Day two of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022 opened with Paris Hilton, CEO, 11:11 Media, and Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman and CEO, VaynerX and Vayner Media, discussing the NFT revolution and what it meant for brands. The chat was moderated by Swan Sit, independent board director, advisor and speaker.
Definition of NFT
Before asking Hilton and Vaynerchuk about their views about NFTs, Sit defined them for the audience.
“If you ask 10 people what an NFT is, there will be 10 different answers and they could all be right. For me, it’s just a digital record on the blockchain,” she said.
Before providing his definition, Vaynerchuk stated that the reason people struggle with understanding what a NFT, is because they apply their ‘internet brain’ to the blockchain.
“Blockchain is different from the internet. NFT is a digital asset that you own and the whole world knows you own it. Back in 1996, people struggled with the internet. They were making errors like just writing the site name without putting a ‘www.’ or a ‘.com’,” he said.
Hilton described how her journey into the virtual space started a few years before the words ‘Metaverse’ and NFTs were mentioned.
“I started my journey into the gaming world in 2004, when I launched a mobile game with Gameloft. By 2016, I had created this place called Paris World. Back then the technology wasn’t available (like it is now), but fans could party with me virtually. Now, that the technology is here, we have partnered with brands for amazing activations in the Metaverse. The possibilities are endless. This is just the beginning and the future,” said Hilton.
She added that one motive for her to be working on the Metaverse is to empower and elevate women, since she believed that the business was very male-dominated.
Vaynerchuk added that he saw the potential of the Metaverse existing, when Farmville ‘went ballistic’ on Facebook.
“People were spending real money to buy digital sheep! I remember thinking how a sheep on Farmville was no different than a Gucci belt,” he said, before adding that he has been fascinated by communication through ownership.
“To me, the one that is most misunderstood is communication through what one buys. People want to flash the zip code when it comes to houses, the badges on their cars, and it goes to a totally different level in the fashion world,” added Vaynerchuk.
He also stated that the NFT revolution wasn’t started by technology companies or technologists, but from creators, artists and most likely communities, which were in two-way dialogue space.
Hilton remarked that the biggest difference she sees between the Web3 world and the Web2 world, would be communities.
"Web2 was about building an audience. Web3 is about building communities. People are willing to support each other and lift each other. People want to push this forward so that they can understand it. I’ve been in this for a while but I’m still learning every day," she said.
Hilton also claimed that blockchain and Web3 will help by giving the power back into the hands of the creators, rather than platforms or record labels.
"I recorded my iconic song, Stars are Blind, and I’m excited about releasing it on Web3. It’ll give me the power again rather than the record label. I used to travel 250 days a year, now from anywhere I can DJ for lakhs of people. And people felt they were with me at the same time,” she said.
Vaynerchuk stated that the biggest myth that Web3 will eliminate for marketers will be tracking ‘reach’.
"It will expose internet and pre-internet realities. The industry for the last 30 years has been obsessed with reach. The problem with that, is that the industry has lied about reach for the last 20 years. There’s nothing more bullshit than GRPs and internet impressions," he said.
According to Vaynerchuk, Web3 will provide cleaner data which will help unleash creativity further.
“Over the next 25 years with NFTs, it will help brands go to depth instead of width. This industry has forced creative people to create vanilla bullshit! I’m passionate about this industry and care a lot about the work. In the past, we have defined the work as a TV commercial. There’s not one person that’s consuming this TVC. Web3 will change that. It will have cleaner data which will help unleash the creativity of many."
He also claimed that this revolution will see a lot of creative people within agencies quit their jobs and instead make their art and sell NFTs to express themselves.
What should brands do with NFTs?
Hilton claimed that brands must be careful and not make their entry into the space look like advertising.
"You have to make it look organic. We follow that with all our brand associations too."
Vaynerchuk also believed that it was the best time for brands to enter the space.
“The hysteria around this space has now died. People understand the underlying technology! NFTs have an incredible chance to be beneficial for the buyers and the sellers. This will become a profound platform for creativity. I understand why there’s confusion and that always happens when there’s a technology change,” he said.
He compared the noise around NFTs to social media.
“In 2005 or 2006, people said they didn’t care about social media. And now, the conversation has changed from ‘we don’t care about it’ to ‘we need to regulate these things because it can upset the world’s population',” he added.
He also urged the community to read and learn about the space before dismissing it.
“Before you decide your view on it, make sure you have done 15 hours of actual homework around it. I have also seen people go into NFT without education and lose money, so it only makes sense to read up on it,” Vaynerchuk further added.
Hilton claimed that Web3 will change history and that she’s already seeing the emergence of digital influencers.
"These are little virtual characters who are now celebrities and doing campaigns with the likes of Gucci, taking away deals from real influencers. This will change history and I’m really excited,” she surmised.