NFTs in advertising; are they an industry game changer?
You've seen the acronym, but what actually is an NFT, and why should the advertising industry care? Duncan Gaman and Jade Duncan-Knight, Executive Producer and Production Assistant respectively at Partizan Studio, lay out the basics and explain the inevitability of this new digital format.
NFTs have taken the world by storm, experiencing a tenfold increase in the last two years, with approximately £20 billion worth of sales made last year alone.
As they rise into the mainstream the market is rapidly growing and diversifying, disrupting the digital world and industries including gaming, investment, fashion and art; but how is this relevant for us in the ad game?
How [are NFTs] relevant for us in the ad game?
Well, let’s start with the basics and bring some clarity as to what NFTs are and what they look like…
Above: NFTs are rising rapidly into the mainstream and advertisers will be getting in on the act in 2022.
What is an NFT?
NFT is an acronym that stands for Non-Fungible Token. To break this down into layman terms;
Non = Non
Fungible = Replaceable
Token (a very internetty word) = Commodity
[NFTs] can be any form of digital content; GIFs, images, films, music, even a tweet!
Each NFT is one of a kind and, because of that, they all hold vastly different kinds of value. Last but not least, they are easy to trade. The reason why each one is unique and can’t be replicated is because when an NFT is created (‘minted’) or sold, the data is stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain. This means that there is a virtual record, or transaction history, of these sales and a way of verifying that the current owner holds the legitimate product.
What do NFTs look like?
They can be any form of digital content; GIFs, images, films, music, even a tweet! Most NFTs are sold via auction, similar to traditional art fairs or exhibitions. The most popular market for selling and buying NFTs at the moment is OpenSea.
A few famous examples of NFTs, or batches of NFTs, include The Merge, CrytoPunk, BoredApe and Azuki. A lot of those focus on illustrations but you can use NFTs quite intuitively. Musicians have sold their albums as NFTs, and fashion brands like RTFKT have profited over their NFT sneaker designs.
Above: Online marketplace OpenSea tracks the most popular NFTs which are bought and sold.
Your flexible friend
NFTs have the flexibility to act as an accompaniment to a campaign, or to be auctioned as a singular promotion for a brand in itself. This creates additional streams of revenue for brands who also want to interact more directly with their consumers, especially within the luxury and fashion industry. A shirt created by artist and designer Chito for Supreme was sold as an NFT, but was originally intended as a release for the brand’s Yohji Yamamoto x Supreme capsule in 2020. The physical shirt went unreleased but the NFT gave it another lease of life. This approach will enhance the experience for collectors in the future who want to engage with exclusive content. This becomes relevant to our creative talent who can reimagine iconography in this up-and-coming digital format.
This new catalyst for digital art will breed fresh and intuitive ways of thinking for directors.
This new catalyst for digital art will breed fresh and intuitive ways of thinking for directors. With AR and VR already becoming commonplace, artists can expand on their offerings when creating NFTs. QR Codes and AR filters are just two of the ways in which both physical and digital assets could be intertwined while also developing a director's skill sets.
Above: A still from Clara Bacou’s Rising Tiger.
How talent can capitalise on NFTs
NFTs have been a great way for everyone involved in creating an advertising campaign to collaborate with a director. They offer agencies wider options in what they can plan for a client while also allowing room for open creativity in briefs seeing as there’s flexibility as to what an NFT can be. Talent at Partizan Studio has assisted with meeting the ever increasing demand for NFTs by embracing this newfound side of the industry.
With no visual restrictions it’s meant that any artist or director can get involved. At Partizan Studio, Art Camp, James Curran and Tendril Studio have all dipped a toe into the world of NFTs, though when it comes to a first encounter it can be difficult to understand the whole picture when the world of NFTs is now such a large tapestry.
[NFTs] offer agencies wider options in what they can plan for a client while also allowing room for open creativity in briefs.
Clara Bacou, a 3D/AR/crypto artist and director, has also recently tapped into the market very successfully. Her detailed 3D animated style and sculpture work lends itself well to the nature of NFTs, as demonstrated by one of her NFT GIFs, Rising Tiger. Unbound by any limitations with format, this artwork combines sound design, 3D sculpture and FX animation to create an alluring piece that sold for one ethereum, a cryptocurrency [as of today, one ethereum is equivalent to £1,972GBP].
Art Camp were involved in the creation of an audio-visual NFT last year. Sold by musicians Kelsey Lu and Boys Noize, the Ride or Die music video they created was minted as an NFT for auction. This sale occurred a week prior to the official release of the music video, so it also served as a promotional campaign to generate further interest outside of trailers and social media posts. There was an added bonus for fans in terms of the highest bidder also getting an exclusive sneak peek of the content before it went live elsewhere. High in demand, the NFT of Ride or Die eventually sold for $24,440.
Above: The video for Art Camp’s Ride or Die, for which they also created an NFT.
Tendril Studio were commissioned by NFT marketplace Shoyu NFT to create an immersive, 3D virtual space for NFT owners to view their collections. These galleries are interactive and can be accessed on the go, which is ever more indicative of the integration of digital and physical spaces. With tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg investing their time in the surreal Metaverse, we’ll likely see NFTs become part of that development too.
It’s a win-win situation, as it means the work has longevity for the artist and more people can purchase ones they’re a fan of.
Using his skillset in motion graphics and animation, director James Curran sells his NFTs via dedicated platforms such as OpenSea and MakersPlace and created the SlimHoods series; 500 NFTs which have gained notoriety for their collectible status.
SlimHood #2432 originally sold for four ethereum but, in time, increased in value and this specific SlimHood iteration was resold for five ethereum, bumping the price significantly. What’s great about NFTs, and what we see with James Currans’ ones, is that they can also be sold as editions. The same artwork or, in this instance, character variations, can be sold as a set of different and unique NFTs. It’s a win-win situation, as it means the work has longevity for the artist and more people can purchase ones they’re a fan of.
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Above: A walkthrough of the immersive gallery for NFTs created in Unreal.
The inevitability of NFTs
As the rise of NFTs continues into 2022 it seems inevitable that they will become an integral part of every contemporary brand’s marketing brief for the year ahead. Also, as the profitability of NFTs increases, we’re sure to see more of our clients become curious about them. It’s likely they may also become an integral part of marketing for agencies aiming to get their clients engaged with a younger, millennial audience.
It seems inevitable that [NFTs] will become an integral part of every contemporary brand’s marketing brief for the year ahead.
Partizan Studio has been supporting our talents in all aspects of their NFT creation, from technical, marketing and sales and, thanks to in-house experts in our offices in the UK, the US and France, and additional knowledge from our partner v(room)), we have 10+ directors working directly on NFT projects and so have been able to participate in this journey directly.
Above: A still from James Curran’s SlimHood #2432.
The NFT scene is evolving rapidly, and while they’ve become more popular, it has also brought into question the sustainability of cryptocurrency, both on a financial and environmental level. We’re witnessing the creation of a new way to celebrate artists and their creativity, but there’s a long road ahead of us to perfect the process. With the conceptualisation of Web 3.0, this idea might also push blockchain based tech to the forefront of the internet. Crypto and art would become increasingly entwined, even more so than they have now. Unexpected as it was that NFTs took centre stage in 2021, there’s plenty of intrigue as to what lies ahead…