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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become one of the hot topics for marketers but few brands are really getting it right in the metaverse. The Drum and Adcolony brought together experts from Coca-Cola, Dole and VaynerNFT to talk about how they’ve had successes and how other brands can get started.

Speaking at The Drum Digital Summit, Adcolony's senior vice president APAC, Tom Simpson, says brands can either think about NFTs as a part of the promotional or customer relationship management (CRM) mix, or they can seek to make money from them by selling them.

“NFTs can be used as membership cards, so you can just plug in all of your thinking around CRM programs or you can even collaborate with existing NFTs which have Creative Commons licenses, where you can collaborate and get that cultural capital around NFTs for free. Where you're thinking about selling NFTs, which is the answer for many brands, whether it's a sports team selling membership tokens or luxury brands selling things online, there's a big crossover with option one. So for marketers, you need digital assets to be a part of the NFT culture out there, but the key is thinking about what a brand is trying to do with NFTs,” he says.

Some brands may be put off taking the leap into NFTs at this early stage because of the size of the community, says Avery Akkineni, president, VaynerNFT, but being embedded in the community early on could grant a brand authenticity to play within the metaverse space.

“There is a subculture building, which today is very, very small. Very, very, very, very, very small. For Opensea, for example, there are about 200,000 active users per month on the platform. If you think about brand objectives, for most of the clients I've ever worked with, 200 million per day is more like the objectives we go after. So I think it's small right now but if you look at the market adoption curve that always happens with new technology, we haven't even reached early adopter status,” she says.

This is why brands like Coca-Cola and Dole have already launched successful projects using NFTs. As examples, the execution and insights behind the activity show that brands can differentiate in this space with the common thread being to stay true to brand values and business objectives.

Coca-Cola recently launched a major new brand platform of which the entire creative storytelling is around this blurring of the metaverse and real-life, placing Coca-Cola as the 'magic between all of it'.

Speaking on the panel, Pratik Thakar, global creative director, Coca-Cola, says, “We wanted to make sure that we were not doing this for making money out of NFTs, so we decided all the money we make will go into the Special Olympics. Coca-Cola has a very long relationship with Special Olympics. It's purposeful and it makes perfect sense to connect all the dots because those bigger partnerships and big assets like Special Olympics haven’t been connected with the metaverse and NFTs. That’s a job I think a brand like Coke can do, bring our thinking together with all those disconnected elements. It’s a huge opportunity as a brand and as a community.”

For Dole, the entire mission was wrapped around the brand’s purpose of taking healthy nutrition to all, but the brand knew it was embarking on a steep learning curve.

Rupen Desai, chief marketing officer of Dole, explains, “We learned that we don't know what we don't know. We learned how to set up digital worlds, how to get Boys and Girls Club of America to set up digital wallets, and that our normal platforms of communication (Facebook, Instagram etc) don't apply to a lot of the collectors that we want to talk to. Instead, we learned how to operate in Reddit, who the crypto influencers were and how to launch in the Decentraland. We learned how to carbon offset the minting process because, for us, that was hugely important. We cannot talk about our purpose and then, because of one activity, create additional carbon footprint.”

To see the full panel and to find out how NFT fuses together gaming, commerce and mobile, visit The Drum Digital Summit website.