. Additionally, with Samsung adding such features, other manufacturers could quickly fall in line. Moreover, the technology can be rolled out to mobile and personal devices to further enhance user experiences in the future.
At the end of 2021, Gucci announced they were teaming up with Superplastic and NFT superstars Janky and Guggimon. At that point, details about the partnership were missing, but it fit the narrative of established brands working with crypto-native projects to establish themselves in the metaverse.
Then at the end of January 2022, the global fashion house announced their big step into the NFT space with the SuperGucci collection, which features ten collaborative pieces created alongside toy giant Superplastic. Each was made and designed in partnership with web3 toy and fashion brand Superplastic. Significantly, each NFT goes alongside a hand-made ceramic figurine co-designed by Gucci creatives.
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The announcement came alongside a roadmap of the brand’s future metaverse plans. According to the thread, Gucci will bet heavily on becoming active in the metaverse. These efforts will start with a dedicated Discord account and the revolutionary Gucci Vault. The Vault aims to reimagine the brand’s heritage through new digital realms, similar to Louis The Game, mentioned previously.
This is another prime example of how brands are using NFTs for marketing purposes. Almost 100,000 people retweeted news of the McRib returning to the Mcdonald’s menu, spreading the word and hype faster than any ad campaign. Importantly, for a fraction of the budget of a global advertising campaign.
In November 2021, the fast-food giant released a limited edition run of 10 McRib NFTs designed to commemorate the return of the fast-food restaurant’s popular sandwich back to its menu. McDonald’s issued a limited number of NFTs as part of a virtual collectible art collection featuring the McRib to create excitement about the product’s temporary return and limited availability. The collection of 10 individual McRib NFTs was only available to those who retweeted the brand’s invitation, which more than 21,000 people did within just a few hours, and nearly 93,000 had done by the start of 2022.
More recently, McDonald’s has filed trademarks, revealing plans to open food delivery services inside the metaverse. The iconic American fast-food chain filed ten trademark applications, indicating its plans to launch a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods with further plans to offer home delivery.
Then, in early June 2022, Meta announced that McDonald’s would start deploying Meta’s Workplace product for its employees in several global markets, including corporate and restaurant workers. Currently, Workplace is accessible on users’ phones. Still, Meta noted that the deployment is “set up in a way that allows employees to connect, or disconnect when they feel the need to do so.” A future whereby McDonald’s employees can meet virtually within Meta, conduct meetings, and more is sure to be around the corner.
Iconic sunglasses designer Ray-Ban jumped into NFTs in October 2021 by launching an auction for its first and only NFT featuring the brand’s legendary Aviator sunglasses. They were created by German artist Oliver Latta, renowned for his provocative 3D motion designs. The NFT auctioned on OpenSea, with the proceeds going to the Italian Art Trust.
Interested collectors and fans could join the charity auction by simply registering on Ray-Ban’s dedicated site for its NFT and OpenSea. Those who will successfully purchase the Aviator NFT eyeglasses are provided with authenticity certificates of the blockchain-based digital artwork.
Besides these big brands, more globally recognized companies have stepped onto the NFT space, including Under Armour, Pepsi, Ferrari, and more. You can find out more about NFTs here, and why not try connecting your blockchain wallet to DappRadar and start exploring NFTs and crypto today.