Wawa made their own NFTs and the internet thought but 40k still entered to win one

When Wawa announced on social media on Friday that it was releasing its own NFTs as part of its annual Hoagiefest marketing campaign, some avid fans of the convenience store chain took it very personally.

Twitter responses to the announcement included “This is the worst day of my life Wawa please don’t” to “there really is nothing sacred to live for” and “can’t look Wawa in the face again after this .”

A fan who tweeted under the handle @BefishProd even wrote a free verse poem for the convenience store chain:

“MY HEART IS BROKEN NOOOO

MY NIGHT IS RUINED

MY LIFE IS RUINED

I CRY EVERY DAY AND EVERY HOUR

WAWA HOW COULD YOU

I have never been so betrayed.

Others have compared the company’s decision to go into NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, to Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the dark side of the Force in Star Wars. Some people sent Wawa a GIF of Obi-Wan Kenobi yelling “It was said you were going to destroy the Sith, you wouldn’t join them.”

One person even uttered the line “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” from the 2008 Batman movie, The dark Knightand Wawa.

And of course, Sheetz fans didn’t waste a minute declaring that the announcement meant their team had secured victory in the long-running Pennsylvania convenience store battle.

“I see Sheetz finally won the war and they didn’t even do anything,” one Twitter user wrote.

Even though Wawa is giving away and not selling its 5,000-plus NFTs — which the company describes as “unique collectible digital artwork” of its Hoagiefest “figures, backgrounds, hoagies and accessories” — the negative reaction to the announcement on social media has illustrated how controversial NFTs remain.

According to Mike DiPietro, assistant professor of marketing at La Salle Universityan NFT is a “unique, irreplaceable, verifiable digital work” whose authenticity is monitored by blockchain technology.

NFTs are often bought and sold online with cryptocurrency and allow artists to sell their digital work for thousands, or sometimes, millions of dollars. Artworks can be anything from videos to digital images, autographs to avatars. In 2021 alone, the NFT market reached a value of $41 billion, according to Business Insider.

But the NFT market is also seen as volatile and risky, prone to fraudsters and bad for the environment, as the blockchain technology needed to conduct transactions and verify NFTs requires a vast computer network that uses a lot of energy, according to Forbes And Wired.

Yet many companies and celebrities, from Adidas to Madonna, have entered the world of NFTs. Even Major League Baseball announced it would enter the NFT game this year, with digital baseball cards.

DiPietro said Wawa’s NFTs could be the company’s foray into the metaversea theoretical 3D world with which users will interact through a virtual reality viewer (think of OASIS in Ready Player One). Citing a 2022 paper from consulting group McKinsey & Company, DiPietro said private equity funding in the metaverse already exceeds $120 billion this year (up from $13 billion last year), and 59% of consumers respondents were excited about the transition to the metaverse.

“With the digital asset, Wawa may want to guide their clients into the metaverse, to digital content for a future strategy they may have,” he said. “Maybe those people can form a metaverse community and, obviously, they’ve got people talking.”

While you won’t be able to eat a hoagie in the metaverse, one day you might be able to earn points for a free hoagie by playing there, or you might be able to visit the Wawa room of an art museum to see a bunch of Hoagiefest NFT on display, DiPietro said.

“This could be a way for Wawa to look into NFTs and do more research so they have the skill level when this becomes something more common,” he said. “When you look at research companies that are evaluating the growth aspect of this arena and you see a statistic that 59% of consumers are willing to have a metaverse relationship with the companies they do business with, it is hard to ignore if you are the chief marketing officer.

Despite the backlash Wawa received on social media, Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said the response to the campaign was “overwhelming”. The company has received more than 40,000 entries for the sweepstakes, which runs through July 24, in the first two days alone, she said.

“While we don’t expect everyone to be intrigued by the world of NFTs, we are thrilled to see such excitement with so many entries received in just the first few days of the lottery,” he said.

Bruce stressed that Wawa is not selling its NFTs, nor will it receive profits if they are eventually sold, but the chain’s charitable partners could benefit from any future sales of them, he said.

According to a press release, 11 winners will receive a “rare” animated Wawa NFT with a custom T-shirt that matches their NFT, as well as a Hoagiefest social swag pack. One winner will receive a rare Wawa animated NFT co-branded with Reese’s, a custom T-shirt that matches their NFT, and Wawa and Reese’s merchandise packs. Fifty people will receive an NFT, T-shirt and swag pack and 3,950 will receive an NFT.

Everyone else will have to settle for memes.