The development of the NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace has taken the world by storm. By the end of 2021, Bloomberg estimates the global NFT marketplace is worth more than $40 billion and the market is currently demonstrating few signs of slowing down. Even with the occasional fluctuations of the adjacent cryptocurrency market (like Ethereum), NFTs continue to demonstrate their value to consumers, companies, and—perhaps most interestingly—celebrities alike.
As the world continues to become more digital—and a growing portion of our interactions and transactions take place entirely online—NFTs will continue to become more valuable. But for NFTs to move from the periphery of the general public and become as “mainstream” as, say, an autographed baseball or photo with a movie star, they will need to have advocates who have high visibility.
Luckily, this visibility is already growing—fast. Celebrities, many of whom have platforms with tens or even hundreds of millions of followers, have helped push NFTs into the public spotlight. In this article, we will discuss why NFTs are so conducive to celebrity branding and will also take a look at some of the most interesting celeb NFT launches to date.
Why Are Celebrities So Interested in NFTs?
As long as there have been celebrities, there has been an interest in celebrity interactions and merchandise—in fact, a recent archeology venture in Austria revealed evidence of gladiator merchandise from the era of Ancient Rome. Celebrities have the unique capacity to reach a wide audience and, naturally, people will be interested in both them and items that are in some way connected to them.
As time has gone on, celebrity merchandising has become even more important. Over the course of his career, Michael Jordan—arguably the greatest basketball player of all time—earned about $94 million total through his NBA contracts. Jordan, however, would eventually become a billionaire, largely due to his incredible ability to brand and market himself. Other celebrities have taken note and even if they do not have the star power and name recognition of Jordan, they know that personal branding can often be the clearest path to wealth.
And the development of NFTs, undoubtedly, has opened an entirely new door to this sort of branding. The NFT marketplace makes it possible for things that were once intangible—like a celebrity interaction—to become tangible and it also makes it possible for items—such as a single image—to be given to an exclusive owner.
We are only a short way into the NFT era, but celebrities of all kinds are beginning to find ways to create non-fungible value in this exciting and dynamic marketplace:
Celebrity NFT Launches
Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk is known for taking big risks and often doing things that no boarder has ever done before—naturally, he saw the NFT marketplace as the perfect fit for him. Recently, Tony announced plans to auction off his “last-ever 540-degree ollie”, a signature trick that he admits he is no longer comfortable doing. Through the use of an NFT, the winner of the auction will have the exclusive right to the footage, as verified by the blockchain.
Nashville rock band Kings of Leon recently made headlines for becoming the first-ever group to send an NFT into space. The group’s song “Time in Disguise” was minted into an NFT, auctioned to the public, and loaded onto an iPhone that was then sent into space via a SpaceX flight. The entire project was able to draw a significant amount of attention to the band, the NFT marketplace, to SpaceX, and—perhaps of all—was able to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
— Kings Of Leon (@KingsOfLeon) March 15, 2021
Steve Aoki, an extremely popular DJ, has always been admired by fans for his epic beat drops—so dropping an NFT is something that came entirely naturally for Steve, an outspoken believer in the power of NFTs and digital assets, in general. After teaming up with renowned visual artist Antonio Tudisco, the pair was able to earn more than $4.3 million. Aoki—an avid collector—has recently said he is interested in other NFT projects, as well, recently describing the marketplace as “an opportunity to finally merge art, collectible culture, and music in a way I’ve never been able to realize before.”
Grimes—an artist and musician who is known for pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box—has one of the most successful celebrity NFT launches to date. After partnering with her brother, fellow creative Mac Boucher, she issued a series of NFT-minted digital works of art that were dubbed “War Nymphs.” The digital art series, mostly consisting of babies flying through space with weapons and other objects, was eventually able to garnish more than $6 million.
Known for some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the past few decades, Quentin Tarantino knows how to capture an audience. His handwritten screenplay for the “Royale with Cheese” scene—one of the most iconic scenes in the classic film Pulp Fiction—was minted into an NFT and auctioned to his fans. According to the NFT launch, “Alongside the screenplay, is a recording of Quentin Tarantino revealing details only available to the owner.” Despite some possible copyright challenges, the piece has been described as “a piece of cinema history.”
Jack Dorsey, the billionaire founder of Twitter and Block (formerly known as Square), was able to generate an incredible $2.9 million by auctioning off his first tweet (the first tweet) in March 2021. Though the content of the Tweet itself—“just setting up my twttr”—is not particularly exciting, it is undoubtedly an important piece of internet history that has now been turned into a tangible (and valuable) collectible.
An Increasingly Digital Future
The world of digital collectibles is rapidly expanding—and the celebrity promotion of NFTs is, without a doubt, playing a critical role in this expansion. These are just a few examples of how celebrities have used NFTs to help promote their brand and generate significant amounts of money.
And it’s not just celebrities who are getting in on the fun—brands of all kinds are discovering the benefits of using NFTs every day.