If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind digital copies of Budweiser beer cans, you’re going to have to pay up. On Nov. 30, the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand launched its first non-fungible token (NFT) sale, The Heritage Collection, featuring 1,936 unique Budweiser digital beer can designs. These distinct, generative art NFTs showcase iconic cans throughout the brewery’s rich history.
It took less than an hour for the Heritage Collection to sell out and 20% of purchases have already been flipped for a profit. You can still snag copies on OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, but the cheapest resales are going for upwards of $2,200 and rare cans are running for more than $20,000.
NFTs, or ‘non-fungible tokens,’ allow users to buy and sell unique digital items tracked via blockchain. Budweiser adopted Web3 protocols (a decentralized platform that relies on blockchain technology) to provide a unique signature to legitimize NFT purchases. NFTs can encompass any digital objects — apparel, animated GIFs, or, as in this case, exclusive photos. This is the culmination of Budweiser’s effort to go full digital beginning at the end of August.
“The Budweiser Heritage Collection is designed to celebrate the brand’s iconic history while also moving Budweiser into the metaverse,” Spencer Gordon, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of digital and Draftline, the brand’s in-house creative agency, said in a statement. “The launch of this NFT collection is yet another example of our innovative and consumer-first approach to further strengthen our iconic brands.”
On Aug. 25, Budweiser purchased the domain ‘beer.eth’ to establish its NFT platform for 30 Ethereum — roughly $95,000. During the November sales, the @budweiserUSA Twitter account traded memes with crypto-influencers and discussed releases with a new Discord community, and pledged to holders of its NFTs that each “will act as an entry key to the Budverse, unlocking exclusive benefits, rewards, and surprises.”
36 of the non-fungible beer cans feature gold versions of the classic American brewery’s most iconic heritage cans. Each gold NFT carries all core NFT benefits in addition to “hyper-exclusive, gold-only levels of access — your VIP ticket to the best experiences in Budverse and beyond.”
Budweiser is the next in a growing line of major corporations who are getting in early on this potentially massive technological paradigm shift with Web3. These include Nike, who launched Nikeland on Roblox and acquired leading NFT and digital collectibles brand RTFKT just this month. Not to be outdone by the competition, Adidas launched trendy cooperative efforts with Pixel Vault’s Punks Comic and Bored Ape Yacht Club. Chipotle is marketing products in the metaverse, and Facebook rebranded themselves as Meta.
This is a markedly different reaction than the early 2000s when large firms lost significant ground to upstarts during their first hesitant forays into the electronic world. If traditional brands like Budweiser are to survive and thrive in this new market, they seem to realize that they need to be on the crest of the next innovative internet wave.