Want to rep your degen status to your neighbors? Here's your chance.
Home improvement giant Lowe's this week released a physical garden flag featuring characters from mfers, a popular non-fungible token (NFT) project that exists in the public domain under a Creative Commons classification known as a CC0 license. Under this designation, anyone can use mfers NFT characters to create any type of commercial good, which is exactly what Stephen Thompson and his brother-in-law Matthew Varnell did.
"This is the PFP [profile picture] project if you ever wanted to do anything fun," Thompson, a lawyer by trade, told CoinDesk.
The two men recently started a company called Total Marketing Web3, or TM3 for short, as an umbrella company to oversee different projects that will combine NFT lore and real-world commercial products.
Their first product called the "Evergreen Siezenals" garden flag is 1 foot wide by 1.5 feet high and features the phrase "cc0 summer 2023" above an image of two NFT characters sipping tropical drinks on the beach. The flag, referred to as "seizen #1/edition #1" in the website description, retails for $39.98. According to Thompson and Varnell's website, there will only be 1,000 available, with each flag linked to a replica NFT redeemable online.
Using imagery from the mfers project to create this fun-but-frivolous product makes sense when you consider the collection's origin story that has been enshrined in meme culture. Mfers was created in 2021 by a pseudonymous artist named Sartoshi, who designed the low-fidelity, hand-drawn characters inspired by the “Are ya winning, son?" meme.
Despite offering no utility and no roadmap, the project has managed to cultivate a strong and passionate collector base. In June 2022, Sartoshi transferred the project’s smart contract and ownership to the community, creating even more fanfare and interest in the collection. Today, these NFTs often sell for over $1,000 each – far higher than their original mint price of 0.069 ETH, or about $320 – and the project has done over 66,510 ETH in sales, or nearly $125 million, according to OpenSea.
Inspired by mfers rise to fame, Thompson and Varnell were able to bring their grassroots project to life with a bit of luck and by calling on existing connections. Varnell works as a manufacturer's rep and as a liaison between companies with products they want to sell and buyers at big-box retailers. This relationship allowed them to get the flags made through a manufacturer called Evergreen, which had an existing relationship with Lowe's.
"The Web2 industry, as far as our experiences goes, is very curious and eager to tap into what is happening here in Web3," he explained.
He added that selling a product that nods to Web3 at a major retailer like Lowe's helps build brand loyalty among younger consumers who are eager to see their digital identities reflected in the real world.
"People that are into crypto and who are trading NFTs are often under 30 or 40," he said. "They may also have discretionary income and are looking to buy or furnish their first houses."
The reception to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the unanimous five-star reviews of the flag on the Lowe's website.
"I don’t know what to say, there are flags, then there’s this. A league of its own," wrote one user.
"Our garden was missing something, we felt empty inside until we found the cc0 Summer 2023 garden flag from mfers at Lowe’s," another wrote. "Our garden is now complete and has been restored to its majestic glory."
"The entire NFT community is very supportive," Thompson joked.
In the future, Thompson said TM3 is working to expand its offerings, including working with other CC0 NFT projects and creating a variety of seasonal goods. He hopes the project serves as a signifier to larger retail brands that NFTs can be used to transform traditional marketing strategies and create a more symbiotic relationship between manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
"We think we can redefine the supply chain. Traditionally, the manufacturer and the retailer exclusively shared the burden of marketing," he said. "With Web3, the consumer starts to act as a marketer. We have a vested interest in the brand."
"If it's successful, this is a project that everybody can point to," he concluded. "This is the type of marketing and exposure and goodwill that they're trying very hard to build, and we're giving it to them for free."
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