This week, Nike’s first NFT, or virtual sneaker collection, launched with metaverse collectible studio RTFKT. But the launch actually began months ago, when the project, dubbed CryptoKicks, began to appear online – via a glowing vault featuring the Nike Swoosh (or RTFKT MNLTH NFT) airdropped for free to holders of various previous RTFKT NFTs. To access the NFT and open the spinning box, Nike set a series of “quests” for the online community to solve. The brand has attempted to use a new way into the NFT market, but is it enough to bring innovation to the corporate metaverse space? Moreover, is it possible for a brand to champion creativity in an often exclusive space? We speak to creative company Stink Studios, who went through the acquisition process.
“There was great speculation about what this new partnership would entail,” Alex Sturtevant director of brand at Stink Studios explains. “The promise of branded metaverse experiences have largely fallen flat, from empty banks in Decentraland to fast food ‘restaurants’ in corporate VR spaces. Would Nike bring the same spirit of innovation to web3 that it brings to sportswear?”
To open the vault and gain access to the NFT, audiences had to be able to connect with others for help; “No single person would realistically be able to solve the series of puzzles required to unlock the MNLTH,” Alex explains. The quests were solved over Discord. Alex continues: “The only way to learn and understand the real possibilities and challenges of web3 is to get involved, participate in the events and drops, and join a community on Discord.” For some, this could serve as a reminder of the exclusive nature of NFT communities, for others a chance for anyone with a Discord to become involved. Alex describes the “cracking process” as collaborative: “Different users were able to crack different aspects, each one building on the last.”
“Just as Nike aims to get all of their consumers out onto the pitch and the court, it was getting the community to engage in digital play. This was not the same thing as buying an expensive NFT just for bragging rights on Twitter, this was actually participating in a decentralised experience.” Once the quest was complete, holders of the MNLTH were able to unlock it on a custom website, revealing that it contained a pair of Nike Dunk Genesis and a Skin Vial (used for customisation).
Some elements of the experience, such as the original airdrop of vaults to holders of previous RTFKT NFTs, could invite criticism. However, the campaign continues to prompt discussion on the RTFKT Discord that there will be a future quest series from Nike to unlock MNLTH 2 vaults.
Alex states: “While the Dunk Genesis didn’t immediately achieve the rarified price strata of other buzzy NFTs, the project has arguably proved something more important: that Nike understands the importance of committing authentically to the space before using it for an advertising campaign.”
RTFKT / Nike: Nike Dunk Genesis (Copyright © Stink Studios, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.