Coke takes a sip of the NFT trend with charity auction for digital collectibles

Coca-Cola has teamed with 3D creators at Tafi to host an auction for special-edition virtual “loot boxes” of NFTs. The Special Olympics, which Coke has been a long-standing sponsor, will benefit from the event’s profits.

Coca-Cola announced today its first foray in the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This partnership is with Tafi which creates custom avatars with 3D branded content.

In celebration of International Friendship Day on July 30, Coca-Cola will hold an auction for “loot boxes” of NFTs created by Tafi. The set includes digital apparel that you can wear in Decentraland, an open-access 3D virtual reality platform hosted by the Ethereum blockchain.

“This is such an exciting space, because it’s so new and we felt there is something cool about not knowing exactly what would be in the loot box,” Josh Schwarber, global digital design senior director for Coca-Cola tells The Drum. “It provided a pathway to bring the idea of friendship to life, with each of the different components as a unique expression.”

During the event, participants can bid on the Coca-Cola Friendship Box, a virtual take on Coke’s classic vending machine. When opened, the box reveals additional NFT goodies including a futuristic Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable in the brand’s iconic metallic red and brown, The Friendship Card, a refreshed version of the brand’s friendship-focused trading cards from the 1940s and The Sound Visualizer — which engages users with familiar sounds of a bottle cap popped and the fizz of a freshly-poured Coke over ice. The box will contain additional digital collectibles that the winner can access once it is opened.

And according to Schwarber, the activation encompasses the brand’s core identity and values. “We have a history of bringing people together through our brand and landed on the idea of a ‘surprise and delight’ Friendship Box to mark International Friendship Day, housing distinct NFTs,” he says. “We included some of the properties most associated with our brand but reimagined them for the metaverse with motion and multisensorial expression. It quickly took on a life of its own and turned out to be something that feels right for Coca-Cola.”

Plus, because the brand’s new NFTs are sensory and interactive, they can be enjoyed time and time again — just like Coke products, Schwarber noted in a statement released today.

And the Tafi team agree that the collaboration fits the brand’s ethos. The company’s chief operating officer Ty Duperron tells The Drum: “Coca-Cola is one of the most iconic brands in history, so with its beloved collectible memorabilia in mind (old signs, vending machines, etc), NFTs seem like a natural step forward today.”

Coca-Cola is the latest in a growing lineup of brands dipping their toes into the so-called “metaverse” — a shared virtual space at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. The convergence of virtual and augmented reality, gaming and blockchain technology are driving the shift — and the move presents countless new opportunities for experiential brand marketing.

Coke wants a piece of this pie. “The metaverse — which is borderless and ‘geo-less’ — creates opportunities to connect with others like never before,” said Schwarber in the statement.

Profits from the auction will be donated to the Special Olympics — a cause that the Coca-Cola Company has supported since its founding in 1968. Today, James Quincey, the chairman and chief executive officer of Coke, sits on the Special Olympics’ Board of Directors alongside his predecessor Muhtar Kent.

The auction will take place on OpenSea from July 30th at 12:01am UTC through August 2nd at 8:00pm UTC. OpenSea is a peer to peer marketplace for NFTs, digital collectibles, and other NFTs.

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