Celebrities’ love affair with NFTs may just be beginning – even amid ups and downs


It seems that every few days, a new star announces his entry into the world of non-fungible tokens, cryptocurrencies, or any other obscure corner of the metaverse – the generic term for an emerging virtual space where people can play, meet and, of course, buy things.

This has been a habit for a while now, and usually every star-studded ad is some form of communication or an exclusive opportunity. But for the majority of the population that doesn’t own cryptocurrency or NFT (and might not even care), the big names and expensive tech concepts they are promoting make them really strange friends.

Take some recent examples: Last week, Madonna minted a very NSFW NFT set that included clear photos of her giving birth to a tree, as well as a 3D model of her undercarriage. Fortunately, the reactions were mixed.

encryption terms

Cryptocurrency: A currency that actually exists and requires complex technology to verify and use

NFT: (non-replaceable token) Evidence of digital ownership of something, usually a piece of art or other media

metaverse: A virtual space on the Internet, where cryptocurrency and NFT can exist (although outside the metaverse as well)

Earlier this year, there was a Brie Larson incident, in which a Marvel actress shared a peek inside what she called a “corner” of the metaverse. The 30-second Twitter video showed a blonde avatar with a fleeting resemblance to Larson awkwardly walking around a virtual museum filled with NFT art.

Countless stars, athletes, artists, and even sports teams have taken similar vacillating steps to promote crypto partnerships or NFTs, sometimes to the derision of critics who see NFT as a money-making venture that doesn’t benefit fans – or at least not from them. Without a lot of cash to spare.

Brie Larson is one of many celebrities promoting NFTs and other digital assets.

Read more: What is NFT?

In addition, even the most enticing promise of owning digital art or real estate cannot overshadow the choppy frenzy and choppy beginnings of the current cryptocurrency market. NFT sales have fallen by 92% since September 2021. The panic in the cryptocurrency market has reached the ears of US regulators. NFT pieces that were bought into millions of dollars and promised to be premium investments have fizzled out. In fact, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet from NFT, which sold for $2.9 million in 2021, attracted a soaring bid of just $280 at auction in April.

Have we reached critical mass in the NFT market? Are we in the last days This is amazing effective or who – which Movie star pushing high dollar digital goods?

For Benjamin Behrouz, those growing pains are all part of the long game. Behrouz is the founder of Branding Los Angeles, a branding agency focused on, among other things, NFT partnerships. He says that the number of clients and powerful companies willing to develop NFT projects is increasing every day, and it won’t be long before major retailers will accept cryptocurrency payments.

Say what we see now. The cult-like embarrassment and aggression of the promoters of cryptospecies, the wheat that breaks from the chaff.

“Right now, these things might have a very small audience. But it’s like the beginning of a roller coaster. You run, you climb, you climb, you climb, and then the reward comes,” he told CNN.

It is true that cryptocurrencies are still exclusive. It is estimated that around 46 million people in the United States have invested in Bitcoin, the most prominent cryptocurrency. Worldwide, there are an estimated 300 million cryptocurrency users, or about 3.9%.

Once this cryptocurrency is invested in things like NFTs and the metaverse, the circle gets smaller. According to one of the statistics, only 360 thousand people own all available NFTs, and 80% of the value of this market is owned by only 9% of the owners.

While celebrity endorsements may be all about a future where people buy and sell exclusive virtual goods as easily as they do at a kiosk selling goods, the current world of digital assets is a small pond full of very big fish.

LED screens displaying NFT artwork displayed at Metavision.

What these large fish hope to sell to their smaller followers is a point of contact – a ticket to enter the pond, if desired. A chance to swim next to them.

“They are trying to prove that, in the same way that you can become a member of someone’s fan club in the analog world, you are now doing it digitally by being part of selling someone’s NFT or the metaverse. You can gain a certain amount of access from within, ” Paul R La Monica from CNN Business explains.

Perhaps that’s why someone paid $450,000 earlier this year to be Snoop Dogg’s “neighbor” in the metaverse, or why Paris Hilton is constantly promoting NFT and cryptocurrency projects. (Even if some of the attempts aren’t convincing, like a sharply criticized conversation between Hilton and “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, in which the pair woodenly discussed the bored Monkey Yacht Club NFTs.)

Dolly Parton invoked the same element of connectivity when she presented the NFTs at this year’s SXSW conference, though people questioned the match between the 76-year-old’s laid-back rustic vibe and the financially risky, high-tech concept often embraced by young adults with tech literacy. Pain.

Dolly Parton (pictured here in 2021) presented souvenirs at this year's SXSW conference.

The key to a good partnership — one that doesn’t feel coerced or unorganized, says Behrouz, is to really investigate which celebrities or influencers will be associated with a project. Who is their audience, for example, or what kind of values ​​do they have? He notes that he should be an authentic person with a close relationship with the fans.

This is especially important in the world of NFTs, he says, where people can easily fall victim to fraud or mismanagement.

“People are starting to perceive situations in this space where they are being exploited,” he says. “So you have to look at the communities that a person has created.”

It’s no surprise that the most active people in these digital spaces may have never listened to a Snoop Dogg or Madonna tape. They probably don’t remember why Paris Hilton is so popular.

“Obviously this is more common among young people, digitally indigenous people because, for this generation, money has always been more understandable,” says La Monica.

People who are admired by younger generations often become famous through other forms of media, and this tests our idea of ​​exactly who a celebrity is and where their influence lies. An NFT campaign might seem more appropriate, for example, with a YouTube star or a TikTok influencer rising from the basement rather than a tabloid-approved old guard icon.

Behrouz explains his agency’s work: “We are not changing our approach.” “This is where the market is to convert people into believers.”

In the future that late believers dream of, stars can regularly hold concerts or meet and greet in virtual places. People could buy special items for their avatars – virtual copies of themselves that would inhabit this new world. Behrouz says he is surprised by some of the ideas he’s seen about ways to interact with the metaverse, such as custom homes and NFTs that translate into exclusive real-world access to clubs or other events.

As now, digital assets promoted by celebrities are often priced or hosted on platforms that require exclusive rights to access. Contact with fans is often poor at best, and predatory at worst. But as long as the cryptocurrency race continues, stars of all stripes will be working along in hopes of leading their followers — and their money — into the future.