Téo Bertrand (Michelin): "NFTs are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end".
Michelin is to launch a collection of 5,000 NFTs with a dedicated club. This project should enable the French group to strengthen its links with fans, according to one of its managers.
The Big Whale: Following in the footsteps of Nike, Lacoste and Renault, Michelin is now taking its turn with Web3. Why?
Téo Bertrand: There are several reasons. The first is that Michelin is a group that has always supported its community, whether on the road with tyres and maps or in restaurants with the Guide. So we need to continue to have this guiding role in new worlds like NFTs and web3.
The second reason is that we clearly feel that our community wants more interaction with the brand. Today, when you buy tyres, you very often go through a distributor, when you go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, there's no direct link with the Guide and the brand. With the "Michelin 3xplorer Club" and the NFTs, we're going to be able to create this more direct link.
When did you decide to launch the project?
The reflections started at the beginning of 2022. First of all, we needed time to get used to the idea. Not everyone was familiar with the vocabulary and techniques associated with NFTs, but then we decided to go ahead.
Was it easy to convince people internally?
2022 marked a turning point. The whole company became aware of the importance of the subject, from the teams to the management committee. The project was well received fairly quickly. Then it had to be put in place.
And this project. What is it? What are these NFTs going to be used for?
Our collection of NFTs, which will be sold around 15 June, is based on two things.
Firstly the visual dimension. We're going to revisit the Michelin Man like never before. It's a real source of pride because it's not easy to touch such an iconic character.
Then there's the community dimension: every NFT holder will have access to specific benefits via prize draws to win exclusive experiences. There won't just be entry tickets, but Michelin experiences.
Concretely, what does this mean?
We are partners of many events such as the GP motorbike championship. Holders of NFTs will be able to attend the races and probably meet the drivers. There are also activities linked to the Guide. We'll have invitations to Michelin-starred restaurants and star award ceremonies.
There will also be days dedicated to the Michelin company, with visits to factories and the museum. The aim is really to offer experiences like we've never offered before.
Do we really need NFTs to do this kind of thing?
That's a good question. Our aim is really to target Michelin fans. The NFTs and quests we're going to set up will allow us to test fans' willingness to really come to our events and get them involved. The aim is not to sell NFTs to just anyone. NFTs are not an end, but a means.
Is there not a risk of speculation on your NFTs?
It's impossible to completely control this factor, but the timing clearly shows that there is no speculative approach. We're not launching a project like this to make money, but to get fans of the brand involved.
How did you design the collection?
Like most companies, we didn't have the web3 expertise in-house, so we had to find the right partners who shared the same values and vision for the brand.
Did you find them?
Frankly, we think we did. We've worked with Bulldog, Exclusible, Goëland Studio, NFT Morning and others. These partners have the codes of the web3 universe, which is a real advantage.
Speaking of universes, what type of population are you targeting with these NFTs?
The aim is to democratise Web3. We are well aware that our NFTs will attract a well-informed audience, but we also want to reach Michelin enthusiasts who are not familiar with these subjects. Once the collection is available, we'll be forging partnerships with other collections and other brands.
For the blockchain, you've chosen Ethereum. Why?
Ethereum is one of the most important blockchains. It has established itself in the world of NFTs, and the change in its consensus algorithm with the switch to proof of stake was a real selling point. Ethereum has greatly reduced its energy consumption (read our feature) which is a big issue for Michelin.
You could have chosen a "French" blockchain like Tezos...
Ethereum is a leader in the sector.
What is the price of NFTs?
The price may still change, but we should be around 0.1 ether (just under €200 at the current price). The aim was to make the price accessible to as many people as possible. We don't just want to have a privileged club.
5000 NFTs is quite limited given the number of potential customers, but it's a start. With a community of 5,000 people, we can create a special bond, we can test things.
How are you going to sell NFTs? Do you have a specific strategy?
We've launched the Michelin 3xplorer Club Twitter account, and we'll soon have a Discord to manage the community with a dedicated channel for NFTs holders.
The idea over the next few weeks is to be able to exchange with the community, find out what fans want. There are going to be partnerships with other collections like Renault and Alpine. We're also working with communities close to gastronomy.
How much budget did you have internally?
There were no budget constraints, but the aim is to at least break even.