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What the NFT revolution means for brands

Gary Vaynerchuk and Paris Hilton talk about the big opportunities and challenges facing the NFT space.


NFTs exploded into popular culture in 2020. And, just like the internet in the early 2000s, brands and consumers alike are figuring out how to incorporate them into their world. In a behind-the-scenes chat at Cannes Lion, two established brands and NFT creators – Gary Vaynerchuk and Paris Hilton – discuss unlocking the opportunities in the NFT space, the connections they create with their respective communities, and what this means for brands and the future of creativity going forward.

What message do you want the audience to hear and act on from your talk?

Paris: How this is going to revolutionize the entertainment industry and disrupt so many verticals and businesses and what an exciting space it is to be in. And jump in.

What is the one thing the industry should worry about right now?

Gary: The industry needs to worry about relevance. The ad industry is very good at trying to get reach by spending tons of media on a piece of content that nobody cares about. To me the biggest concern by far is winning on relevance. I do think NFTs are an opportunity for relevance.

Why are NFTs not just a fad?

Paris: NFTs are here to stay. I’ve always loved art and digital art is even cooler. I have all these screens in my house and the art is 3-D, they move, they have music. They’ve beautiful. And not just the art, but the utilities people are attaching to them for real-life experiences and being able to turn them in for physical items. Like the drop I just did for RTFKT and Nike where we designed these Air Force Ones and people can get the physical shoes and that’s something I was really excited about.

I’ve always been such a collector. I used to love collecting Pogs, Garbage Pail Kids cards and Barbies. In the metaverse It’s so fun to go shopping. It’s this whole other word with all these fantastical creations by all these amazing creators.

What impact is celebrity culture having on NFTs?

Gary: Awareness. Anyone with large audiences has the potential to story tell and bring awareness to new things. Anytime anything has happened in the universe there’s always been individuals who brought awareness to them. Obviously, celebrity has evolved from being a pilot or astronaut to being a TikToker but it’s always been the same game. Which human carries a lot of attention. The Beatles wear their hair long, so everyone wears their hair long.

What’s your definition of creativity?

Paris: I feel I’m inspired by everything and you can be creative in any medium you want to be, whether it’s in your business or art or designing clothes or the way you present yourself to the world. With web3 and the meta verses you can be creative in ways that aren’t even possible in the physical world.

What’s the biggest challenge for the NFT marketplace in the next couple of years?

Gary: Time. It’s just early and people lack patience. Social media didn’t have the same pressure 20 years ago. Too much greed. There was a lot of bad behaviour, there was a lot of scamming people just trying to make a quick buck and not really being in it for anything but money and whenever you’re into anything just for money it’s going to be a little more soulless. I think the challenge of time and getting the stink off the bad behaviour of the gold rush stand out.

Earlier in the year Paris said, “When I first came into the industry, I was unfairly treated by the media and underestimated. And now, ever since I’ve used my voice to turn my paint into purpose, I feel so free.” How has embracing NFTs enabled you to reposition yourself in the industry?

Paris: It was really taking the power back in my story. Growing up in this industry for two decades, the media treated us so cruelly and it was difficult to go through. Times have changed and I’ve been using my platform to raise awareness. We’ve changed laws in seven states so that children won’t abused. I’m proud that I can use my voice and the power of NFTs to raise money for causes in that area.

As the official Canadian representative of Cannes Lions, the world’s most prestigious and coveted advertising and marketing awards, The Globe and Mail will provide insights, ideas, and takeaways from panels and keynotes over the next five days.

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