BinSina celebrates UAE's 50th anniversary with NFT ad – Arab News

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DUBAI: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have been all the rage making their mark in industries ranging from fashion to now, advertising.
Brands including Twitter and Taco Bell have jumped onto the bandwagon globally and this month, CryptTV, an American entertainment company focused on creating horror content, dropped 10,000 NFTs of 10 CryptTV monsters.
Similarly, restaurant firm Buffalo Wild Wings started selling three NFTs, dubbed NF-OTs, to mark the five-year anniversary of the only Super Bowl to have been decided in overtime.
In the region, BinSina is among the first brands to have ventured into this space in honor of the UAE’s 50th anniversary, celebrated on Dec 2. last year. The pharmacy chain, in partnership with creative agency LivingRoom Communications, created a two-pronged campaign to celebrate the occasion.
Designed to reflect the history of the UAE, the first part of the campaign included a traditional mural designed by LivingRoom Communications, showcasing the story and evolution of the country. It was displayed in the windows of BinSina’s 120 stores.
Then, to capture the progressive spirit of the Emirates, the company wanted to use a media channel that reflected the future, resulting in the decision to turn the mural into an NFT. 
The agency added effects and animations to the mural design to turn it into a digital art piece. It then created a software cryptocurrency wallet MetaMask and uploaded the digital art piece on NFT marketplace OpenSea.
The launch was announced on social media platforms including niche channels such as Reddit and Quora, resulting in word-of-mouth awareness and interest.
Clarence de Guzman, copywriter at LivingRoom Communications, told Arab News: “Unlike on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook where currencies come in the form of likes and views, numbers on forums rely on how far the message has gone.
“We started talks about how NFTs in Dubai and the Middle East are picking up, then we joined budding communities and chat groups exclusively for NFT artists and creators in the UAE particularly,” he said.
The awareness resulted in the work being “mentioned on Twitter, tagged on forums and even featured as a top NFT influencer on sites like LunarCrush,” in addition to attention from local press, added De Guzman. The Discord server recorded a boost of 500-plus new members shortly after the OpenSea release.
The auction is currently taking place on OpenSea via Ethereum.
“We expect a value of up to 80 Ethereums ($219,074) judging by how the NFT minting market in the UAE behaves at the moment,” he said, adding that the agency was creating a series of artworks as a follow-up to the ad.
In the world of disappearing content and short attention spans, memorability is something most brands can only dream of, and few can achieve.
“More than its monetary value, an NFT as an ad has a promising potential in immortalizing a brand, and that’s every advertising agency’s goal,” De Guzman said.
But he pointed out that consumers may not fully embrace the idea just yet.
“The consumer market is still in a transition phase — and just like how we felt when we were first introduced to the concept of the Internet, some people resist the credibility of NFTs. It would be amusing to see this idea fully realized years later,” he added.
LONDON: Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, launched late on Sunday in Apple’s App Store, potentially marking the former president’s return to social media after he was banned from several platforms last year.
The app was available shortly before midnight ET and was the top free app available on the App Store early Monday. Truth Social was automatically downloaded to Apple Inc. devices belonging to users who had pre-ordered the app.
Many users reported either having trouble registering for an account or were added to a waitlist with a message: “Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist.”
The app has been available for people invited to use it during its test phase, Reuters previously reported.
Trump was banned from Twitter Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters, after he was accused of posting messages inciting violence.
Led by former Republican US Representative Devin Nunes, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the venture behind Truth Social, joins a growing portfolio of technology companies that are positioning themselves as champions of free speech and hope to draw users who feel their views are suppressed on more established platforms.
So far none of the newer companies, which include Twitter competitors Gettr and Parler and video site Rumble, have come close to matching the popularity of their mainstream counterparts.
“This week we will begin to roll out on the Apple App Store. That’s going to be awesome, because we’re going to get so many more people that are going to be on the platform,” Nunes said in a Sunday appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”
“Our goal is, I think we’re going to hit it, I think by the by the end of March we’re going to be fully operational at least within the United States,” he added.
Truth Social’s app store page detailing its version history showed the first public version of the app, or version 1.0 was available a day ago, confirming a Reuters report. The current version 1.0.1 includes “bug fixes,” according to the page.

DRUMMING SUPPORT
On Friday, Nunes was on the app urging users to follow more accounts, share photos and videos and participate in conversations, in an apparent attempt to drum up activity, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Among Nunes’ posts, he welcomed a new user who appeared to be a Catholic priest and encouraged him to invite more priests to join, according to the person with knowledge of the matter.
Even as details of the app begin trickling out, TMTG remains mostly shrouded in secrecy and is regarded with skepticism by some in tech and media circles. It is unclear, for example, how the company is funding its current growth.
TMTG is planning to list in New York through a merger with blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) and stands to receive $293 million in cash that DWAC holds in a trust, assuming no DWAC shareholder redeems their shares, TMTG said in an Oct. 21 press release.
Additionally, in December TMTG raised $1 billion committed financing from private investors; that money also will not be available until the DWAC deal closes.
Digital World’s activities have come under scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to a regulatory filing, and the deal is likely months away from closing.
LONDON: Technology that merges the virtual and physical worlds could start to become a reality for consumers in a few years, Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. has told advertising agencies, giving more details of its vision for the creation of the metaverse.
Mixed reality (MR) technology could allow a person wearing an MR headset to use a real world object to trigger a virtual world reaction, like hitting a video game character with a real world baseball bat, for instance.
It is one of three types of extended reality technologies often associated with the metaverse. Augmented reality exists, with mobile games like Pokemon Go, but players cannot affect the digital world with a physical object. Virtual reality headsets, like Meta’s Oculus, immerse users into a fully virtual world where they can interact with the environment.
The comments from Meta came on a Zoom call with ad agencies on Thursday, which was scheduled to help advertisers better understand the metaverse, said an agency executive who attended the call. It was Meta’s first roundtable discussion with agencies about the metaverse.
The estimate of mixed reality being a few years away brings additional detail to the timeline of building the metaverse, the futuristic idea of a network of virtual worlds that can be accessed from different devices, which Meta has said could take a decade to build.
Some mixed reality headsets are available, but are not yet geared toward general consumers. Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, which was introduced in 2019, retails for $3,500 and is geared for workplace use.
At its annual Connect conference in October, Meta announced Project Cambria, a headset that will feature mixed reality capabilities and include face and eye tracking. The headset is expected to be released this year.
In the meantime, Meta continued to advise advertisers to experiment with augmented reality ads, such as photo and video filters that overlay digital images onto the real world, the ad agency executive said. The comments reiterated Meta’s pitch at ad industry conferences.
Meta said brands could partner with content creators on AR ads or use the technology for virtual clothing try-ons.
The roundtable with agencies lacked detail on what ad formats could be built for the metaverse, or what specific controls would be in place to prevent brands from appearing next to unsuitable content or actions, the agency executive said.
Advertisers are also looking for detail on how the effectiveness of ads in the metaverse will be measured, and will be asking “what did I get for my money?” the executive said.
A Meta spokesperson declined to comment.
DUBAI: BMW Middle East in partnership with its Dubai importer AGMC, and agency Serviceplan Middle East has released a new NFT, or non-fungible token, campaign called the “Museum of Sound.”
Electric cars are becoming more commonplace as consumers look to a sustainable future. By 2023, BMW will have 25 electric car models on the road, and so the car maker wanted to record and archive the sound of the BMW M engines in its latest campaign.

“A BMW M engine sound is something so unique that fans all over the world get goosebumps whenever they hear its roar,” said Andre Couto, creative director of Serviceplan Middle East, in a statement.
The campaign “came as an idea to immortalize these sounds and these feelings so future generations can appreciate these masterpieces as unique NFTs that we gave to the most valuable BMW M fans, the owners,” he added.
The 19 NFTs were recorded at the Dubai Autodrome Club circuit with the cooperation of several BMW M owners, who followed a pace car driven by racing champion Bruno Spengler so that they could match his braking and track lines, said Kenneth Barnes, senior art director, Serviceplan Middle East.
“Using external mics rigged near the exhaust, engine bay and in the cabin, we documented their rev-ups, downshifts, roars and those crackles and pops. We were particular on the timing of the recording session, as the speed of sound is affected by wind, temperature and humidity,” he said.
Barnes added: “We converted the vehicle’s audio recordings to bend the sound wave into an abstract reactive art giving a unique visual experience and these were preserved as a 1 of 1 ethically-created NFTs.” 
The Museum of Sound NFTs are available on NFT marketplace OpenSea.
LONDON: Spotify Technology’s shares fell 5 percent on Friday after Joe Rogan’s podcast was briefly not accessible on the company’s streaming platform.
The podcast can now be accessed and Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company has been under fire after Rogan, who signed a $100-million deal with Spotify in 2020, aired controversial COVID-19 views on his show and drew protests from artists Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and India Arie.
Spotify’s Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff told advertisers at a conference last week that the backlash around Rogan’s podcast had been a “real learning experience” for the streaming service.
The company’s shares, which have fallen about 59 percent since hitting a record high nearly a year ago, were trading at $151.16 on the New York Stock Exchange.
DUBAI: OSN has expanded its partnership with US-based Endeavor Content, the company behind shows such as “Nine Perfect Strangers” and “Sorry for Your Loss.”
The extended agreement will have OSN adding new content to its library including the romantic comedy “Wolf Like Me,” HBO Max crime series “Tokyo Vice,” Sally Rooney’s “Conversations with Friends,” the drama series “Tell Me Your Secrets,” and the fourth and final season — as well as previous seasons — of “Killing Eve.”
“We are excited to extend our relationship with OSN with this slate of new, original and best-in-category titles that showcase dynamic storytelling with an international appeal,” said Prentiss Fraser, executive vice president of TV Distribution at Endeavor Content, in a statement.
Recently, OSN also expanded its slate of NBCUniversal television content, which will see the entertainment hub exclusively premiering more shows and films this year than ever before.
Nick Forward, managing director for streaming and chief content officer at OSN, said: “Endeavor Content has one of the most exciting slates in the business, working with some of the world’s most extraordinary creative voices. We couldn’t be more excited to expand on our partnership to bring some of 2022’s most anticipated shows exclusively to OSN subscribers in the Middle East.”
d.“In addition to an incredible line-up from Warner Bros and HBO, this deal is yet another step toward bringing the very best of TV entertainment to OSN’s customers,” he said.

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