CANNES, FRANCE — “The biggest reason why we struggle with what an NFT is because all of us — including myself — bring our internet brain to the blockchain,” Gary Vee of VaynerX and VaynerMedia opened the session on “The NFT Revolution and what that means for Brands” with this quote at the recently held Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity at the Côte d’Azur.
Together with Paris Hilton, CEO of 11:11 Media, and one of the first celebrities that embraced Web3, they spoke about the three important tenets of Web3, and how our industry can start playing around with it.
This was just one of the many eye-opening experiences I had at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
A lot of what I experienced at Cannes was about giving that extra — either missing or misplaced — piece-of-the-puzzle to really push a more holistic view of things: whether it was about Web3, NFTs, where retail is going, influencer 3.0, eCommerce & media, craft, or ideation. All to make the work matter; to create ideas that matter.
To be deliberately disconnected from everything back home, with the intention to be a student of the world, was quite refreshing. It was the feeling that the best and greatest minds were coming together, exchanging ideas about these topics — whether inside a huge auditorium or on a terrace with an apéritif looking over the French Riviera. There was a lot of unpacking of perspectives, approaches, and the continued pursuit of questions happening in every session.
A lot of these sessions were devoted to walking people through the theory and application of Web3, blockchain technology, and NFTs.
Here are some key takeaways that I thought important to take in:
Mindset — An approach when entering the Web3 habitat was put very simply by Gary (paraphrased): “This isn’t the internet that you know, and so understanding it from that perspective (rather than from what the blockchain’s spirit is) would be pointless.”
Instead, simply put, Web3 utilizes the blockchain — which is essentially a (new) technology, that enables real ownership of a digital asset to happen. Compared to Web2, where dual communication (only) happens in building communities, Web3 goes beyond community-building and introduces a way for you to certify ownership of a digital asset for any use-case (or utility) you can think of.
Utility — Today, the popular use of this tech is by way of 1) certifying ownership of a piece of digital art, or 2) for a status symbol, community-participation, trading, and/or collecting. And while it seems ridiculous today that the most expensive NFT art piece is priced at $91.8 million (“The Merge”) this is merely one of the very early use-cases of the technology and that’s fine.
Community & Value — What is also interesting about the technology is its ability to author/assign value to the utility, and have the community co-value the asset. Paris Hilton talked about how the upcoming remix of her “Stars are Blind” hit, and reimagined that into a Metaverse-first application. She envisioned how that approach could enable an early-adopting community (of fans) to participate in an extraordinary way. They don’t just generate new (perpetual) revenue streams (imagine buying a 1 out of 100 piece of a Paris Hilton asset, and trading that forever) but the community also guards the value of the asset because of its ability to be traded in the future, as one of many use-cases or utility.
Intellectual Property — The last tenet is one that impacts legal and the brand’s openness (and bravery) to let the community play around with a brand’s asset. Paris Hilton showcases how letting go of some brand assets, enables the community to really thrive — duetting her song with metaverse stars and minting collectibles, to name a few. The future of brand playbooks may rely on brands’ clarity and consistency on their brand values, and how shared-community interprets that.
It is quite early to really define what Web3 can do for all of us as citizens and all of us as marketers. But it is definitely not early to research; to get your hands dirty and play with this new habitat.
JC Valenzuela is the founder and CEO of independent ad agency Propel Manila, “is a hot-wired entrepreneur with a culture-first mindset and a penchant for digging deep into how tech can scale solutions and compound capability.