NFTs stepped into the limelight in 2021 with a number of projects achieving multi-million-dollar valuations and sales. But proponents of the blockchain-based tokens say that their true value goes beyond what super-rich collectors will pay for digital works of art. They have the potential to create entirely new classes of virtual assets as well as revolutionize existing markets in physical, real-world goods.
The total value of NFTs sold last year was over $14 billion, but that could look like small change if global brands continue to enthusiastically adopt the technology, applying it to everything from luxury clothing to $25,000 bottles of whisky.
Many NFT projects appearing today are labeling themselves as "utility NFTs," meaning they have some use or function beyond simply being a piece of artwork or other digital data represented by a token on a blockchain. But before we start, just a quick disclaimer – it's currently possible to invest money into many of these projects, but please don’t take their inclusion here as a suggestion that I think it would be a good idea to do so. I am not a financial adviser, and I've picked them out because I think the ideas behind them are interesting – not because I think they are going to grow in value.
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest, most innovative, and the just plain strangest NFT projects that are out there today!
The idea here is to use the sale of NFTs to fund various real-world projects that will be of interest to coffee lovers – including a real-world coffee shop in New York and sustainability initiatives throughout the coffee-growing world. It will develop its own coffees that will be entered into awards in search of recognition, and all of this will be done through the sale of character NFTs with names like Sherlock Foams and Boba Bao.
William Grant and Son distillers, owners of the Glenfiddich whisky brand, sold 15 bottles of an ultra-rare 46-year-old whisky for $18,000 apiece, each one accompanied by its own NFT. The idea here is that the NFT is used to track the provenance of the bottles and their contents, which were sold as investments to collectors. The bottles themselves are retained in the custody of the company and can only be redeemed when the buyer transfers ownership of the NFT back to them. This means that a future buyer will be reassured that they are getting a genuine article when they buy the NFT themselves. You can find out more about this from my conversation with Will Peacock of William Grant and Sons and BlockBar, the company that provided the technological solution.
Kevin Smith’s Killroy Was Here
The filmmaker famous for cult hits including Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has said he will release his next movie – a horror-comedy - as a series of NFTs. Due to release later this year, the project will consist of 5,555 separate NFTs containing both the movie itself and associated bonus and behind-the-scenes content. While the exact details of the distribution model have not been announced, it’s been hinted that owners will be able to use their NFTs to have some sort of input into the way the universe established in the movie will evolve. Additionally, owners will in some way hold the rights to their own exclusive version of the main character from the movie – "Make your own movie, turn it into a cartoon, license him for lunchboxes!" Smith himself has said. Whatever this turns out to mean, it’s likely to be interesting.
This one is billed as “the world’s first NFT restaurant" and aims to offer exclusive and unique dining experiences to owners of its NFTs via a real-world New York restaurant. Two different membership levels are available - Flyfish and Flyfish Omakase, with owners of the higher-priced Omakase tokens granted entrance to an even-more-exclusive VIP area of the restaurant and its even-more-exclusive dishes. These tokens are currently on offer for 4.25 ETH – just over $13,000 at today’s prices as of writing.
The US music festival is offering lifetime passes in the form of NFTs. Ten owners will get free entry for as long as they hold the tokens, as well as admittance to any of the virtual events organized by the festival brand. They also come with VIP perks such as front-row access, dinners cooked by celebrity chefs, and opportunities to meet and greet artists and performers. It’s been reported that the NFTs are designed to provide royalties to artists and designers involved in developing festival experiences every time they are resold to new owners.
These NFTs confer upon their owners access to VeeCon – wine entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuck’s business conferences and workshops. It can be thought of as a networking opportunity for people who are interested in building their own business in the NFT or Web3 space, with holders of the rarest NFTs entitled to one-to-one meetings and mentorship with Vaynerchuck. Up to 555 owners of the lower-tier “gift goat” NFTs get exclusive gifts from Vaynerchuck mailed to them six times a year.
Midnight Society Founders Pass
Midnight Society is pitched as an upcoming video game created by controversial Youtube gaming personality Dr. Disrespect. Gaming and NFTs are often seen as a natural match, but rather than just representing unique collectibles or in-game items, owners of Midnight Society NFTs will apparently have a say in the development of the game itself by "taking part in the development decision-making process." Not everyone is so sure that NFTs are a good fit for the gaming industry; however – several developers have backtracked on including NFTs in their games following negative reactions from consumers.
World of Women
This NFT project aims to raise money for female-led organizations and initiatives around the world, which are working to address issues of gender imbalance and discrimination. It is one of a number of emerging socially-conscious projects that use the publicity – and funds – they are generating to tackle serious issues. The first collection of 10,000 images sold out soon after it was launched last year, and a second collection is due for release soon.
Clinique Meta Optimist
The cosmetics brand launched its own series of utility NFTs which give holders access to a supply of free products, including their very difficult to get hold of Almost Lipstick Black Honey which has become an internet meme itself thanks to its rarity and desirability. The NFTs work as a form of loyalty scheme by incentivizing consumers to share stories of “optimism” on the brand’s social media channels. Rather than selling the NFTs, they will be given away to those with the best stories. Carolyn Dawkins, SVP for consumer engagement and product marketing, says they are part of a mission to "modernize loyalty."
The Tarantino NFT Collection
Last year Quentin Tarantino decided to create NFTs based on the screenplay of his classic movie Pulp Fiction. He did it through a platform called Secret NFTs, which aims to enhance the levels of privacy and security around tokens. The USP of Tarantino’s project was that each of the NFTs, as well as containing the script to a key scene in the movie, would reveal previously unspoken secrets behind the plot and characters of the cult hit. However, whether or not the auction will actually go ahead seems to be undecided, as Miramax – the film’s original distributor – has filed a lawsuit claiming that it owns the rights to the script, not Tarantino.