Glendale-based Sprecher Brewing Companyis looking to mix tradition with modern technology as the brand ventures into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a marketing and branding technique. An NFT is a digital certificate saying you own the rights to a specific product, whether that product be music, art or some other physical good.
The idea of Sprecher using NFTs was first proposed at a Milwaukee Venture Partners meeting. Matthew Friedel, co-founder of UWM’s Disruptive Technologies Lab School of Information Studies and angel investor/co-founder of Milwaukee Ventures, Inc., was discussing the future of marketing with Sharad Chadha, chief executive officer of Sprecher.
“Sprecher has all these unique logos. When I was looking at the NFT space, I found it kind of interesting that a lot of savvy marketers are minting NFTs and then taking a digital asset and pairing it with a physical good,” Friedel said.
He also noticed that Sprecher has a lot of digital channels where their sodas are popular, including Twitch, which would be an ideal place to introduce a Sprecher NFT to a younger, tech-minded audience. With the help of UWM student Shilpa Tiwari, a batch of minted Sprecher NFTs using the brand’s logo have been created. The NFTs are still being tested in the app MetaMask, which is a wallet for cryptocurrency and NFTs.
[caption id="attachment_542560" align="alignnone" width="768"] Pictured are the minted Sprecher NFTs, which use the company's logo. They are being tested in the app MetaMask.[/caption]
Tim Cigelske, director of communications for Sprecher, said this venture marks the intersection of the history of Sprecher with what the brand hopes to be known for in the future.
Cigelske, who just came to Sprecher about three months ago, previously taught digital media at Marquette University. Over the past few years, he has become aware of the growing number of fans the brand has within online platforms such as Twitch and Reddit.
“When we see a surge of traffic at 3 a.m. on a Saturday because someone put Sprecher on his Twitch stream, those are the same people that are into NFTs,” Cigelske said. “It’s kind of a meandering road. You wouldn’t expect it on the surface, but it could really be a good fit.”
The goal is to eventually tie the purchase of a Sprecher NFT to a physical good or experience, although Cigelske said the company is still working out the specifics as to what that may be.
“If you were to come to the brewery or to some sort of event we had, you would also have some sort of digital experience,” Cigelske said. “One other possible idea is, let’s say for people who are really into the grape soda online, they would order a case of grape soda and we would have an NFT that shows the process of that happening. When that case of soda arrives, you kind of own the whole experience.”
The NFTs are not yet for sale and there isn’t a solid timeline as to their launch, although Cigelske said it would make the most sense to link it to a summer event like Root Beer Bash when the company is going through their busy season. He said the main point in creating the NFTs is to build community within Sprecher’s fanbase.
Friedel said he thinks this is just the beginning of companies using NFTs and believes that every brand will be doing the same thing in the future. Major companies including McDonalds and Taco Bell have already stepped into the NFT space.
“What I think is interesting about this is Sprecher was the first custom brewery in Wisconsin – a very old and iconic brand – but they’re doing these innovative things in the NFT space to make themselves different,” Friedel said.