Marketing Frontiers

Is There Long-Term Brand Value in NFTs?

By Mark Penn, Chairman and CEO, Stagwell




Marketing Frontiers is a new series from Stagwell exploring the methods, mediums, and messes modern marketers will grapple with over the next decade as they chart transformation in the discipline. This February, Stagwell is exploring NFTs.

NFTS are an opportunity brands shouldn’t pass on. 

Two strategies are driving value: incentivizing real-world action with NFTs, and using them to build loyal long-term consumer segments. 

In the old days, marketing companies incentivized consumers with free toasters. Today, they give you an NFT, a digital good that may be even more useful. It’s easy to confuse the NFT craze with other emerging new technologies but they stand apart as offering several unique areas of potential value. First, they provide individually usable coupons or discounts that can be tracked; Second, they offer permanent digital copies of paper goods; and third, they offer collectible opportunities that could soar in value,

Brands want to experiment with NFTs but are struggling to determine whether it’s a fad or an effective long-term brand strategy. They must balance wanting to be first movers on exciting new tech that is racking up serious investment while pursuing virtual items as ways to connect digital and in-person experiences. But barriers make this investment difficult, including the expensiveness inherent in producing some types of NFTs, the wild fluctuation in selling prices, and the knowledge gap among consumers who are confused or otherwise skeptical about the technology.

While it’ll be a while before we can gauge the long-term impact of the NFT activations in the market now, it’s clear from early experiments that two styles of NFT activations are proving successful: those that connect digital incentives to real-world action, and those that help build long-term, loyal consumer segments for brands – either within or beyond their usual consumer base. Sports marketers and luxury fashion brands are leading the charge on effective NFT adoption.

NFTs are too important of an opportunity for today’s brands to pass on.

Mark Penn

Chairman and CEO, Stagwell

Incentivizing and Rewarding Real-World Action: Sports Brands

This Super Bowl, the NFL and Ticketmaster are partnering to provide in-person spectators free NFTS that commemorate their tickets and serve as digital keepsakes, giving an added boon to die-hard fans for their commitment to filling stadiums and solving for consumers who want a souvenir from the experience but are prone to losing ticket stubs. In addition to the free, wide-cast NFTs, a set of limited-edition tokens will be released to commemorate past Super Bowls hosted in the city of Los Angeles.

Giving consumers something meaningful for attending in-person events that taps into fandoms, hometown loyalty, and the desire to remember exciting experiences is one avenue of common-sense NFT adoption. These are not the flashy, expensive digital art being auctioned the NFT world is known for, but affordable, scaled and tied directly to an activity that fans have already shown engagement with: collecting stubs. These efforts teach a simple lesson about how to forge new paths with emerging technology: don’t reinvent the wheel; look for ways NFTs enhance or supplement existing real-world action.

A screenshot of the N.F.L.’s Virtual Marketplace for NFTs and other collectibles. 

Building Loyal Long-Term Consumer Segments: Luxury Fashion and Apparel Brands 

NFL/Ticketmaster’s effort doubles as a window into how NFTs are tapping into supercharged fan bases to build long-term, loyal consumer segments. Beyond sports, luxury fashion brands use NFTs to engage up-and-coming, nascent consumer segments and prime them for long-term engagement. Louis Vuitton rolled out an adventure game commemorating its founder’s 200th anniversary birthday, featuring a selection of hidden NFTs and a set of ultimate prizes tied to exclusive, real-world offerings. And this year, NYFW goes virtual – presented by Decentraland, the popular Metaverse destination. Decentraland will host a digital component to NYFW that includes runway shows and immersive experiences, branded NFT collections, and other collectibles and digital tokens. These efforts engage a younger set of consumers who may not yet have the disposable income for luxury material purchases in real-life but are attracted to the exclusiveness of the brand and excited for the digital follow-through.

We think NFT’s are too important an opportunity for today’s brands to take a pass on. We believe every brand needs to play in the space in coming years and integrate NFTs into their campaigns. Fans want digital assets of their favorite players; traceable coupons make great targeted assets to enhance customer experience; and everyone loves to collect something that could be valuable.

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