Nissan is selling a $280,000 NFT. Oh, and it comes with a supercar

Who: Nissan Canada and Juniper Park\TBWA for strategy, Edelman for PR, and digital artist Alex McLeod.

What: “Nissan GT-R NFT,” a marketing stunt/PR play that taps into the NFT hype through an auction for a Nissan NFT, along with a special limited-edition GT-R NISMO. The starting price for the auction is $280,000—roughly the cost of the new supercar.

When & Where: The NFT is on the auction site now, with the bidding window open between Oct. 5 to 7 at the RubiX Network NFT marketplace. This is mostly about PR and earned media, so there’s no paid media or advertising. There’s a video (below) housed on Nissan channels and social media.

Why: The idea came from Juniper Park\TBWA, in part because the agency had been looking at the NFT craze and considering ways to tap into it, but also because Nissan is interested in connecting itself to innovation in all forms, said the agency’s chief creative officer, Graham Lang. “There is constant dialogue and conversations and ideas around innovative ways to bring the brand to market through non-traditional channels,” he said. “There certainly is a big push from Nissan to its agencies to make sure the brand is showing up in innovative, non-traditional ways.”

How: Nissan is presenting this as an auction for the NFT, with the car thrown in. That’s the PR hook. “Nissan Canada presents GT-R NFT. A one-of-a-kind work of digital art by Canadian futurist Alex McLeod,” says the explanation at the RubiX Network. “The reserve price for the work is set at $280,000 because included in the auction are the keys to a 2021 Nissan GT-R NISMO Special Edition in an exclusive Stealth Grey exterior.”

It’s a way to sell a very expensive car while at the same time hopefully generating more leads to those in the market for very expensive cars, said Lang. But it’s also about positive free media around the world, with stories connected to innovation a very popular topic among the extremely online demographic. “There’s been a lot done on NFTs, but this NFT comes with keys,” said Lang.

“On one level, it’s about really wanting to sell more than one vehicle,” he said. “But it’s also a brand play, because we’re putting the Nissan badge onto a really innovative platform and it’s being picked up all over the world through automotive blogs and lifestyle blogs,” he said.

That coverage for the GT-R NISMO and the NFT provides a halo effect for the Nissan brand itself. “It’s a supercar, and it makes the badge on the vehicle feel like it’s attached to something that is core to Nissan’s racing heritage and all that good stuff,” said Lang.

The NFT: The animated digital artwork shows the GT-R in three different “supernatural” settings. McLeod describes his inspiration for the work in the release. The NISMO looks like it “comes from another world,” he said. “I wanted to explore that idea and show people what it could look like, by bridging realities between our physical and imagined worlds.”

We know what NFTs are…and we know you know what NFTs are…but just to remind everyone: Non-fungible tokens exploded in popularity and price this year. The digital assets exist on the blockchain, which means they can’t ever be replicated. Otherwise identical facsimiles could be made—meaning digital files visually identical to McLeod’s digital art could be easily created—but there will only ever be one digital file created by McLeod and bought through this auction, and that file can never be duplicated.

And they’re worth a lot of money? Well, people are spending on them at a frenzied rate, leading to some suggestions we could be seeing a bubble inflating in front our eyes—although people smarter than us about these things have been saying that for months, and prices continue to rise. Reuters recently reported that sales volumes on the trading platform OpenSea hit $1.9 billion in August, up from $148 million in March and just $8 million in January. But are they worth the money? We have no idea.

And we quote: “Recognizing NFT followers and car enthusiasts share the same passion for inspired design and a bold approach, Nissan wanted to create an NFT that would celebrate the GT-R’s legacy.” — Ken Hearn, director of marketing for Nissan Canada Inc.

David Brown