The first artist to be featured will be Slimesunday, who will auction the work he developed in partnership with Playboy. The sale will be followed by a Pride-themed collection in June, created by digital artist Blake Kathryn to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
The partnership between Playboy and Nifty has three priorities: endorse Playboy’s existing art and photography archives, encourage and support emerging digital artists, and establish a new source of revenue for the brand. Additionally, the partnership will provide grants to support artists entering the NFT community.
The three objectives build and complement each other. Beyond Playboys’ collaborations with digital artists such as Slimesunday, memorable archives published in the magazine can potentially be turned into NFTs and sold in the marketplace, similarly to how TIMES magazine auctioned three of its iconic covers for over $440,000.
“We wholeheartedly believe in the future of a blockchain- and crypto-powered art world that ensures artist and collector protection, ongoing artist compensation, and the democratization of distribution and collecting.” said Rachel Webber, Chief Brand Officer at PLBY Group.
Entering the NFT market can be a tremendous opportunity for Playboy. Less than three years after founder Hugh Hefner’s death, the company stopped publishing its print magazine in March of 2020 and it’s unlikely it will restart. The vast majority of content is now digital and its biggest money earner is licensing the Playboy brand.
One aspect that Playboy needs to consider for the success of the long term partnership is how to promote it to an audience beyond stereotypical NFT buyers. The question is whether Playboy magazine’s target market will be enthusiastic about nonfungible tokens. Recent NFT successes such as Christie’s Beeple auction for $69 million and the sale of the first ever tweet were enabled by crypto investors willing to pour millions into NFTs. Notably, these auctions were one-time events. If Playboy wants to establish a stable stream of revenue off NFTs, it will be challenged with defining its branding and target market.
Other industries entering the NFT market are likely to face similar issues. For example, some luxury fashion brands are exploring 3D clothing, but must consider the exclusivity and appeal of the physical garments. DC Comics is also exploring the possibility of entering the market.
Meanwhile, Nifty Gateway is a marketplace for NFTs that was started in 2018 and acquired by crypto exchange Gemini in 2019. Last year, Gemini, which the Winklevoss twins founded, launched Nifty Marketplace exclusively for the auction of digital art and collectibles.