#202: A Pudgy Penguins Welcome
PLUS: 💎 Some gems about the Pudgy Penguins toy launch strategy
The Pudgy Penguins collection and physical toy launch have been the talk of town last week, and the efforts have been applauded and recognized by the industry.
We’ve been hungry for a feel-good story for weeks (maybe months) considering the ongoing bear market, regulatory headwinds, and recent memecoin frenzy which has slowed down (PEPE is still at a $660 million market cap by the way 🤯).
TLDR of Pudgy Penguin Toys that got the whole space talking:
With the collective effort of the Pudgy Penguin community and the broader web3 and NFT community, several of these toys were trending in the Toys and New Release category. Currently, some of the toys are #1 New Release in Action Figures and #1 New Release in Toddler Toy Figure Playsets categories respectively.
The team shared that there were over $500k in toy sales in the first two days of launch.
Each of the toys comes with an adoption certificate in and a QR code, encouraging new penguin parents to enter Pudgy World (anyone can sign up for free). Owners receive a code for trait boxes and can redeem them for Polygon NFTs in the form of collectible traits.
Talk about onboarding everyday people into web3! The Pudgy Penguins team is accomplishing what few have done successfully so far.
What else stuck out to me about the toy launch?
The underappreciated nuggets of the toy launch
The retail partnership rollout
The launch focused on Amazon as the primary launch partner along with a select number of specialty toy stores. The rollout will expand to other retailers next month, including Walmart. Pudgy Penguin toys are just getting started.
Pudgy Penguins will be exhibiting at the annual Licensing Expo next month
This expo is the holy grail of licensing partnerships, the place to be for brand partnerships. The team understands this and plans to leave the event with signed contracts.
Pudgy Penguins isn’t coming to the expo empty-handed either, figuratively and literally. With the launch preceding the expo, the team can now cite stats on their NFT collection and community, but also toy sales. Potential licensing partners may scoff or scratch their heads in confusion at the NFT collection, but will raise their eyebrows at the physical sales numbers and social following.
This not Luca Netz’s (CEO of Pudgy Penguins) first rodeo in the ecomm space
It’s his 100th. Luca has 9 figures of toy sales experience from his previous life, and this article provides a nice glimpse into what he was up to prior to Pudgy Penguins.
The Pudgy Penguins IG account
One of the observations I had during toy launch campaign was that one of the most valuable assets, the Instagram account, wasn’t activated. When there’s a new product release, it’s typical to do a multi-channel marketing push across all channels for a big splash.
However this wasn’t the case for the toy launch.
The IG account has 539k followers, and the only way to find out about the new toys was from the ‘View Shop’ button nestled in between all the cute, funny, and inspirational content from the account.
Luca shared more insight about this decision and confirmed that this was intentional. It’s hard to run clean split tests, and going from 0 to 1 provides the best environment for truly understanding the impact of specific audience segments and/or channels.
Pudgy Penguins focused on their community and Twitter as their launch channels. As a result, the team is able to measure the sales impact from the web3 and NFT community.
After that point, it’s easier to understand sales volume attributed to the amazon ranking algorithm, and then each of the other channels (eg: Instagram) as they are activated.
In a Twitter Spaces, Luca estimated that ~85-90% of the current sales are attributed to web3-centric consumers. Over time, those numbers will shift towards a more diverse consumer base as other channels, distribution partners, and marketing spend turns on (they’ve spent $0 on marketing so far!).
It’s rare to see the web3 ecosystem come together to support the accomplishments of a single company, especially on Twitter. The newsfeed is often filled with the noise of strong opinions, engagement farming, and noise.
However, Pudgy Penguins toys launch got prominent names in the space, not just the holder community, to voice their support and walk the talk by purchasing the physical toys.
Whether you have a NFT from the Pudgy Penguins collections or not, this is a heartwarming moment amidst all the day-to-day craziness.
But this is not the reason I wanted to write about the Pudgy Penguins today. I want to talk about…
My Pudgy Penguins welcome experience
If you’ve been reading Web3 with TPan for some time, you’ll know that I’ve written about or mentioned Pudgy Penguins several times:
8: Luca Netz purchasing the Pudgy Penguins IP and collection
34: The 3C Framework
87: Pudgy Penguins announces their advisory board
91: Pudgy Penguins licensing efforts
98: The AX (Announcement Experience) framework
142: Pudgy Penguins’ GIF strategy
143: More Pudgy Penguins licensing updates
Well, that finallyyy changed a couple weeks ago.
Sure the engagement was nice, my most engaged tweet in a while! And you can do get that too for a cool $10k 😂
What struck me was the warm welcome from the community and the library of resources for a new community member like myself.
I’ve previously called out the difficulties of onboarding new members to communities with rich ecosystems, and Pudgy Penguins is no exception to that challenge. How do you welcome them warmly and help them onboard while accepting the reality that they won’t share the same experiences and backstory that older community members have bonded over?
Pudgy Penguins did several things that I thought were helpful, some which I personally hadn’t seen before.
What did they do that stuck out to me?
Gave a warm welcome to my tweet
This is table stakes for any project or community-centric brand. Luca even replied to my tweet announcing that I’ve joined ‘The Huddle’. The spotlight effect made me feel special, and this happens to newcomers of many web3 pfp communities.
Amplified the welcome through an affiliated account
Pudgy Media, the content arm of Pudgy Penguins, tweets a weekly thread welcoming new Pudgy Penguin holders.
I was tagged in the thread, and continued to receive more Huddle love. What caught my eye was the last tweet in the thread, the CTA (call-to-action).
I didn’t notice the whole thread at first, but after enough notification pings (I was tagged in the thread) I read the whole thread and realized the brilliance of what was going on. I scrolled to the bottom and checked out the Workbench (Pudgy Penguins’ version of a roadmap).
When I highlighted Pudgy Penguins’ GIF strategy back in November, there were 1,000 GIFs with half a billion views.
There are now 2,800 GIFs with 3.3 billion views. WOW.
GIFs aren’t only fun (and in this case, cute), but they also provide a new way to interact and reply online. I can reply on social channels with a GIF instead of typing something out.
For example, my buddy Crier keeps playfully asking me when I’m changing my Cool Cats pfp to a Penguin (it’s tempting 😰) whenever I tweet about them.
By using these GIFs, I grow fonder with the brand and naturally gravitate towards using Penguin GIFs where appropriate. This is a massive operation and takes months to scale. However, Pudgy Penguins' bet on GIFs is paying dividends. Holders can even submit GIF requests featuring their penguin!
Other companies and tools are working to bring this strategy to more collections:
Stickies is creating a GIF platform that support different collections like Bored Apes, Doodles, Moonbirds, and Cool Cats, with more coming soon
Sappy Seals’ Meme Machine creates customized memes. These aren’t GIFs, but they hit hard and allow for community contributions as well.
Discord Bot Commands
The Pudgy Penguins Discord has a Pengu Bot that has various commands for informational and entertainment purposes. Whenever a new member joins or asks for more info, a fellow Pengu types in ‘!new’.
This bot command doesn’t make up for all the lore and memories that OG holders may have, but it brings new folks up to speed with where the community is today.
Though I already knew the basics about the community, I found this to be helpful resource and cover the bases on some details I wasn’t aware of.
For example, the Community Calendar provides a great overview of all the IRL and online events happening in the upcoming weeks.
Inner Igloo Meetings
The team hosts a bi-weekly Inner Igloo holders-only Discord calls.
The team gathers community feedback and shares details on various team efforts. The key here is the two-way street of trust, allowing privileged info to be shared. Loose lips sink ships, or in this case loose beaks sink icebergs 🐧.
Fortunately, no material leaks have happened, allowing this special relationship and bond between team and community to thrive.
This effort instantly brings a sense of exclusivity to new community members. The ‘one of us’ feeling is real and it’s strong.
The order of operations during the web3 and NFT frenzy has been to win wallets first, and then win hearts. However, the hype has died down, and we’re seeing a new category of web3 consumer brands emerge.
With the Pudgy Penguins, they’re winning hearts and then winning wallets.
Whether or not you’re operating in web3, Pudgy Penguins is creating a masterclass on community building, social growth, licensing and merchandising, and creating bridges from web2 to web3.
I encourage you to lean in and see what they’re doing.
See you Thursday!