As believers in the possibilities opened by the world of emerging digital assets, the Bulls have a longstanding interest in making a meaningful, intentional impact on the web3 space.
However, web3 and the proliferation of NFTs has also been in many ways a turned into a cynical endeavor for many companies and projects - a short-term cash grab looking to generate revenue out of nothing, a gold rush mentality that resulted in many consumers feeling burned and many brands tanking their own reputations in the space. The Bulls wanted to do things differently - utilize the power of one of the most ubiquitous sports brands on the planet in the world of digital assets, while at the same time speaking the language of web3 and creating NFTs that truly celebrate the artists behind the work.
The Bulls wanted to play in the sandbox but do it a different way - one that raises awareness for the space & celebrates artists, but does so in a way that stays true to our brand and ethos. We wanted a project befitting a legacy brand like the Bulls, and one that celebrates the intersection of basketball, culture and art.
With the goal of putting together a meaningful, artist-first NFT drop, the Bulls decided to launch THE AUROCHS, a project offering just 23 single edition 1/1 pieces of art from 23 of the most innovative and creative artists in the web3 space. The project gave a diverse array of artists from around the world - all artists active in the NFT space with various styles and approaches - the chance to reimagine the Bulls logo, one of the most recognizable sports brands in the world.
The Bulls reached out to each artist personally to ensure a varied approach to the artwork and a diverse array of voices - more than half the artists were people of color or women. Each artist would submit their own interpretation of the logo, in various styles (video, design, photography, AI), and the Bulls would mint each piece on the Ethereum blockchain as a single, 1/1 asset. Crucially to the ethos of an 'artist first' project, the Bulls would also split the revenue with each artist equally after the sale was made - and 10% of each sale would go to After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization focused on teens in high-risk Chicago neighborhoods. The nonprofit was selected through a vote by the 23 artists at the beginning of the project.
The Bulls then planned to tap into their partnership with Coinbase to launch the project and sell all 23 assets as an auction exclusively on their new platform, Coinbase NFT, marking the first sports-related project launched on the marketplace.
Throughout the day 24-hour auction launched, the Bulls changed their profile picture on Twitter in intervals to represent each of the artists' work, as a hat tip to the NFT profile pic culture. We also posted each of the NFTs on Instagram, which was one of the most engaged posts published by the team in 2022, with over 200,000 engagements and nearly 2 million impressions.
In addition to traditional marketing outreach, we reflected the typical methods of promotion by web3 artists and fans. The project was promoted via Discord communities, and the project was talked about in detail on Twitter Spaces (where the artists hosted live discussions on their inspiration and approach). Web3 focused outlets like The First Mint & CoinDesk spotlighted this approach in their coverage documenting the Bulls' foray into web3. The Bulls produced a series of videos on some of the Chicago-based artists, highlighting them, their careers and their respective projects. THE AUROCHSwas also promoted through the artistis' individual channels, bringing 23 different artistic communities together with the Bulls for this entry into web3.
In terms of strategy and execution, THE AUROCHS stands as a unique foray by any professional sports team or brand. It was a small number of premium assets, auctioned as art pieces. It will forever stay as the Bulls first collaboration project ever on the blockchain, and it allowed the team to use their brand to shine a spotlight on artists around the world.
The collection sold out, garnering over 60 ETH in revenue (around $80K), 10% of which was donated to After School Matters. The remaining proceeds were split evenly with each artist. The highest selling piece of the collection was the artist GXNG YXNG's piece, which sold for around $13,000 USD, but each artist saw their piece go to a passionate supporter.
Most importantly, we saw the excitement and engagement the artists received in their communities and beyond, as more people were exposed to their artwork. On traditional Bulls platforms alone, the content shared by the team saw nearly 5 million impressions and 300,000 engagements. The team also partnered with the artists to run a 4-hour long Twitter Space celebrating the project launch, a Space in which each artist had the chance to talk about their process and creative vision and which drew hundreds of engaged users thoughout the discussion. Many artists also shared and discussed the project in their own communities, including web3 stalwarts like Deadfellaz (20,000+ Discord community)
In collaborating directly with the Bulls, the artists were able to express themselves in a new and unique way. In a space with a lot of shallow, revenue-first projects, THE AUROCHS was an artist-first, positive and supportive project, raising awareness of the web3 space among Bulls fans and providing the team with a platform to uplift and amplify web3 artists. It's just the beginning of our foray into this space, and the team feels eternally grateful to have gotten to partner with some of the most innovative and creative artists in the space.
Since this was an artist-first project, we would be remiss not to include the names of these incredible artists we were fortunate to partner with on THE AUROCHS, and who are now tied with the Bulls on the blockchain forever. The 23-artist roster includes:
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