Wrangler enters Wild West of NFTs with Leon Bridges

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Wrangler is celebrating 75 years in business with a “Mr. Wrangler” campaign that centers on the metaverse and a partnership with musician Leon Bridges, who helped conceptualize and choreograph the effort, per a news release
  • The denim maker, marketed by Kontoor Brands, will auction 75 animated “Icon-Tier” non-fungible tokens (NFTs) this week through the LTD.INC platform. Each captures one of Bridges’ dance moves and opens access to online communities, Wrangler-branded virtual wearables on Decentraland and a VIP pass to an invite-only performance the Grammy-winner will put on at New York Fashion Week in September. 
  • That month, Wrangler will also release a single “Legendary-Tier” NFT and replica of a custom denim jean-and-jacket outfit tailored for Bridges. The only copy outside of his private wardrobe, the getup has “a vault of digital content sewn into its seams” that unlocks exclusive material from Bridges when scanned with LTD. INC’s app, expressing Wrangler’s efforts to better link its physical goods to NFT perks. 

Dive Insight:

Wrangler is celebrating its 75th year by marketing itself in the new frontier of the metaverse. In a press statement, Tom Waldron, global brand president at the denim maker, drew parallels between the emergent virtual channel and the Wild West motifs Wrangler captures in its advertising and apparel, including the “Mr. Wrangler” digs sported by Bridges. For consumers who miss out on acquiring one of the limited-edition NFTs, the company will host a more inclusive “Wranglerverse” event in September.

The NFT drop comes amid a period of heightened scrutiny for the format and wider cryptocurrency space. Wrangler is potentially trying to account for the skepticism by linking its digital assets to real-world perks like a private concert from Bridges and the chance to secure the only replica of his signature outfit, a blue jeans-and-jacket combo embroidered with yellow stitching reading “Wrangler Jeans.”  

“[The] ‘Mr. Wrangler’ NFT Collection is the first NFT drop that truly merges the physical and digital worlds,” reads the promotion’s website page

Brands have expressed heavy interest in NFTs as they look to get in on the ground floor of the metaverse — part of the web3 infrastructure that aims to bring around the next era of the internet — and prove virtual products can carry equity that appreciates over time in the same manner as physical paraphernalia. Wrangler’s Icon-Tier NFTs will be tradable on secondary NFT marketplaces, including OpenSea, while the 1-of-1 Legendary-Tier offering will live on LTD.INC

However, NFTs have been subject to a growing amount of fraudulent activity. OpenSea, the largest NFT trading platform, was recently targeted by a phishing scheme that’s estimated to have cost users millions. The attack was followed by a plunge in activity on the platform, Bloomberg reported.

NFTs operate on blockchain technology that is immutable and promises stronger safeguards than other methods of transacting, but such incidents suggest the method is still prone to plenty of risks. That same immutability also comes with new brand safety considerations for marketers. A transaction tied to a McDonald’s NFT last year had a racial slur buried in the code that could not be scrubbed, for example. Sometimes the Wild West has its downsides.     

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