Art Basel draws Web3 projects from brands despite crypto winter

Marketers including Clarks and Hennessy are descending upon the Miami Beach art fair.

Art Basel draws Web3 projects from brands despite crypto winter

Among those flocking to this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach are traditional brands with Web3 projects—and parties—to plug. 

The annual art fair, while not a crypto conference, has seen representation from Web3-based creations and artists looking to break into the established art world. Last year’s event featured new levels of exposure thanks to the explosive popularity of NFTs, although the market for the tokens has since dried up. The crypto world in general has been decimated by a nearly year-long downturn that reached a fever pitch last month with the collapse of crypto exchange FTX.

Web3 marketing trailblazers

Entries are open for our first official Web3 honorific

Brands nonetheless are descending upon Miami Beach this week (Dec. 1-3) to promote their efforts in the Web3 space. Some, like Hennessy, are activating in affiliation with the fair itself. Others, like Adidas, have opted for a less official appearance, instead hosting events nearby in an attempt to draw off the surrounding culture. “The Gateway: A Web3 Metropolis” is an entire five-day festival taking this latter approach, hosted by NFT-focused news outlet NFT Now and real estate platform Mana Common.

Read more: Vice tries to make Art Basel a brand hub

Between activations at “Gateway” and Basel-affiliated events, here are five brands bringing Web3 to the streets of Miami.

More Web3 coverage from Ad Age

Hennessy Web3 membership club

Cognac brand Hennessy is leveraging Art Basel as the debut physical event for its Web3 membership club, Café 11. The club was announced last month in partnership with Friends with Benefits, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) catering to creatives. DAOs are groups that use blockchain technology to organize and deploy money toward a common interest.

Through Café 11, Hennessy intends to host cultural experiences in a range of spaces, both physical and virtual, taking inspiration from the French salons of the 1920s. Members must belong to Friends with Benefits or own a Café 11 NFT, of which 1,765 tokens were launched last month. The NFT was designed by artist John P. Dessereau, and currently costs $240 on secondary marketplace OpenSea.

For its event at Art Basel in Miami, Café 11 will host a talk on Dec. 1 about the intersection of artificial intelligence and the arts, as well as a speech from Alex Zhang, the “mayor” of Friends with Benefits. A party will follow with live music from DJs.

Read more: DAOs could be the key to Gen Z brand loyalty

Adidas virtual wearable party


As hinted roughly a week ago via Discord, we are officially coming to Miami 🌴😎on Saturday December 3rd to celebrate the launch of the Virtual Gear genesis collection 🤟

Here’s what you need to know:👇 1/6

— Indigo Herz (@indigo_herz) November 20, 2022

To celebrate the launch of its first NFT wearable collection “Virtual Gear,” Adidas is hosting a party in Miami for holders of its previous NFTs. While not officially affiliated with Art Basel, an Adidas spokesperson told Ad Age, the event, called “(Probably) Real,” will draw off interest in the fair by being held in the area on Dec. 3. It is invite-only for owners of Adidas’ collections, including “Into the Metaverse,” as well as owners of Bored Ape and Mutant Ape NFTs. Adidas has a close relationship with Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC): Last year, it acquired a specially designed Bored Ape called Indigo Herz, whom the brand has featured in a variety of marketing, including an ad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“Virtual Gear” is a 16-piece collection of NFT jackets that are intended to be interoperable across metaverses. Holders of Adidas’ “Capsule” NFTs can “burn” their tokens—destroying them by sending them to an inaccessible crypto wallet—and receive a wearable. They are also available to non-holders for purchase on secondary marketplaces, currently for a price of $70. Adidas also launched a styling tool for these wearables, which allows holders to redesign their profile-picture NFTs with their virtual gear. 

Timex BAYC watches

In another tie-up with BAYC, Timex is releasing specially designed watches for members of the Bored Ape and Mutant Ape NFT communities, which will drop during an Art Basel launch event in Miami on Dec. 2. The watches will come with corresponding digital twin NFTs. Five hundred pieces, based on Timex’s Waterbury Classic design, will be available for holders during a pre-sale starting Dec. 2. Those who acquire one of the watches will have the piece personalized to their NFT’s art, as well as options to customize the case, strap and etching selections. 

The launch party will be invite-only for BAYC and MAYC holders. Notably, the tie-up is not with BAYC founder Yuga Labs, but rather the BAYC Community Council, an official group of seven holders that are intended to represent the club. Yuga will work alongside the council in making business decisions related to the community going forward.

FaZe Clan phygital ecosystem

FaZe Clan is participating in “The Gateway: A Web3 Metropolis.” The gaming collective—now a public company—is promoting its brand new digital goods ecosystem, “FaZe Forever,” through a physical experience where guests can mint in person their first Forever NFTs. The space will resemble a gamer’s bedroom, featuring gaming setups and physical and digital art. On Wednesday at “Gateway,” FaZe also participated in a panel on interoperability in gaming.

“FaZe Forever” kicked off this week with NFTs in the form of cartridges, inviting buyers to “join the rebellion.” The tokens, available for a limited time, are free and enable unlimited access to the Forever ecosystem. 

Clarks NFT Wallabees

Clarks, the shoe brand known for its moccasin-inspired Wallabees design, is launching at Art Basel a limited-edition model paired to an NFT. Dubbed “Floor Seats,” the new Wallabees model can be acquired only after purchasing a “Street Seams” NFT on marketplace Bubblehouse, where it currently costs $700. However, there will be opportunities to buy the shoe without an NFT at Art Basel. 

As for the shoe itself, “Floor Seats” is a partnership with NBA player Kyle Anderson, and through vintage basketball-inspired material, is supposed to capture the experience of sitting courtside at a game. Lifestyle brand Compound co-created the model with Clarks and Anderson. 

Clarks will also be hosting an in-real-life party around Art Basel on Dec. 2. A song created for the release of the shoe will be performed live by Jadakiss and Dave East. The track is available for streaming on Soundcloud.