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ATP Tour Launches Customisable NFT Posters With Artchild & Honor Titus
The ATP Tour is launching their second Web3 campaign, this time focusing on a low ticket high volume approach with customisable posters that come with a digital twin
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ATP Tour Launches Customisable NFT Posters With Artchild & Honor Titus
The Sporting Crypto Newsletter is supported by The HBAR Foundation.
Last year, the ATP dropped their first-ever Web3 campaign with LOVE, an on-chain generative art collection with Martin Grasser and Art Blocks.
It was just weeks after FTX had imploded and the Web3 market was in a state of shock and disarray.
Yet the project did incredibly well and sold out to hundreds of digital art collectors.
With that success, you would think the ATP would have been tempted to follow up with further editions of LOVE, or more Web3 activations.
But they’ve waited almost a year to launch POSTERS, customisable NFT posters that come with a physical copy (phygital, anyone?) in collaboration with acclaimed artist Honor Titus and digital art platform Artchild.
Episode 1 of the Sporting Crypto Podcast featured Mark Epps, Director of Comms & Web3 at the ATP Tour, and I was lucky enough to speak with him again for this piece to get some background on the story, decision making and development of the POSTERS concept.
Discussed in this Newsletter:
🎾 The ATP Tour x Web3
🎨 POSTERS Explained
🎾 The ATP Tour x Web3
Although we have seen Tennis as a sport take multiple dips in Web3 waters, this is the ATP Tour’s second foray.
Their previous drop, LOVE, was launched in December 2022, in collaboration with Art Blocks and artist Martin Grasser. It was a first-of-its-kind generative art project which used in-match data from the ATP Tour's finale in 2022 as inputs to create pieces of art.
The artwork represents data by showing a tennis ball striking a court, with vibrant colours. The art itself varies in rarity depending on how important a point is — for example, championship-winning points being extra rare.
The LOVE drop was niche and aimed at two audiences:
Crypto Natives who like art. It plays to an audience that are 90% likely to be crypto native but also like Tennis, and are regular collectors of Art Blocks drops.
Crypto-curious Affluent Tennis fans. The other side of the audience is the crypto-curious affluent Tennis lover.
The ATP didn’t onboard millions of people here but it generated revenue, got great PR and the collectors of the pieces are incredibly happy. That’s a decent spot to be in from your first-ever Web3-related campaign.
A win on all fronts, apart from the fact that it’s not something mainstream that all Tennis fans have access to.
Mark Epps himself said:
“LOVE was a 300 piece collection, at a high price point, that spoke to quite a niche collector base. So when we looked forward to 2023, we wanted to focus on accessibility, and creating a bridge for tennis's enormous global fanbase to come into this world. That has always been the goal”
That’s where POSTERS comes in.
🎨 POSTERS Explained
Last week, the ATP Tour announced POSTERS — customisable NFT posters that come with a physical print, shipped to your door.
They are partnering with Artchild to launch the digital and physical posters at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals in Turin later this month.
The core poster will be designed by Los Angeles-based artist Honor Titus.
Titus is known internationally for tennis-themed paintings and his work has critical acclaim from publications such as The New York Times, Artnet, GQ and Interview magazine. It is his first foray into the blockchain art world.
Fans can customize their own versions of the poster on Artchild's digital platform using artist-curated colour palettes. The flow is simple and allows you to create a provably unique piece of art.
For POSTERS, the customisable pieces will be printed and shipped to purchasers along with an NFT collectible minted on the Polygon blockchain. Some fortunate fan-designed posters will be displayed at the tournament arena.
The original poster by Titus (the blue version!) will also be available exclusively during the 2023 finals.
All versions will sell for $50 plus shipping, including both the NFT and physical print.
Finally, players at the Tour’s finale will also have the opportunity to create their own customisable pieces, to then be auctioned for charitable purposes.
Mark Epps thinks the ATP is bringing the concept of sports memorabilia in the form of posters into the modern age:
“When you look back through sports and events, there's this incredible history of iconic event posters — think World Cups, and Olympics, for example. They are pieces of memorabilia that fans have bought for generations. When we realised the history that posters have in tennis, we knew this was the idea we wanted to explore. We thought ‘let's bring the posters concept into the modern age using Web3’.”
• The ATP have partnered with Artchild, Honor Titus and Polygon to create fan-customisable posters that come in physical and digital form when purchased
• Core posters created by Honor Titus will also be available, digitally and physically, for $50 + shipping
• Players will also create their unique versions of the poster which will be auctioned for charity
At the start of the year, I posted my predictions for 2023.
There were 3 trends that I thought we would see this year from a sports and Web3 perspective; Co-Creation, customisation and big brands coming to play in a meaningful way.
“One of the big trends that I’m seeing, that I think will be a big part of 2023, is co-creation.
What this means is that the communities that a lot of these Web3 projects have generated are going to start to use said communities to input on the creation of the things that they themselves purchase, collect or use.”
When trying to make these predictions, I thought about what is unique to blockchain technology, or a huge advantage, compared to ‘Web2’ systems.
With NFTs and digital content, you can compress the feedback loop massively with your community and crucially, co-creation and customisation are scalable.
It also allows for the modularity of art and creation, by connecting the artist or creator to their audience. In this case, Honor Titus has given you the brushstrokes — but you as the fan complete this piece of art that you then own. Your fingerprints, and his, are on this piece of art that you can authentically own both digitally and physically.
As Mark Epps puts it more concisely:
“It’s something that Web3 can uniquely offer, it's a connection between you and an artist with the ability to co-create. I don't think those avenues have really been open to people before in a meaningful way.”
The ATP had great success with their LOVE NFT but haven't rushed to build on that success since.
Many brands in the space want to go for quantity > quality but the ATP are proving the opposite is a solid strategy. There could easily have been the temptation to continue churning out more niche (but beautiful) art drops with various acclaimed artists, to drive revenue.
But the aim of Web3 in sports is not to make the most amount of revenue possible from the smallest audience you can, it’s to engage and activate a larger audience of fans globally.
POSTERS is doing exactly that. The ATP are trying to get this into the hands of the many, not the few.
And using art as the core value proposition is not surprising.
It’s essentially how NFTs came to prominence and the digital art market is more robust when NFT markets fall. They are not ‘crypto recession proof’ but there is less speculation in realm of Web3.
Web3 often promises a more egalitarian world, a promise that has not been fulfilled until now, and likely never will be. However, NFTs in particular have made some aspects of culture less gated and exclusive. Art is a great example of this. The friction of buying physical pieces of art combined with the risks of fraud and counterfeiting makes it a market with much friction.
Discovery is also difficult. Galleries often have incredible leverage over artists, exchanging their network, contacts and distribution for handsome cuts on artist sales.
NFTs make Art frictionless, and the authenticity is baked into the code.
It gives artists a unique opportunity to create with their audience and fanbase.
It doesn’t require shipping and can’t be damaged in transport.
Discovery is seamless and has no gatekeepers.
POSTERS by the ATP Tour has all the ingredients for a successful project and I'm excited to see what the uptake is like among Tennis fans.
It’s a novel concept from a sports rights holder that isn’t putting revenue in front of fan engagement.
And while it might not be the ATP’s last art drop, they do view this as the cornerstone for future Web3 activities:
“ Our goal with POSTERS is to get meaninful digital assets into as many wallets and fan’s hands as possible. That’s a fondation upon which we can build big ideas like a loyalty program and build a community. So that's the thinking, and that's why scale is so important.”
Scale is paramount for Mark and the ATP. They understand that NFTs are a feature, not the product, that Web3 rails should be used for when creating a fan engagement proposition.
It also underlines the most difficult issue that many in sports are faced with: what now?
We now have thousands of fans who have bought this digital content and they’re all in a community together, what do we do with them?
How do we provide them value and how do we engage them in a novel way that is unique to this technology?
While the ATP have figured out all the answers to those questions, they are not approaching this world with a ‘one-and-done’ approach.
It’s calculated and mindful of the scrutiny that Web3 is under from a fan perspective. It’s creating value in the short term while in parallel thinking about how they can engage on a broader, holistic level through everyone’s favourite Web3 buzzword of 2023: Loyalty.
💡 Sporting Crypto Spotlight - Ep. 8 of the Podcast!
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