The 1.265 kg (2.78 pounds) truffle

So to share the tale of the giant NFT truffle, a hunk of fungi that got a tonne of attention, generating over 120 pieces of coverage in some of the top French, UK and US online, print and broadcast media including; Capital, France Bleu, The Times, Forbes US and  BFM TV, Ouest France, Yahoo.com, Le Progrès, La Dépêche, to name a few, as well as a tidal wave of Tweets that sprang from the articles. 

It all started at the beginning of February when we received a very excited call from our client at digital consultancy Venture Makers to tell us that Pupuce the pig had found a 1.265 kg (2.78 pounds) truffle in the Dordogne. He’d hatched a plan to sell it in an NFT auction and he wanted StoriesOut’s help to tell the world.

Bernard Planche truffle expert

The last two years have tested everybody’s concept of reality, but this was really a surreal moment! But luckily it’s the type of curveball that StoriesOut thrives on; technology that pushes boundaries. So the challenge was, of course, accepted.

So after a strong cup of coffee, we got thinking. The thing about truffles is they don’t last forever, so we had to think on our feet and run with it. 

First things first, what’s the most important thing when talking to the press? The story foremost. But where to start?!

This was the tale of two worlds colliding, the ancient tradition of truffle hunting and the futuristic NFT gold rush, growing at breakneck speed. 

Today, at least on social media, a day doesn’t go by without a new story about NFTs or the less digestible Non-Fungible Tokens.  But what does it all mean? Most of the people talking about it don’t actually know what an NFT is. 

The NFT has become synonymous with expensive digital artworks, take the phenomenon of the Bored Ape Yacht Club for one, unique images that can be used as profile pictures etc. which at the time of writing was valued at around $5 billion, thanks in part to investment from A-list celebrities, there’s also the $69 million sale of Beeple’s NFT artwork and not forgetting the the sale of an NFT version of the lyrics of Hey Jude by Julian Lennon for almost $77,000. 

But in fact, none of these are NFTs. An NFT is the digital DNA of an object, it certifies its identity and authenticity so that it cannot be reproduced or corrupted, like a digital certificate of authenticity. An NFT sits on the blockchain, an ultra secure digital ledger. So the Bored Ape images are backed by NFT, the Beepl artwork was sold in several pieces, each image backed by NFT and now someone owns a unique virtual version of the lyrics of “Hey Jude” certified by an NFT which means that it cannot be copied. 

Nonetheless, everyone is trying to get on the bandwagon and as a result journalists are suffering from serious NFT-fatigue with the latest NFT-this and NFT-that, some even adding the term to their email block filters. 

Benard Planche on his estate

Despite the bizarre angle that we had, we needed to give this enormous truffle some context to cut through the noise. Once the news was out there questions from journalists included, “Well, what’s the big deal?” and “So, why is this news?” We needed to put this giant truffle into the big picture so it wasn’t just seen as a gimmick!

Luckily our news agenda addiction, plus our love of French cuisine put it into perspective pretty quickly, our two main arguments being:

1, The fact that you can link a truffle, found in a far away forest (there isn’t even wifi!), to an NFT, shows the potential it can have to authenticate any physical object 

2, Truffles as a luxury product need certification. There is a huge black market for counterfeit food in France. In 2020, for example 15, 451 tonnes of illicit food products were seized by Europol with a value of about €53.8 million. This included everything from wine with added colorants or with false labels to honey with added sugar. 

With this focus we could then work out how to tailor it to different audiences; regional, gastronomy, luxury, crypto, general tech, French lifestyle….the truffle fascinated so many audiences. 

We started with top tier generalist press getting positive responses from news outlets such as broadcast media; BFMTV and France’s most read newspaper Ouest France and the Paris correspondents from The Times and Forbes 

Then we moved to specialist press such as food and luxury lifestyle with uptake from the likes of cookbook queen Martha Stewart and her lifestyle blog and popular crypto food site The Spoon.

Once we had these big hits they started to get shared by lower tier targets on social media, mainly Twitter, then it was picked up by the crypto community. Over a hundred Twitter accounts around the world shared the stories (and still growing) and used the information to publish their own articles focused on the news from a crypto investment perspective. 

There were some truffle-haters of course, as with anything that causes a buzz there’s bound to be a wide range of opinions, but the majority of commentators were excited by the news. As the story picked up momentum people started to think more deeply about the implications of NFT as a way of authenticating a physical object.

The news generated traffic to the OpenSeas auction site resulting in a final sale of the truffle for $10,000. This in turn sparked a new wave of interest with interviews and articles from publications such as France Bleu, Forbes France and anglophone titles Yahoo.com, Connexion which then started to be shared with its own smaller wave of buzz. 

Snuffling into the damp roots of an old Oak tree little did Pupuce know his truffle treasure would cause such a frenzy of excitement. It will be interesting to see where this use of NFT can go next. StoriesOut is working with more and more NFT innovators, so stay tuned! 

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