NFT Marketing Campaigns Take a Consumer-Friendly Turn

NFT Marketing Campaigns Take a Consumer-Friendly Turn

Multifaceted Promotions Reduce the Tech Talk to Schmooze Fans of Their Brands

Franchise marketers are always on the hunt for innovative ways burnish their brands. Limited- time sales and products have always been trusted tactics, and they’ll probably stick around forever. Ditto for giveaways such as inexpensive toys, food treats and major prizes in contests and sweepstakes.

In the digital realm, NFTs, aka non-fungible tokens, may become giants in promoting buzz and loyalty for diverse brands. But marketers are shying away from using the acronym, and it’s probably a smart move. Before launching into the how’s and why’s (and precautions) of NFT use in marketing, here’s a primer on three key terms:

  • “A blockchain is a distributed database or ledger that is shared among the nodes of a computer network,” Investopedia explains. Blockchains, crucial to cryptocurrency, store information electronically in digital format. Investopedia further states that “the goal of blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed but not edited.” Blockchains, then, are a record of transactions that can’t be modified, deleted or destroyed.
  • An NFT is a blockchain-based token that represents a unique asset such as an artwork, digital content or media. “An NFT can be thought of as an irrevocable digital certificate of ownership and authenticity for a given asset, whether digital or physical,” according to Amazon Wire Services.
  • Web3 is the next evolution of the internet, according to Reader’s Digest, and Web 2.0. Web3 “is read-write-own or read-write-execute,” while Web 2.0 focuses on read-write functions.

Early NFTs from Franchises

Several franchises have already dipped their toes in NFT-related marketing, typically related to a single promotion. Burger King’s Keep It Real Meals campaign packaging had a QR code that unlocked 6 million digital collectibles. McDonald’s McRib NFT imagery celebrated the 40th anniversary of the sandwich.

McRib NFT
McDonald’s McRib NFT

Papa Johns offered NFTs as part of its international Papa X Cheddar campaign, according to QSR magazine. Taco Bell celebrated the return of potatoes to its menu with an NFT art giveaway, Business Insider reported, and Chipotle got in on the act with a digital game that gave $200,000 in three types of cryptocurrencies to winning contestants, according to QSR.

Taco Bell NFT
“Ever-Crunching Tacos” NFT from Taco Bell

The term NFT is in wide use but for many, yet the concept is still murky. NFTs are smoke-and-mirrorsy enough that they aren’t in many Americans’ everyday vernacular. And consumers are also wary of their close association with cryptocurrency, which has endured a great deal of bad press lately.

Winning Consumers Over

To be more consumer-friendly, marketers are relabeling Web3 NFT assets. For instance, AdAge points out that Starbucks has omitted the acronym NFT from the terms of use for Odyssey, its Web3-style rewards program that launched in September 2022. The rewards are called Stamps, and members are Stamp collectors.

Why the change in nomenclature? AdAge asked Chris Liquin, senior vice president of strategy with VaynerMedia’s Web3 group, Vayner3, who explained that consumers care about “ownable, personalized and immersive content” and not about the Web3 and NFTs at work in the background. Vayner3 has produced NFT collections, blockchain-based games and loyalty programs via Web3. Vayner3 President Avery Akkineni told AdAge that his company’s labels are “digital collectibles” and “digital assets” because those terms “make sure that it feels accessible to people. A lot of those technical terms can be polarizing, so we’re seeing a lot of brands move away from those.”

Brands’ new approaches integrate NFTs into their overall marketing strategies and go more interactive with virtual commerce, competitions and such, according to AdAge. Starbucks’ Odyssey loyalty program members can take fun, interactive Journeys – it’s not simply a download of an image.

Joe Klassen, CEO of the Canadian franchise Joeys Group of Restaurants, which includes Tenacious Tacos, puts that into practice. Klassen’s NFT project for his 19-units-and-growing taco franchise aims to build a following with rewards of 20% off restaurant tabs, VIP access and the ability to vote on new menu items, according to Cointelegraph.com.

Strength and Potential of NFT Marketing

Sara Senatore, managing director and senior analyst for Bank of America Global Research/restaurants, told AdAge that Web3 loyalty programs are enticing because members become more engaged overall and more excited about exclusive offers than with traditional marketing in brick-and-mortar sites. Another benefit: Akkineni said Web3 communities could also serve as focus groups, giving feedback to the brand.

The takeaway is that the digital world has seemingly boundless potential. For example, a Pennsylvania based chicken-and-waffle franchise took its Web3 initiative beyond consumer marketing. Last June, the Chick’nCone franchise launched its Chick’nCoin NFTs that aim to boost development of franchise sites. Entrepreneurs who buy Chick’nCoins can redeem them for discounts on royalties and franchising fees. Chick’nCone CEO Jonathan Almanzar told QSRmagazine: “I don’t know about the near future … but I could see franchise agreements becoming NFTs.”

Clearly this digital frontier extends far beyond giveaways and anniversary celebrations. Venerated brand such as Coca-Cola, Gucci, Lamborghini, Macy’s, Major League Baseball, Meta, Pepsi and Prada have tested the water with NFT campaigns. And the franchises that have previously waded in will probably soon dive much deeper… but with marketing terminology that consumers can be comfortable with.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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