This San Diego Car Wash Is Using NFTs to Drive Up Demand

After adding digital collectibles to its list of membership benefits, Soapy Joe’s saw a spike in customers visiting multiple locations to collect them.

AccessTimeIconSep 12, 2022 at 9:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2022 at 7:32 p.m. UTC

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

In the past year, companies as large as Nike and Pepsi have targeted non-fungible token (NFT)-curious customers during Web3’s transition from a niche crypto concept to a more mainstream movement, netting hundreds of millions of dollars along the way.

But amid the biggest names in branding all vying to launch successful NFT projects, efforts from smaller companies have also yielded impressive results. Among them is a car wash company called Soapy Joe’s, which began its own NFT campaign at the beginning of July.

The scavenger hunt-style promotion allows members of the San Diego car wash chain to collect a different Ethereum-based NFT from each of its 17 locations. The more NFTs a customer collects, the more rewards are unlocked, ranging from physical key chains and hats to amusement park tickets and a free annual membership to the car wash.

“We are seeing numbers that we have never seen in our 11 year history in terms of people going to multiple sites,” Anne Mauler, Soapy Joe’s vice president of marketing, told CoinDesk in an interview. “They are blowing it out of the water.”

In the two and a half months since the promotion began, Soapy Joe’s customers have minted more than 10,000 NFTs between around 2,000 wallets. Mauler says the company has also seen a 10% increase in membership since the start of the promotion, with the amount of customers visiting more than four locations increasing significantly.

The NFTs themselves are based on the design of the air fresheners Soapy Joe’s has always given out with every wash, which have become a cult collectible among the company’s loyal “Soapy Squad.” Mauler described the admiration for the physical air fresheners as “like NFTs in real life.”

To redeem the NFTs, Soapy Joe’s sends a link via email to its customers after each visit. The company says its NFT-related emails have so far seen a 71% open rate – far higher than its normal promos.

The inspiration for the campaign dates back to April 2021, when Mauler was first exposed to NFTs while watching an episode of "The Ellen Degeneres Show" that had a “stick cat” NFT segment.

“Seeing Ellen with her little cat image, saying ‘This is something that we can do.’ We are known for being a little bit wacky, definitely on the cutting edge, liking to be innovative and doing the unexpected, and we definitely do not see ourselves as playing toe-to-toe with other car washes,” Mauler said.

The company’s “Summer Passport” promotion officially ends Sept. 30, but it won’t be the brand’s last NFT venture. A representative from Soapy Joe’s said it has plans to build on its digital collectible strategy in the coming months, though concrete plans have yet to be announced.

Behind the scenes, Soapy Joe’s tapped Web3 firm Taco Labs for the project’s backend, which it says it will continue to partner with for future NFT endeavors.


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Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

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