15 brands jumping into NFTs

From community engagement to creative expression, raising funds for not-for-profits, lead generation, campaign promotion and influencer marketing, brand uses cases of NFTs are wide and through the funnel. CMO investigates

Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have become the latest hot digital item and brands are clamouring to embrace them.

From community engagement to creative expression, raising funds for not-for-profits, lead generation, campaign promotion and influencer marketing, brand uses cases of NFTs are already wide in scope.

An NFT is a unique digital token that derives from the Blockchain and issued in two main ways: As stores of value, and as smart contracts. The NFT is stored on a distributed ledged that creates verified and immutable proof regarding ownership of a digital object, in the same way a certificate of authenticity can establish provenance of a physical object.

Here, CMO takes a look at 15 recent examples of brands using NFTs and their place across the marketing funnel.

Australian Open: Real-time engagement

This year’s Australian Open is serving up its own metaverse approach, with electronic line calling technology enabled NFTs allowing fans to own the moment in real-time.

The 6776 unique pieces of generative art created for AO Art Ball collection available are designed to provide unprecedented virtual access to live match data and memorabilia. Each AO Art Ball’s metadata will be linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. If the winning shot from any of the 400+ AO matches lands on that plot, the NFT metadata will be updated in real time to highlight the match information.

Credit: Australian Open

When one of the 11 championship points lands on a plot, the NFT owner of that plot can claim and receive the tennis ball used in the championship point, in a specially handcrafted case. Additionally, the NFTs will have utility, including for limited edition wearables, AO merchandise and other benefits in the future.

The AO Art Ball collection is made up of generative art, an algorithmic combination of different colour schemes, patterns and textures. There are also 22 AO Legend designs handcrafted from historical AO artwork, including the ‘Serving Man’ silhouette, first introduced in the 1997 Australian Open. In addition, AO Art Balls include more than 160 NFTs from the AO Artist Series including designs from local and international artists, specifically created for the 2022 tournament.

“The court plot tied to the NFT will be revealed when the balls are minted, meaning a buyer can’t choose a specific position on-court,” Run It Wild director, Adam De Cata, said.

The AO will also serve up an advanced innovative experience for fans by hosting of a virtual AO in Decentraland, the 3D virtual reality platform. Fans will be able to explore the AO precinct online in AO Decentraland for the duration of the tournament, complete challenges, view historic AO content, interact with players and other tennis fans.

The AO 2022 runs from 17 – 27 January 2022.

Dolce and Gabbana: Mixed reality experiences

Boson Protocol made its NFT history in September 2021 by acquiring The Glass Suit, personally designed by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. It was part of Dolce & Gabbana’s Collezione Genesi, a nine-piece luxury drop curated exclusively by NFT marketplace, UNXD. The items exist both digitally and in the real world.

The D&G Glass SuitCredit: Boson Protocol
The D&G Glass Suit

Boson won the auction with a 351 Ethereum (ETH), or $1 million, bid. As an NFT, The Glass Suit comes with a range of digital and physical experiences including its virtual recreation in an open metaverse, an available custom fitting at the Dolce & Gabbana atelier in Milan, access to couture events in Italy and two two-week exhibitions in the fashion brand’s stores.

“We believe the Collezione Genesi is a foundational moment in NFT history. It connects the digital with the physical in a fascinating way — and its novel approach is why Boson acted to acquire The Glass Suit,” the company said. Boson Protocol used The Glass Suit as the cornerstone of its flagship metaverse commerce experience, which launched in Decentraland in November.

Lloyds Auctions: Sales promotion

In December, Lloyds Auction released the second edition of Digicars art as NFT collectibles in Australia. The artworks took the form of a Holden Torana A9X classic car, a factory built 1977 automobile that’s proven a highly collectable and valuable Aussie muscle car.

The NFTs coincided with more than 50 of the physical cars going up for auction in December through Lloyds Auctions that were completely unreserved.  

Holden Torana A9X NFTCredit: Lloyds Auction
Holden Torana A9X NFT

Benefits of owning the NFTs include shopping discounts with Lloyds Auctions, framed picture of the digital NFT, and an ICAARS certificate of authenticity. The Torana NFTs followed the debut of Lloyds’ first NFTs representing another classic vehicle, the Ford Falcon Phase III, last September. These former collectables went for up to $50,000 each.

“The auction launch of the Ford Falcon Phase III NFTs were a huge success, and we expect these Holden Torana A9X’s to be just as successful,” said Lloyds Auction chief operations officer, Lee Hames, at the time.

Sunny Skin: Next-gen influencer marketing

Building influence and community was the trigger for Australian beauty brand, Sunny Skin, to debut its first NFT collection in the metaverse.

Kali the KoalaCredit: Sunny Skins
Kali the Koala

The Central Coast-based company’s NFT collection, dubbed ‘Aussie Angels’, is based around iconic Australian animals and made its official entrance on the NFT open marketplace on 1 November 2021 through inaugural digital character, Kali the Koala. Sunny Skin co-founder, Danielle McDonald, told CMO Kali the Koala is designed as a digital influencer as well as characterisation of the brand, embodying its values, look and feel in the metaverse.

Kali the Koala is linked to the company’s SPF50+ product and designed to appeal to women in their 20s through to 40s who understand and prioritise sun care, live an active outdoor lifestyle, are concerned about toxins and chemicals in skincare, are health conscious and attracted to innovation.

“It may look random to be launching an NFT as such a new brand, but this was very carefully considered as part of our brand strategy,” McDonald said. “What attracted us to this space is the ability to build deeper relationships with customers as well as other brands. There’s huge opportunity to collaborate using these smart contracts.”  

F. Whitlock & Sons: Creative campaigning

Brand engagement was the impetus for New Zealand-based pickle and sauce maker, F. Whitlock & Sons, to launch into NFTs. The food manufacturer commissioned Australian artist, Struthless (Campbell Walker), to create a short animation as an NFT, auctioned to raise funds for The Hunger Project.

Struthless for F. Whitlock & SonsCredit: F. Whitlock and Sons
Struthless for F. Whitlock & Sons

The NFT was designed to reflect the brand’s creative campaign, ‘Whitlock’s Tales of Delicious Demise’, promoting a new range of beans, marinades and rubs. The campaign featured illustrative depictions of ingredients having their flavour extracted in black and white with a pop of red.

Struthless’ interpretation was a stop motion created with paper layers and frames reflecting the delicious demise of Chip the chipotle, before it inevitably ends up bottled. The NFT sold for 0.6 Ether (the currency of the Ethereum blockchain), or approximately US$2000 via the OpenSea marketplace.

“We partnered with Struthless to introduce people to the world of Whitlock’s, allowing them to discover the characters behind our products’ ingredients and give them the opportunity to really engage with our brand, by owning a unique digital piece of Whitlock's art,” F. Whitlock & Sons flavour ‘adventurist’ and brand chief, Nicola Curran, said at the time.

Alt Saints: Rethinking the cereal box collectible

Endangered species feature in the Alt Saints NFTsCredit: Alt Saints
Endangered species feature in the Alt Saints NFTs

Australian purpose-driven food brand, Alt Saints, is another FMCG jumping into NFTs, this time by reimagining the plastic collectible toys found in cereal boxes. Launched as part of its Birchal campaign, the company also created a marketplace for these digital assets.

Alt Saints pitches its muesli and cereal products as eco-friendly, nutritional and tasty and available in thoughtfully designed packaging featuring endangered species avatars. These include ‘brainfood granola’ to ‘mood boost muesli’. Its aim is to encourage Aussie kids to engage and learn over brekkie while crossing into their digital world by collecting and trading digital NFTs rather than disposable trinkets. 

Alt Saints founder and creator, Charbel Zeaiter, described his NFT model as similar to a “golden ticket”, ushering in a new era in the collectibles craze, as well as pushing the boundaries of technology and artificial intelligence.

“The simplest way to explain our golden ticket strategy is to imagine we are replacing disposable toys and trinkets with very limited-edition digital toys that have scarcity built into them, moving from the realm of the plastic to the digital. The real value will take time to be realised but imagine your NFT having its own intelligence, knowledge about itself, an ability to teach other NFTs and viewers, and as open gaming takes hold, the ability to take your NFT into a game such as Fortnite as your avatar,” he commented.

Playboy: Community connection

Playboy has made a significant commitment to NFTs. Among more recent efforts is the Playboy Rabbitars collection, which pays homage to its founding year, 1953, and iconic bunny imagery.

Just shy of 12,000 3D rabbit characters have been released in NFT form, inspired by the brand’s iconography and heritage and possessing unique characteristics such as fur, facial features, ears, apparel, accessories, occupation-related traits and ears. They are also keys to a reimagined Playboy Club, including member-only events, merchandise, artwork and artist collaborations.

Rabbitahs CollectionCredit: Playboy
Rabbitahs Collection

The Rabbitars were created by Playboy’s Web3 Innovation team in partnership with Possible Studios and art studio and blockchain tech company, Wenew. The Rabbitars live on the Ethereum Blockchain as ERC-721 tokens hosted on the InterPlanetary File System, or the metaverse’s decentralised file storage system.

“Distributed ledger technology is revolutionising how fans and consumers interact with brands today,” said Playboy VP Blockchain innovation, Jamal Dauda. “Our goal is to deliver meaningful opportunities for ownership and unique value. The Rabbitars mark the beginning of true blockchain-based membership for Playboy. Just as Playboy Club keys gave millions of members a chance to step into the sophisticated lifestyle that the Playboy brand represents, NFTs today can do the same and so much more.”

The NFTs were put up for sale for 0.1953 Ethereum using crypto or US dollars in October 2021 across three sales stages: Pre-sale for whitelisted Ethereum-paying collectors; public sale for US dollar paying collections; and public sale for Ethereum-paying collectors.  

Vicinity Centres: Experiential activation

To coincide with the festive season, shopper centre owner, Vicinity Centres, gave consumers the opportunity to explore eight NFT artists in its Galeries Sydney location.

The artists were displayed via an ‘NFTree’, a sculpted Christmas tree onsite made of glass, Perspex and mirrors. The eight artists featured were: Serwah Attafuah, Aldous Massie, Biance Beers, David Porte Beckefeld, James Jirat Patradoon, Jonathan Puc, Lucius (Sung Myeong) Ha and Rel Pham.

Credit: Vicinity Centres

Bespoke signage was used in The Galeries to direct shoppers towards the exhibition and displayed QR codes which connected to each creator’s profile on Foundation and allowed consumers to purchase artwork. Each artist was also highlighted across social media channels and website.

‘NFT: Illuminated’ was the first step in a newly developed creative platform, ‘It’s An Art’, for The Galeries Artist in Residence program and tied into the wider Christmas campaign, ‘Where there is light’.

Up next: 7 more great examples of brands getting into NFTs

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Franc.World: Empowering audiences

A set of 36 NFTs based off 12 multimedia original artworks by 10-year-old Australian artist, Franc, are on their way into the metaverse to launch on 14 February 2022.

Aussie artist, FrancCredit: Franc
Aussie artist, Franc

The collection, known as ‘Heart Strings’, has been created to raise awareness for Franc.World, a platform co-created by the Australian artist to educate and empower other Australian tween girls aged between 9 and 14.

The artworks use TikTok tutorials and Pantone colours and explore both self-love as well as importance of a loving, supportive environment. The MP4 and sensory collection is set to debut on Valentine’s Day on the OpenSea marketplace. Ten per cent of each artwork sale goes towards supporting initiatives such as the Franc Award for Art, annual Franc Report and to support charities such as Share The Dignity and Indigenous Literary Foundation.

“We want to show girls that you really can do and be anything,” Franc said. “Want to be a pilot? We interview them. Want to be a writer? Listen to our podcast. Want to be an artist? Well let’s launch an NFT collection together.”

Moulis Legal: Lead generation

Moulis Legal has claimed a legal first for Australia by providing legal services in the form of NFTs.

Moulis Legal's free services offer as an NFTCredit: Moulis Legal
Moulis Legal's free services offer as an NFT

The legal firm launched a collection of NFTs which combine Blockchain technology with legal expertise and artwork. Each NFT was minted on the Polygon network and is redeemable for an hour’s consultation with one of Moulis Legal’s specialist lawyers. The NFTs are available via the OpenSea marketplace.

Special counsel, Graeme Fearon, said Blockchain is a really exciting space to be working in. “There is so much more to it than just bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. New use-cases are being developed all the time across a staggering range of industry sectors and this will only increase as the technology matures,” he said. “We are at the forefront of harnessing blockchain’s huge potential and we are delighted to have taken this small but significant step.”

Rolling Stone magazine: Cultural memorabilia

The Brag Media released a limited edition NFT of its first-ever Rolling Stone Australia featuring homegrown global superstar, Tones And I, as she released her debut album. This was the first NFT cover for the iconic masthead in its global 53-year history.

Tones And I with her Rolling Stone NFT coverCredit: Brag Media
Tones And I with her Rolling Stone NFT cover

Those who got hold of one of 350 NFT collectable bundles, priced at $250, also received a physical copy of Rolling Stone Australia’s debut issue signed and numbered by Tones And I and an exclusive cassette. In another first, all sales of the Tones And I x Rolling Stone Australia bundle via’s new NFT Store, built in partnership with Origin’s NFT platform using Ethereum Blockchain technology, were ARIA Charts accredited.

The Brag Media CEO, Luke Girgis, said the NFT release presented a ground-breaking opportunity to further support Australian artists. “By minting an exclusive NFT of this cover to celebrate the issue and create a one-of-a-kind collectable for the NFT community, we also have an opportunity to - hopefully - help Tones And I achieve the first-ever #1 ARIA album sold as a NFT on our new store.”

Reebok: Limited edition footwear

US$260,000. That’s reportedly how much Reebok’s 300 NFTs given away to customers for free in November last year and claimed in under five minutes are worth.

The sports shoe and apparel company has released a couple of swathes of NFTs, minted to promote the launch of new trainers created in partnership with musician, A$AP Nast, and positioned as the Blockchain meeting streetwear. Two hundred of the NFTs were initially available on the Wax Atomic Hub marketplace.

 A$AP NAST’s NST2 for ReebokCredit: Reebok
A$AP NAST’s NST2 for Reebok

The latest 300 NFTs of unisex Zig A$AP NAST Kinetica II Edge shoes came in three variants to illustrate the different elements in which the shoes can be worn. The NFTs were distributed through white-label platform, RFOX, which is exclusive technology provider for Reebok and rap-fashion icon A$AP NAST’s NST2 brand, on 1 December 2021.

NWay: Olympic souvenirs

Online gaming player, nWay, jumped onto the NFTs bandwagon to coincide with the 2021 Tokyo Olympic, releasing souvenir Olympic pins as well as cross-play multiplayer video games under licence with the IOC.

The digital NFT pins banked on nostalgia, as did the full range of collectibles which recycled the art of Olympics past and posters, emblems and mascots. The NFT Olympic Pins launched with an inaugural set that formed part of the Olympic Heritage Collection celebrating the art and design of past Olympic Games over the last 125 years and graphic legacy of the world’s largest sporting event by featuring posters, emblems, pictograms and mascots.

Tokyo Olympics 2021 NFT souvenir pinCredit: nWay
Tokyo Olympics 2021 NFT souvenir pin

Collectors of the intangibles could buy them from or from other collectors in its marketplace. They also had the opportunity to earn the NFTs by playing real-time Olympic-themed video games from nWay, whose parent company is games developer, Animoca Brands.

Related: 5 ways brands are engaging with the Olympics

PepsiCo: Social media marketing

A collage of smiles took centre stage in Lay’s Romania’s NFT effort in 2021. The PepsiCo brand made its first steps into the metaverse with Smiles, an ImpactNFT composed from more than 3000 grins from Lay’s chip lovers.

The Lay's smile collageCredit: Lay's
The Lay's smile collage

The ImpactNFT was born out of an ambition to connect social marketing with Blockchain technology to deliver both community and environmental impact to blockchain natives, conscious consumers and the public, the FMCG giant said. To offset the NFT’s environmental impact, the company worked with Project Ark to mint Lay's NFT on the Polygon network, a Layer 2 protocol aimed at offering more energy-efficient transactions backed by the security of Ethereum. The ImpactNFT was available on the official Lay's OpenSea Page.

The wider ‘Share smiles with Lay's’ campaign celebrated the power of community and smiles in Romania. All proceeds from the NFT sale went to four charities focused on improving social, environmental and education in the country: Let's Do It, Romania!, i'Velo by GreenRevolution, The Adi Hădean Association, and Teach For Romania.

MotoGP: Fan engagement

High-profile sporting tournaments and groups are also increasingly represented through NFTs. MotoGP Racing is one such group, with short video vignette ‘moments’ being sold by Animoca brands as NFTs under the branding, MotoGP Ignition Hot Shots. 

Hot Shots momentsCredit: Moto Sports
Hot Shots moments

The original NFTs stemmed from highlight reels of the best MotoGP racing moments. The first Hot Shots, for example, featured the most exciting moments from the MotoGP 2021 Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar. A total of 6000 Hot Shot packs were available for purchase at US$15 per pack, each containing three Hot Shots NFTs of varying rarity and bearing a serial/print number.

MotoGP Ignition is a competitive management and collectibles game built on the Flow Blockchain and a title in the REVV Motorsport ecosystem. It’s been delivering two forms of MotoGP branded experiences centred around NFTs: A digital collectibles platform; and a racing manager game. The racing management experience of the game offered the bikes, riders and champions of MotoGP as NFTs that players use to assemble their racing teams to compete against other players. The collectible NFTs also had utility in the racing manager game.

Read more about the NFT craze and what it means for marketers in CMO's special feature on NFTs, available in our free digital magazine edition here.

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