Nike, Starbucks show how brands are reimagining NFTs

Time to rebrand

“It’s a branding problem,” said Craig Elimeliah, chief creative officer at Lippe Taylor Group. “Crypto kind of came in and ruined the party.”

Big brands and their ad agencies think more practically about Web3. Instead of do-nothing NFTs falling, companies want to facilitate virtual commerce, join games and platforms like Roblox, and create customer relationships through NFTs – without calling them NFTs.

Brands including Nike and Starbucks are using new Web3 customer loyalty programs. Nike representatives have met fans face-to-face at a number of town halls to proselytize the .Swoosh. Through the .Swoosh, Nike distributes digital rewards and virtual products; participants enter by minting NFTs to activate their membership. Instead of NFTs, Nike calls them “virtual creations.” There are more than 300,000 .Swoosh IDs minted, indicating over 300,000 participants in the program, according to statistics publicly available through OpenSea, the NFT marketplace.

“We’re seeing brands shift to really wanting to integrate Web3 into their business planning and marketing efforts in a more meaningful way,” said Vayner3’s Akkineni, “less one-off [marketing] and more of an integrated strategy.”

Meanwhile, Starbucks’ Odyssey launched in September, billed by the company as “an extension of Starbucks Rewards, powered by Web3 technology, that unlocks access to exciting new benefits and experiences for members. The experience allows members to participate in a series of entertaining, interactive activities called “Journeys.”

“Starbucks is associated with something that has value,” Elimeliah said. “People want coffee. They will pick up quickly and they will have benefits.”

The Starbucks program is being built slowly, in a way that seems to ward off fast-moving participants. First, members must sign up for Starbucks’ Web 2.0 Rewards Program to join Odyssey. To obtain some of the benefits, NFT holders or “stamp collectors”, visit shops and complete other tasks. The activity unlocks special stamps.

Starbucks already counts more than 30 million members in its first-generation loyalty program. Odyssey is bringing new members, according to Sara Senatore, managing director and senior analyst, restaurants, at Bank of America Global Research. “It’s really encouraging,” Senatore said. “They get people to join Starbucks Rewards to participate in Odyssey.”

So far, Starbucks’ Odyssey has more than 4,000 owners of Passport Stamps, according to its page on NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway. Starbucks has made four drops since December, starting with a special holiday-themed stamp, and plans another NFT launch this week with the “Siren Collection,” which will feature 2,000 NFTs starting at $100. The “Holiday Cheer” stamp is the most valuable on secondary markets, where holders can resell them for up to $2,000.

Also read: NFT creators leave Web3 over disappearing royalties

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