#192: 3 Weeks of Azuki Announcements

PLUS: 👟 Nike releases details for the Our Force 1 drop

3 Weeks of Azuki Announcements

If you’re involved in web3, you’ve heard of Azuki by this point. The Asian-leaning collection has established themselves as a leading web3 consumer brand and company that creates memorable experiences (NFT LA 2022, Proof of Skate) and innovates on a technical (PBTs) and community level too (Researcher in Residence).

I’ve been fortunate to follow Azuki shortly after its inception, so I’ve come to appreciate the journey the team and community have gone on over the past year and a half as a fan watching from the sidelines. Every week I wonder why I still don’t have an Azuki or Beanz (their secondary collection).

Distance makes the heart grow fonder I guess 🤷‍♂️

Not financial advice of course!

Azuki does not have the same spotlight or financial resources that Yuga Labs and BAYC does. However, it feels like they’re carving out a sustainable long-term moat.

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve observed a string of announcements that mirror what I’ve seen with Yuga around announcement velocity. Each announcement was not necessarily as hyped or covered to the same degree, but it shows how others can create their own versions of Yuga’s success.

What is also notable to me is that some of these announcements were small moments in the grand scheme of things. Despite that, I believe these small moments show what the brand and team are really made of.

So what has Azuki announced over the past 3 weeks?

3/28: Beanz Selfies

In late March, the Beanz Twitter account announced the Beanz ‘selfie mode’ feature. Though this announcement was targeted towards Beanz holders, anyone could go to Azuki’s website, enter a serial number, and get the selfie of the Bean.

As a results, the Beanz community responded by replying and sharing their Beanz selfies. Sample below.

Small ‘surprise and delight’ moment, and one that recognizes the importance of these types of moments. There are likely a million and one things that would have been more important for the team to work on, but recognizing the need for delightful features make an incremental difference for being a member of this community.

4/1: Bobu Chat

With all buzz around AI and ChatGPT, the Azuki team decided to join in on the fun with an Azuki theme.

Bobu is Azuki #40 and has been fractionalized into 50,000 tokens. If you can’t afford an Azuki or Beanz, this is the most affordable way to join the community. The mascot for Azuki has been created with a persona of being a clumsy individual who enjoys drinking sake. For April Fool’s, he joined the community team via Bobu.chat.

Though he’s off the clock now, the community got some laughs interacting with the AI-powered Bobu chat.

Source

Source

Another surprise and delight moment for the Azuki community. Several days later, Dem (Head of Community) called out Bobu for taking time off, bringing attention back to the new community team member.

Source

4/3: Elena’s care package

Elena, one of Azuki’s Researchers in Residence, took time off due to health-related reasons. As she was recovering, she received a care package in the mail.

This is neither an announcement nor surprise and delight moment (for the community at least). This is something Azuki simply recognized as the right thing to do.

4/3: Skylark breaks down the multi-wallet feature for collector profiles

Skylark, one of the developers on the team, shared details around the new feature supporting multiple wallets. Updates like this seem trivial, while in reality are much more complex on the backend.

The thread provided insights around how the team works behind the scenes.

4/12: LINE FRIENDS (IPX) x Beanz Partnership

Last week, Azuki announced a partnership between Beanz and IPX (formerly known as LINE FRIENDS). IPX was spun off from LINE Corporation (messaging app with 200+ million monthly active users) in 2015 to focus on character development and IP creation.

Over the past year, IPX has shifted focus towards the digital IP space around NFTs and metaverse.

This initiative will lead to new distribution channels, a significantly broader audience, and activations with an experienced and resource-rich partner.

4/13: Bobu Committee updates

As I shared earlier, Bobu is an Azuki that was fractionalized into 50k tokens owned by the community. Dem shared updates on the Bobu committee. Together they laid out more details regarding the committee’s purpose, proposal process, and treasury management (they have a treasury worth ~$800k currently).

Bobu has been an experiment since inception, and hopefully will become a successful one to show what healthy community governance can look like.

4/7+4/17: Azuki’s Follow the Rabbit event

Azuki has been quiet on the live event side of things this year. They broke the silence this month with a teaser and an official announcement.

The community went bonkers with the announcement and I imagine many holders started to clear their calendars and make arrangements for the event in June.

This announcement reminded me of Yuga making the decision hold Ape Fest on their own terms:

Smart move by Yuga for multiple reasons:

Captive audience: No need for ApeFest attendees to worry about the 20 other events they might miss out on. There’s only one event and its with your best jpeg friends in the world.

Gary Vee has done this with VeeCon and Gutter Cats have done this with GutterCon. I’ve also written about how the cute meta can create their own festival.

Yuga calls the shots: Yuga and BAYC was on NFT NYC’s schedule. Instead, Yuga sets their own agenda and has the flexibility of date, location, and side events to their main event.

Leveraging NFT NYC: Based on the Discord screenshot above, the announcement seems to suggest that ApeFest will be after NFT NYC in April. It’s unclear if Yuga will do anything at NFT NYC, but if they do they could channel the energy and excitement of that conference into ApeFest 2023.

Expansion for Yuga + BAYC: I doubt ApeFest will just be a multi-day music festival. The brand and network effects are too strong.

My prediction is that ApeFest will become an event under ApeCon. ApeCon will be a multi-track activation that will involve business, media, and entertainment (ApeFest).

Expansion for a community-led NFT Conference: Whether its this year or in the future, it’s possible that ApeFest/ApeCon could be much larger than Yuga itself. NFT specific conferences have been largely haphazard (see my review of NFT NYC 2022). One of the ways to improve them would be to have NFT communities themselves organize and lead them. They know their communities the best.

I imagine the same reasoning goes for Azuki.

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Putting it all together

When we analyze the announcements listed above, we can roughly categorize them as follows. Note that this is not a comprehensive list and based on what I’ve gathered from Twitter.

We can see a few themes that everyone can learn from, regardless of web2 vs. web3.

  • Announcement velocity does not have to be pedal to the metal. That strategy works well if executed well. For most other brands, consistent, transparent, and delightful announcements work better.

  • Azuki has had several announcements that could easily be regarded as silly and a waste of time. However, NFT communities are built around experiences. These are experiences that bring people together in fun, delightful, and memorable ways.

  • Some of these activations can be repurposed in evergreen ways. Bobu Chat can come back online, and Beanz Selfies can be used for other efforts in the future.

  • These surprise and delight moments would typically be the product of the occassional corporate Hackathon. Azuki made sure they saw the light of day and shipped them. These smaller efforts don’t move floor prices, they move hearts and minds.

  • At the end of the day, people are behind these PFPs and NFTs. Azuki recognizes that and shows the reality of this with the humanity of a care package. I suspect Elena is already a lifelong fan of Azuki, and definitely is now.

I hope these examples provide some inspiration for all the marketers and growth professionals out there. It’s hard to take a bet on seemingly silly efforts or create your own playbook. By doing so, you’re able to gain loyalty and community that acknowledges and recognizes those bets.

Nike’s Our Force 1 Drop

Last week was all about Adidas. This week is about Nike I guess. I just can’t get away from sneakers, ugh! 😉

Nike’s .SWOOSH account shared a lot more details about their first Virtual Creations drop.

The TLDR:

  • Timeline for the Our Force 1 (OF1) collection

    • April 18th - OF1 Poster airdrop

    • May 8th - [First Access] OF1 Box sale for OF1 Poster holders

    • May 10th - [General Access] OF1 Box sale

    • May 15th - OF1 Box Reveal

  • Nike will be airdropping 106,453 OF1 posters into .SWOOSH wallets

    • This is ~1/3 of total .SWOOSH wallets

    • 6-4-5-3 = N-I-K-E on T9.

  • Payment in credit or debit (no crypto)

  • $19.82 price point, which is an homage to the year Nike released the Air Force 1

  • Sources: Here, here, here

This is the dumb shit my brain thinks of. If you get it, you get it lol.

The airdrop is still ongoing as of a couple hours ago, so if you’re a .SWOOSH member be patient.

Some additional observations that I believe will usher in the next era of marketing, retention, and engagement for large brands:

Education is part of the consumer journey

As seen with Louis Vuitton and Starbucks Odyssey, brand loyalty and retention is not just about getting points and rewards anymore. It can and will become a deeper experience that will involve education in creative ways.

We see that with how Nike has priced the OF1s at $19.82, the year the Air Force 1 was released.

Pricing psychology is an art and science that has been tested a gazillion times. In this case, it’s not about maximizing the conversion rate to purchase. It’s about utilizing the price as an education touchpoint, which ultimately leads to long-term loyalty.

Digital access is an asset

Traditionally, ticketing has been primary asset related to access. That paradigm is now shifting into the digital realm, and tickets can take a variety of shapes and sizes.

NFTs have shown the world how access can be an asset. A Bored Ape is a 6-figure jpeg that provides access to a network, access to special events, and access to opportunities from other communities.

With Nike, access can now look like a poster or a pair of virtual sneakers. It’s not just an app notification or e-mail.

Co-creation can have multiple layers

The header image of the Sneaker News Our Force 1 article caught my eye. Why?

This line specifically.

Nike is now encouraging and promoting their community to co-create with them, likely inspired by RTFKT’s efforts. If some of these these Virtual creations are already from the community, we’ll start seeing creators co-creating with creators on the .SWOOSH platform.

1+1=3 ➡️ 1+1+1=10.

Nike is avoiding some web3 terms, but embracing most others

We know that the term ‘NFT’ carries a lot of baggage and big brands are avoiding it like the plague. However, with Nike’s OF1 launch, can see that they’re embracing many other terms that web3 is familiar with.

The best example of this is highlighted by their Medium post .SWOOSH DICTIONARY — OF1 Journey.

If Nike is embracing many of the terms we’ve grown familiar with, there’s a good chance that other brands will too. With more repetition, these terms will trickle into the mainstream consumer lexicon.

Bravo Nike, I look forward to receiving my OF1 poster airdrop, hopefully! 🤞

See you Thursday!

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