The Sunday Drip #11 | The good, the bad, and the ugly of corporate NFTs
What's the verdict on corporate NFTs so far? Is anyone doing well?
Welcome to The Sunday Drip from the Sunday:Drip Society crew. Each Thursday, we’ll breakdown a broad web3 topic and share our thoughts on what’s really happening beneath the surface.
In the past few months, large companies have been dropping NFTs left and right, from Pepsi to Toys R Us to Coachella. Some have sold well, and some have not (you eventually got there Bud Light!), but one thing is for sure: no one has any idea what to do with NFTs. Except you, RTFKT.
We are in a very exciting period of rapid experimentation with NFTs. Corporations are aping in, and selling out (both the projects and their fans). If you have been in NFTs for a little while, you already know that selling out has nothing to do with the long term success of a project.
Let’s take a deep dive into the most relevant NFT projects that have been dropped by companies I arbitrarily define as corporations (yes, to slight them a little). I want to start with the ugly and make my way to the good (if there are any). I am going to try to be extra critical and constructive at the same time. Each of the internal teams that launched these projects deserves credit for moving quickly, and hopefully if they read my incredible award-winning writing, they can still right the ship.
Let’s get into it!
Pepsi - The Mic Drop
Pepsi was one of the first major corporations (a huge win for web3) to launch a real on-chain NFT when they dropped “The Mic Drop” genesis NFT collection on 12/14/21, in collaboration with VaynerNFT (Gary Vee’s company). The mint was free to the first 1,843 people to fill out a form, but quickly the price shot up to around 1.5 ETH on secondary.
If you’re looking for hot takes and
cold Pepsi missed opportunities, you’ve come to the right place.
The art is good. The mics are fun. I get it, mic drop is a drop of mics. There is a lot of symbolism in the properties and the NFTs look like they were designed by the same person who designed the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime show art (more on that later). They are on Rarity Tools, they have stories about the “strong connection Pepsi has to music,” and they use the word “degen” on their website. The NFTs themselves were a really strong start for Pepsi into the NFT space except… there’s no utility. Like nothing. There’s not even a Discord or Twitter dedicated to the collection. Pepsi doesn’t get a pass for this because they had time to figure this out and drop something amazing. They are a bad look for NFTs. These are in their purest form, jpegs.
I know, I know, that is what their NFTs were supposed to be and Pepsi gave them away for free. But WHY ON EARTH did they include this in the description: “pays homage to our love of pop stars and musical legends while setting the stage for what’s to come in the world of Pepsi NFTs. This will be a Mic Drop of epic proportions!”? There was no epic mic drop, and they had the PERFECT opportunity to introduce the world to the interesting utility that can come with NFT ownership, but no. These were just free jpegs.
Verdict: Missed Opportunity. (I’ll get more clever as we go on) This isn’t a “McDonald’s only carrying Coke” missed opportunity, but it’s a miss nonetheless. Pepsi had the opportunity to connect their NFT holders to the halftime show in some fun way. Maybe an announcement, maybe a tweet during the Super Bowl. Anything. The Pepsi marketing team has to have an entire hard drive of “surprise and delight” ideas that they could test out on their NFT holders.
Pepsi needs to think of their NFT holders as a marketing campaign on their own. You can already see the headlines “Pepsi sends 100 of its NFT holders to the Super Bowl” or “All Pepsi NFT holders get to select one of the following experiences.” If Pepsi can flex some of the perks it already has on its holders, then the floor would sky rocket, creating a super loyal, brand advocate group at the same time. If they can find a mix of giveaways and benefits for all holders, they could continue to expand their NFT reach. For now, it’s an ugly miss for me.
Seattle Kraken NFT (and every OrangeComet NFT) - There were a few major flaws with this collection. First, the NFTs are really just priced higher than normal luxury ticket package experiences. The NFT doesn’t really add anything. Second, OrangeComet creates a custodial wallet for you, meaning the NFT is trapped in that wallet on their platform. Third, there were multiple copies of the same NFTs. Bonus fourth, you could only purchase in USD. Not a great NFT experience overall. They did not sell out.
Taco Bell NFT - I’ll give Taco Bell a ton of credit for launching this collection in March of 2021 (they might not deserve this Ugly ranking), but the issue I have is that their 5 NFTs are all 1 of 5 editions. Having multiple copies of the same collectable type NFT is not great in my opinion. The designs were very cool/unique. I don’t believe there was any utility. Just make them 1 of 1s and I am fine with it.
Pringles NFT - Same comment as above. They hired a great artist in Vasya Kolotusha, and issued 50 versions of the same NFT that comes with no utility. So meh.
The bad is a tough category for me. I would like to rename it “the meh” category. These collections aren’t really bad, I mean at least they tried, but their projects are boring. Many of the projects that fall into this category are the “proceeds go to charity” collections, the “collectables but who cares” collections, and the “putting in less than what they got out” collections.
Coachella - Coachella Collectibles NFTs
Coachella dropped 3 collections of NFTs, the Coachella Keys Collection, Sights and Sounds Collection, and Desert Reflections Collection. Coachella’s collection was slightly bad. It just barely stayed in the bad category, but not all of it was completely bad. To analyze it I need to break it up into two categories.
Sights and Sounds Collection and Desert Reflections Collection
There were 10,000 S&S NFTs and 1,000 DR NFTs available for mint. These were very bad.
For S&S, there were 1,000 copies of 10 NFTs. The image and the sound were the exact same for all 1,000 copies. With each copy the buyer could receive an exact physical print of the photo in the NFT. Not sure why they just didn’t sell the photo with an NFT, but yeah. I guess these are NFTs.
For DR, there were 100 copies of 10 images. The images were all the same with no variation. The artist was really impressive and they were exclusively digital. With each copy the buyer could receive a physical copy of Coachella | The Photographs: 1999-2019, an over 400-page coffee table book. Great, same question as before why NFT first? Oh wait.. NFT=high price.
I guess at least these come with Discord, which is nice for festival goers. But overall these two collections fall into the “collectables but who cares” and the “putting in less than what they got out” category of bad. Maybe Coachella will do something for the holders, probably not though.
Coachella Keys Collection
The Keys collection was actually executed in a way that appropriately utilizes NFTs. Each key “includes passes to one festival weekend every April and Coachella produced virtual experiences… forever. These keys also include unique experiences. There’s no telling what else these NFT keys will unlock in the near future.” While these were, wildly overpriced, the unique experiences and the lifetime Coachella access was really well done. I didn’t love the auction, but some included the ability to go on stage during a 2022 performance. After 2022, they flip into lifetime access, and they left the door open for the future. I see Coachella dropping a group of these keys each year for a while.
Verdict: Coachella, you’re doing it! Coachella dropped a mixed bag of good and bad. Most of what they did shouldn’t have required an NFT execution, but the keys ended up being a very cool way for a festival to utilize NFTs. I am looking forward to more festivals releasing NFTs to develop fan communities and deliver unique and fun experiences. This execution still lands in bad because they really auctioned off only 10 big experiences, and the rest was mostly bad. They are learning though.
Adidas Into The Metaverse collection - It’s not bad…yet. It’s just meh. They issued 30k NFTs!! Public sale was 0.2 ETH. The NFT gives exclusive free BAYC and PUNKS Comic physical merchandise to all 21.8k owners (“exclusive”). They had a collaboration with Prada, Re-Source, but that really didn’t amount to anything for the Adidas holders. Their whole execution feels disjointed. Did we really just buy merch and the promise of future NFTs?
There are also promises for metaverse experiences, but that is way down the road. This was a massive launch that so far has produced basically nothing for the holders. Adidas had a TON of firepower behind this with Punks, BAYC, and gmoney, but right now they are getting lapped over and over by Nike/RTFKT. Oh, and they just lost Ben Mayor-White, a massive loss for their strategy team. I wonder why he left?
Macy’s Parade NFT collection - These fall into the “proceeds go to charity” category, which is fineee. The proceeds all benefit the Make-a-Wish foundation, which I love (big if true). But collectible is all this NFT collection was. Again fineee.
Budweiser Royalty NFT Drop - Budweiser issued their Royalty NFTs to “celebrate 22 emerging artists.” The drop had a great mission, supporting artists directly (big if true) and potentially unlocking exclusive experiences with them. I love supporting the artists, don’t love the raffle for utility. This falls into the “proceeds go to charity” and “putting in less than what they got out” category. Bud basically made people pay to support their artist partnership. Free marketing for them. Boo. Also, why do these companies insist on selling duplicate art?
*Special Field of Dreams Category*
Some brands have dropped collections with very cool experiences and collectible missions with the hopes of unlocking something bigger for the collector. I honestly like the creativity, but the way these play out lands these in the Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come” category. If they execute what they say they will, and they execute it well, this could be great for their NFT holders. If they don’t, they can live here in the bad place.
The Gap - Gap Threads
Gap dropped their Gap Threads collection which is essentially a collector game where certain NFTs, when collected together, can earn you NFT and IRL merch. This is a great and fun way to use NFTs, but it’s a dangerous game to play, and is very close to a “putting in less than what they got out” categorization. It’s not that, because other collectors can corner the market and extract the value themselves. The NFTs are cool looking, but the Gap needs to make sure they actually deliver the value to the holder. If the holder spends all this time collecting and paying for high-priced NFTs and gets a less valuable NFT in return, or some shoddy merch, this will be a bad experience.
So far, so good. The collab with FRANK APE is a great Epic NFT for the Gap collectors, but we’ll keep our eyes on this one to see if they actually build something of value. I am actually a little confused with how it all works. After you merge your 4 Commons and 2 Rares, you get a “special” NFT. The next step says to “buy an Epic NFT to claim your IRL merch”. I am not actually sure how you get the Epic NFTs or the IRL merch. I actually think the Epic NFTs are duplicates of each other.
Verdict: Didn’t Build. Overall confusing, landing itself in the bad category, but they could still improve by making the Epic NFTs actually 1 of 1s. Just an okay first attempt. More of a “if they built it, they would have come, but they didn’t so now we’re here” and I feel like this is case closed for the Gap.
Atari The GFT Shoppe collection - Another gamified NFT collection. “Each GFT is a limited collection. On a specified date, GFTs unwrap, and holders will find out exactly what’s inside their GFT surprise gift box.” If you hold multiple GFTs, you can buy a 5th surprise GFT. The surprise GFT is based on the rarity of the other GFTs. There are game competitions for holders. There is more to come in the metaverse (join the club). Overall, I would say this could be good, but I have a feeling the surprise won’t be worth the build up. These reveal 2/28, so maybe, hopefully, I am wrong.
Bud Light NEXT NFT - Another fairly new NFT, they hopefully had the chance to learn from Budweiser before launching (actually the strategies are basically converging, so I’ll skip the Budweiser Heritage Cans NFT). The NFTs are pedestrian looking. There was some fun rarity integrated into the collection like the 100 Diamond NFTs. They started out slow with, “if you
give us free marketingchange your pfp to Bud Light, we’ll give $5 off” promos for holders. That was honestly bad. But it has been getting better. They did a collab with the Nouns project for the Super Bowl (only NFT appearance) and then gave away Nouns glasses to every holder. Love. Fun. And now they have been dropping POAPs and organizing IRL meet ups in the Discord. This one has high hopes.. for a major beer brand. If they build it, it will move to good for me.
I will spare you another story about RTFKT and Nike. They are the best. This “the good” category should be called “the good category presented by RTFKT.”
Cameo - Cameo Pass
Honestly, this was tough to put them into “the Good” because they are so new, but the Cameo team did an excellent job of blending what people love about NFTs with what Cameo has to offer as a company.
The Cameo pass features limited release NFTs from artists Burnt Toast (Doodles artist), Vinnie Hager, and Luke McGarry. Burnt Toast is a huge feature since Doodles is so popular, but all 3 of the artists are phenomenal. Cameo promises to “bring together an engaged community of stars and fans that only Cameo could bring together.” I trust them on this one, but I am skeptical of the stars involvement.
They go on to promise that holders can “get on the list for celebrity Q&As, Meet & Greets, launch parties at the Cameo House in Beverly Hills, and some events that have never been attempted before. And access to exclusive merch and beta Cameo products, as well as our metaverse compound.” Now normally, I wouldn’t believe in these promises, but this is exactly what Cameo does in the first place. I remain skeptical, but I love this as a corporate NFT.
Verdict: Leader of the pack. The Cameo Pass is an excellent blend of what Cameo does well and and well thought-out NFT. I see value extending to holders for a long period of time and I applaud the Cameo team. If they can execute well, and continuously deliver value to holders, they will create a loyal group of advocates that will grow their brand and reputation. It is key for them to earn trust early. If they see success, expect other brands to copy their model.
StockX Collect What’s Next - StockX’s program allows collectors to “own the most popular releases digitally and start saving on fees (and closet space). Each Vault NFT is tied to the same physical item, stored in our brand new, climate-controlled, high-security vaults inside StockX facilities.” Brilliant. They land in good, but didn’t get a feature because the concept has been done before, it just makes sense for StockX to have followed fast.
The NFL Souvenir Ticket NFTs - Another no brainer for me. People already collect tickets and NFTs allow them to collect specific digital ticket stubs. Great to see them lead on this concept. Kudos for dropping this on the Super Bowl (suck it Pepsi NFTs).
Coca-Cola Friendship Loot Box NFT - Coke auctioned a 1 of 1 loot box NFT that sold for 217 ETH. “The Friendship Box reimagines a vintage Coca-Cola cooler with dynamic motion and illumination featuring three other NFTs inside: a custom-designed Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket to be worn in the Decentraland 3D virtual reality platform; a Sound Visualizer illustrating the recognizable sonics of enjoying a Coca-Cola; and a Coca-Cola Friendship Card with refreshed artwork from 1948. The winning bidder also will receive an in-real-life, fully stocked Coca-Cola refrigerator.” AND the proceeds benefitted the Special Olympics (big if true). “Prior to the auction launch, Coca-Cola hosted a “can-top” party in Decentraland on International Friendship Day (July 30) featuring music, giveaways and a first look at the Friendship Box.” Extremely cool. Great use of a 1 of 1 NFT. High marks all around.
That’s all I got. Maybe too much writing, but I hope it was interesting.
Okay a small point.
There will be 5x more of these NFTs coming from major companies and hopefully each learns from previous mistakes. My biggest advice to NFT strategy teams is to deliver more value than you extract from your holders and you will be rewarded with brand loyalty and brand advocates. A strong community drives a high floor and will become an exclusive club that does your marketing for you. Learn from the BAYC and of course, learn from RTFKT.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Let me know! Possibly some typos.