NFTs and the Metamorphosis of the Business World

Vivek Bhatia | February 9, 2022 | Wealth

December 13, 2021: Nike just did it.

While other big brands were still crawling, Nike took a giant leap of faith in technology and announced their collaboration with RTFKT studios marking their entry in the metaverse. John Donahoe, President and CEO of NIKE, Inc. said in an official press note, “This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture.”


In April 2019, Nike filed a trademark in the US for the term ‘CryptoKicks’. This allowed them to patent their shoes as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. Moreover, users could now trade or sell the tangible pair of shoes or store them if they’d like, in their crypto wallet as a collectible.

Come November, 2021 – Nike launched ‘Nike Land,’ a mini-verse where fans of the brand could connect, compete and share experiences in an immersive 3D space. This experience was built on Roblox, an online gaming platform that allows users to program games and play games created by other users.

NIKELAND on Roblox

At the time Nike was making headway into the metaverse, RTFKT (pronounced ‘Artifact’) studios – creators of virtual sneakers and collectibles, sold 621 pairs of customized sneakers in approximately 7 minutes, clocking a net profit of ~$3.1miliion. They collaborated with an 18-year-old crypto artist, Fewocious, for this project. Needless to say, Nike felt the shockwaves and rest as we know, is the present. RTFKT was an addition to Nike’s utility belt, which already boasts of Jordan and Converse.  

What Nike is doing with the NFT and Metaverse space is also being done by some of its biggest competitors – Adidas and Under Armour. 

Adidas announced a partnership with the ‘Bored Ape Yacht Club’ project – one of the most prominent NFT collections out there. The brand has also roped in big NFT influencers like ‘GMoney’. 

On the other hand, Under Armour dropped their Sneaker NFT project in honor of Golden State Warrior Steph Curry’s three-point record. The NFT was a replica of the Curry Flow 9 model that Curry wore when he broke that record and there’s 2,974 copies for each of three-pointers that cost $333. Owners of these NFTs can display their tokens in the metaverse when they engage with other communities to do business or just plain brag.

While Nike definitely has the first-movers advantage, it will be interesting to see what other brands cook up in this massive metaverse that is yet to be defined and regulated.

Into the Metaverse

The Metaverse is touted to be the next step in the internet’s evolution – or Web 3.0 as many would like to call it. It’s the convergence of physical, augmented and virtual reality in a shared online space, wherein participants get the opportunity to play, work, connect or even shop for things that can be owned. Think of how we upgrade our daily lifestyle – we workout and get points to redeem further benefits or when we buy that shiny new gadget or piece of clothing that’s available in the market to take great pictures and look good. We can do all of that and more in the metaverse – almost mimicking the real-life social status structures to that of a virtual one. 

And when the consumers are flocking to this new digital world, why would the brands not follow suit? 

Facebook is no longer a Social Media company. They even changed their name to Meta. Mark Zuckerberg claims he will transform it into a full-blown metaverse company in the next 5 to 10 years. Facebook already has a couple of products that will bring us closer to the metaverse. Take for example ‘Facebook Horizon’ – that empowers the user to explore virtual worlds and even create their own, connect with other users and participate in challenges. There’s even ‘Facebook Workrooms’ – a collaborative experience that enables people to work in the same virtual room, regardless of physical distance. Taking a cue from this – Zoo Media, a homegrown Marketing and Advertising entity, conducted their first-ever meeting in the metaverse. They chose to convene in the Swiss Alps.

Collaborative virtual reality space called Workrooms by Facebook

ABG (Authentic Brands Group), a global brand development, marketing and entertainment company owns the right to distribute content featuring Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhamad Ali. They partnered with Binance and NF Kings to create a collection of Marilyn Monroe NFTs on the Ethernity blockchain ecosystem. 

Mattel, the Amercian multi-national, partnered with NFT brand VeeFriends to launch an UNO deck featuring 17 of Gary Veynerchuk’s most popular characters, including Charming Cheetah, Sweet Swan and Gary Bee. That’s a draw four move, right there. 

And then there are brands who have chosen to take the goodness route. 

Taco Bell launched the ‘Transformative Taco’ project via Rarible, another NFT marketplace. While the owner of these NFTs received $500 worth e-gift cards, the proceeds were donated to Live Más Scholarship, which supports young people’s education and career readiness. In the same vein, Coca-Cola with it’s ‘Loot Box’ collectibles, donated the proceeds to Special Olympics International, a long-time partner of the iconic brand. 

It’s clear that brands are experimenting with various creative strategies whilst entering this market. Some have tied up with fellow NFT-artists, while others have created proprietary products and spaces for their communities to thrive.

In India, ICC (International Cricket Council) is following the NBA Top Shot model and have collaborated with Faze to release most popular cricketing moments as NFTs. Leading media conglomerate Viacom 18’s YME (Youth Music & Entertainment) vertical announced their foray into the NFT world with their proprietary digital destination, which has been set up by Guardian Link – an innovator in NFT technologies. This marketplace will offer art conceptualized by the brains behind MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central in India. The project goes Live on the 14th of February, 2022. One can simply go to their site, join the waitlist and participate in the auction.

ICC x Faze ‘Digital Collectibles’

Gaming in the Metaverse.

Afterall, the virtual universe of a game is the foundation of the metaverse. The coins, connections, competitions – all of it breathes life into your digital avatar. The only difference now is that users will get to sport dynamic Jordans, Gucci bags and Monroe tees whilst playing their favourite games. 

Fortnite – a famous Battle Royale game – has already launched 5 different virtual concerts. Travis Scott’s avatar was part of one of those concerts. This convergence with culture makes Metaverse the next big goldmine for various industries. 

Sill wondering If you must take the plunge? I’d say:

Just Do It.  


Text by Vivek Bhatia

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