Welcome to the Wild West. On December 17, Adidas’ Into the Metaverse drop with digital artist Gmoney, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, and Punks Comics last December 17 sold 29,620 NFTs — non-fungible tokens — netting collaborators more than $22 million from an afternoon of sales. And they didn’t sell a single shoe.
“It’s so refreshing to see a culturally influential brand like Adidas Originals work so closely hand-in-hand with the NFT community,” Gmoney said about working closely with the brand behind the scenes. “At every step, they’ve included the right partners from the crypto, Metaverse, and NFT community and listened to their thoughts at an early stage.”
No matter how strange or new they may seem, NFT’s have become an established part of art and commercial culture in just the last year. In essence, an NFT is a digital receipt that certifies the unique ownership of a digital asset. NFT’s grant individual control of online objects. These can include paintings, gifs, and videos as well as personal graphic items like shoes, shirts, and other gear. Into the Metaverse, for instance, offered online gear and token membership to a very exclusive fan club connected to special merch drops.
These NFT’s exist in shared worlds — the collection of metaverse platforms that developers hope lead to Web3 — the internet’s third iteration. NFTs are one of the pillars of this vision to reshape the internet into a more cooperative space. Adidas, now a Web3 forerunner, is encouraging members to shape products and experiences for its wider metaverse community.
“As part of our ambition to celebrate ideas that are defining a new age of originality, we’ve landed at the forefront of creativity, which is the open Metaverse,” Erika Wykes-Sneyd, vice president of Adidas originals marketing and communications Erika Wykes-Sneyd said. “It’s a natural place for Adidas Originals to enter: A wild world where possibilities are truly limitless and where anyone can express and be rewarded for their most original ideas.”
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That emergence began with a partnership with already established brands like Bored Ape. The digital creators began with 10,000 NFT ape avatars last year, all featuring different ‘personalities.’ The cost for an original? 71 ether or about $267,000. Members include Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Steph Curry, and Snoop Dogg.
— m0rgan.ethᵍᵐ 💎🙆🏼♀️🆘 (@Helloimmorgan) December 31, 2021
Adidas opened this platform to the proletariat in mid-December, offering tickets to the club for about $765. This leveling of access is what has branding strategist Anne Olderog excited about Web3’s potential.
“My perspective is a huge world of falling boundaries,” Vivaldi branding strategist Anne Olderog said.
Vivaldi, a large, independent global strategy and business transformation firm, spoke to The Manual to relate Vivaldi CEO and founder Erich Joachimsthaler’s vision of the metaverse as an opportunity for the company’s clients to transform and succeed in this new digital world. In his book, The Interaction Field, Joachimstaler posits a shift from competition and disruption to collaboration, participation, and engagement, with a focus on interactions rather than transactions.
“The metaverse is much better suited to community building that is at the core of human pursuits. Nike is not selling sneakers. They’re creating an opportunity for somebody to express themselves and create a life unencumbered by the boundaries of the physical world,” Olderog said.
Physical objects lose resonance as limitless creative opportunities arise.
“In a traditional business models pipeline, it’s me trying to sell you something,” Olderog said. “(Metaverse) platforms derive the value not from the transaction, but from an exchange across the ecosystem. It’s an ecosystem not dominated by players, but shared and generating broad models.”
Olderog has over 20 years of branding experience with Fortune 500 companies, authored a book about Barack Obama’s brand of post-modern politics, and wrote a prize-winning work on changing cultural values and emerging societal trends in the internet age, particularly the opportunity that Web3 presents.
“The equity barrier and the hurdle that it represents in our society and our world. In the Metaverse, there’s an opportunity for a completely open playing field. Everyone is welcome.”
For Olderog, blockchain enables complete transparency on the origins of products and of participants, open communication that eliminates the need for internet gatekeepers.
“The opportunity with Web3 is to create better communities — how to bring the right people to the conversation and take the wrong people out,” Olderog.
There’s endless opportunity for self-expression and building of new culture — as long as you have a reliable connection to the internet and the initial funds to invest.
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