Over the weekend, the City of Beijing published a report entitled the ‘Beijing Internet 3.0 Innovation Development White Paper’. It does not indicate a move by China to embrace cryptocurrency, but the local government now seems keen for the metaverse to evolve beyond entertainment to everyday life and business. In terms of marketing, brands should be less technical and have fewer expectations of guaranteed sales in this unfamiliar marketing environment, B³ LAB’s Kiki Zhang tells WARC’s China Editor Jenny Chan.

WARC: How did you first get into NFTs?

Kiki Zhang: I first heard about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) about two years ago but did not become interested until the point when Beeple’s NFT art was sold for $69m at Christie’s.

I got my first crypto wallet then and signed up on OpenSea to trade. I also had a hunch that NFTs would become the next trend in brand marketing. Now we can say that my premonition has been fulfilled. As an increasing number of global brands launch their own NFT collections, the metaverse, Web3, and virtual fashion have all become keywords and transformed into an important strategy of digital marketing.

What’s your favourite Web3 project, either in China or overseas? And why?

Personally, my favourite project is definitely Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 unique digital collectables living on the Ethereum blockchain, not only because I’m a holder, but also because I think through this project, Yuga Labs has built a new IP kingdom. Now, we can see lots of leading brands like Gucci, Adidas, and Blue Dash (pictured below) collaborating with BAYC. The most revolutionary component in each partnership, thus increasing their popularity further, is decentralisation. The initiatives are entirely focused on extending the engagement between their respective communities and making the Bored Ape Metaverse accessible to all NFT Holders. The collaborations are completed by the holders, instead of the in-house brand teams.

So I think that’s a new template for all Web3 cross-IP partnerships. That’s amazing.


NFT OOH displays



Limited edition co-branded digital artwork for the Blue Dash vodka was released in April 2023 by B³ LAB. Each BAYC digital artwork is unique to the brand and provides a customized user path on the Conflux public blockchain in China. Drinkers scan the product (bottle) to be redirected to the brand’s online platform, and obtain the digital collection with blockchain technology used to confirm the untamperable rights which will then be permanently stored in the user’s Mints digital wallet.

You have a wide range of connections with blue-chip NFTs that are built on public blockchains, will there be any legal concerns if you work with these groups in China, why?

The legal aspect is always our main priority.

All we do is connect the diverse communities and the people behind NFTs: the younger generations who are passionate about joining and pushing new trends. We have to stand with them and understand what they are interested in, what they expect brands to do in the future, etc.

I want to clarify that we are not providing any formal financial advice or generating any financial activity such as selling virtual assets. We are just connecting the different groups through specialized advice.

We are aiming to be a bridge between the Web2 and Web3 worlds, providing full-chain consulting services to companies, artists and IP holders, as well as combining metaverse development roadmaps with traditional integrated marketing to empower communication to maximize results.

Can you tell us more about community marketing in Web3 – how’s that different from traditional marketing and how has it shaped your philosophy in providing consultation for companies?

As blockchain technology makes it possible to record everyone’s trajectory and contribution in a decentralized and immutable way, user-driven communities will deepen their participation in the Web3 trend, and that includes brands’ own communities, such as Starbucks Odyssey on Polygon.

We help our clients shift the way they deliver brand information – from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, in customer relationship management – from centralized one-way output to the active participation of users in co-creation, and when creating channels to capture accurate traffic – from the high-cost Internet ads to leveraging the diverse NFT communities.

All the solutions are aimed at reducing costs and increasing efficiency, in a way that will capture the attention of Gen Z, with additional potential for future growth. We believe that an active and self-driving user community powered by Web3 will show tremendous growth for all brands in the future.

How do you make Web3 community marketing attractive in the eyes of Web2 decision-makers and how do you measure success in terms of ROI? What’s something amazing that you would like to offer to brands but they never come to ask for it?

Many brands are willing to give new and trendy things a try in order to attract the young generation. At the very beginning, make an attempt at exposure on social media. Being the first to launch something in a specific industry could be the driving force for Web2 marketers to make a Web3 decision. But after the first wave, we need to dig deeper to see how Web3 marketing can really energize brands. For now, we usually offer clients a case-by-case and brand-by-brand strategy which are all different from one another. Some brands can enter Web3 with their physical products, as Nike did; some brands can increase the applicability of NFTs in loyalty programs at the backend, as Starbucks did. We advise the best combos for brands according to their situations and requests. We provide them with IP licences, digital-collectable launches, tech set-ups, community connections, virtual humans and so on.

Meanwhile, traditional marketing is still necessary alongside Web3 marketing which makes a buzz on social media. So it should be a combination of online and offline, virtual and real. All of these elements should be considered in a long-term roadmap. After you understand how Web3 marketing works, and what’s the inner logic of it, you can make real connections with young target audiences who can be valuable to brands in the further decades.

An active user-driven community on a cryptographically based distributed ledger, and a new branded ecosystem with a Web3 spirit will be amazing, but brands don’t ask for that at the beginning.

What are the futuristic trends in Web3 marketing in China? Is the connection to crypto-art the major legitimate way to go about it?

In my opinion, there are two main ways. The first one is to regard NFTs as digital art or as virtual products in China. In view of the many problems of NFTs that are not suitable for China’s regulatory conditions, the concept of NFRs (non-fungible rights) provides more marketing applications.

And the second way is to apply smart contracts run using blockchain technology as tools to enhance the business. For example, smart contracts allowed the e-CNY red envelope to be integrated with retail marketing campaigns on super apps in China.

What do you consider is the largest threat or barrier for Web3 marketers to attract mainstream users? How can we help change that?

That’s a good question and I think that’s really important for innovative brands. Because we want to use new technology to bring consumers more interesting experiences, not to confuse them. So we should avoid too many technical words in a Web3 marketing campaign, just like Starbucks did. Starbucks’ NFTs aren’t called NFTs: the company is calling them ‘journey stamps’.

Members can earn perks for buying coffee and completing online quizzes. To make such a ‘Gamefi’ concept more acceptable to mainstream users, we should lower the doorsill as much as possible for people to understand what we actually want to achieve.

To also ensure mainstream users can take part in Web3 activities more easily and smoothly, we should help them get their first digital wallets.

Artificial intelligence has taken over Web3’s buzz in recent months, and how do you feel about this phenomenon? Have you seen any helpful applications of AIGC in Web3?

Actually, I think AI is a revolutionary tool for all industries, not only Web3 or metaverse marketers. It is like the second industrial revolution as it has changed everything in the way we live and work.

The most obvious use case is AI allowing everyone to create their own avatars, and even 3D models, in the online space in an easy way. It makes everyone a creator and a player, not only a user.

Recently, we saw that popular AI tool ChatGPT was used to create the Turbo memecoin, the first smart contract inspired by the GPT-4 language model. It has been regarded as a remarkable milestone for the crypto industry.