For a brief while earlier this year, many celebrities were extremely keen on promoting non-fungible tokens to their audience.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are videos, photos, or other digital visuals people can sell and buy using cryptocurrency. Anyone who buys an NFT receives a digital receipt that proves they’re the sole owner of what they purchased. The exclusivity promised through buying an NFT is why it’s recently become all the rage — especially among celebrities.
NFTs and other types of crypto have permeated every corner of social media (and the metaverse, of course). Paris Hilton promoted her autobiographical NFTs “Paris: Past Lives, New Beginnings” on the Origin Story marketplace, while Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine partnered with the NFT collective World of Women. Snoop Dogg plans to turn Death Row Records into an “NFT label.”
All seemed to be going well for people invested in buying or selling NFTs. But then, in the blink of an eye, the NFT and crypto market crashed. NFTs like co-founder and former CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold at a paltry sum of $280 at an auction in April after originally selling for $2.9 million the previous year. Even the popular Bored Ape NFTs that Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon so awkwardly talked about on the Tonight Show saw their value slashed by half.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s art and culture reporter Ellen Gamerman, Paris Hilton mentioned how her engagement with the NFT world came from more of an “art perspective” than an “investment perspective.” Elsewhere, she’s stated that the future will be digital. But in recent months, Hilton’s NFT craze has been practically non-existent. Her last post on Instagram promoting NFTs dates back to March 28.
Hilton and all those other celebrities who promoted NFTs any chance they could suddenly become silent after the market crashed, which begs the question: Were they serious about the future of NFTs? Or was it merely about the paid advertisements?
Some explanations are floating around for why this may be the case.
Gamerman has suggested — after talking to Hollywood agents responsible for finding NFT deals for their clients — that perhaps just because many celebrities have been silent about NFTs doesn’t mean they’re not engaging in it. Instead, those being a bit more cautious about NFTs are agents who are hesitant in making deals they’re looking into for their clients.
On the other hand, Benjamin Behrooz, founder of Branding Los Angeles, a branding agency that focuses on NFT partnerships, said in an interview with CNN Entertainment that “these growing pains are all part of the long game.” He’s noticed that even though the NFT and crypto market is on a downward trend, the number of companies and powerful clients that have reached out to his agency to develop NFT projects increases every day.
Even Kate Lonczak, a talent agent who spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the rise of celebrities promoting NFTs, still feels optimistic about where the NFT market is headed. Similarly to Behrooz, she believes that “crypto is a long game” but that it’s worth it because they “offer artists new storytelling and fan engagement opportunities.”
Though the initial wave of NFTs endorsed by celebrities may have calmed down in recent months, there are still opportunities agents and agencies are looking into to create good partnerships with celebrities and expand the NFT market with more art, photos, videos and exclusivity. Only time will tell if celebrities will jump back on promoting NFTs and lead their audience into the future or drop it for the next big thing.