By Cedric Hervet, co-founder, Creative Director
I have been collaborating on projects as an Artistic Director and Creative Director for almost 30 years. My approach has always been to create homogeneous universes that transport audiences and make them dream. But I also systematically search for that extra touch: the thing that allows a project to leave its mark and remain timeless like a classic. With projects such as Daft Punk and Logorama (Best Short Film, Animated Academy Oscar winner, 2010), I’ve had the joy of contributing first-hand to these types of immersive universes with a long-lasting impact. This is what I am looking for today in my new collaborations.
So I was immediately drawn to working on The Smurfs’ Society: it was an opportunity to write a new page in an iconic, authentic, and universal story; to expand on the Smurfs’ universe and take it to a new dimension while still respecting the legend.
I grew up with the Smurfs, reading the comics and collecting all the figurines. This is where I got my first real taste for collecting things, a passion that has continued into adulthood with collectibles such as sneakers, mini-motorbikes, and more.
Decades after my childhood, the Smurfs is still one of the strongest brands in the world. With the Smurfs, simplicity induces an obviousness that speaks to all of us. The positive vibes, the collective values, and the optimism appeal to all cultures whether you’re looking at the Smurfs through the eyes of a child or with adult nostalgia.
As a team, we immediately understood the alignment of this universe with the values at the heart of Web3: the strength of the community, the protection of independence against the Gargamels of centralization, but also the opportunity to unify energies for a good cause and to combine personal and collective interests.
The main challenge from a brand positioning perspective was to succeed in reinventing and expanding the Smurfs’ universe to give it a new resonance in today’s context while respecting a rich, 65-year-old history of comics, films, and video games that generations have grown up with.
But the biggest challenge was transporting the Smurfs into the world of Web3 and blockchain, making them attractive to a new audience without renouncing traditional fans. That’s because Web3 communities are generally eager for original and exclusive experiences, far from the mass-marketed products which the Smurfs brand usually brings to mind. We felt the transition into this new dimension for the brand needed to be built on three main pillars:
Technology | By choosing to create PFPs in full 3D procedural, with an ambition for quality and diversity rarely achieved for an NFT project.
Culture | By integrating over a hundred new characters into the Smurfs’ universe. We created new professions in line with the world around us, and in particular the context of new technologies, but also many nods to cultural references, notably to pop culture.
Art | By collaborating with well-known artists and creators. We are partnering with renowned creators from contemporary art, street art, and comics (Fafi, Philippe Druillet, Orlinski, André, etc.), in order to bring bold and creative artistic touches to this collection.
While we had these three pillars in mind, looking at the brief but complex history of the NFT market we knew that "traditional" brands and IPs (referred to as Web2) often struggle to convince and establish themselves in a decentralized world hungry for new references. Many NFT franchise launches have been cataloged as insipid cash grabs and immediately dismissed by the community.
To address this risk, we’re demonstrating that we understand, belong to, and bring value to the world of Web3 by offering such an original experience. Our decision to build a gamified pre-mint experience instead of traditional whitelist/allowlist processes convinced over 85,000 wallet users to connect. One of our goals with the project is to really transform these users into a diverse and vibrant community, leveraging the possibilities of Web3 to build strong networks with other ecosystems. Since launching, we have organized over 100 partnerships with established Web3 communities. Finally, our sequential sale demonstrates our dedication to moving forward hand in hand with our community in three major stages:
Investor price discovery phase
Discounted allow list activation for players in the preliminary phase
Prestigious artistic collaborations phase
One of the things I have cultivated over my career is a particular taste for mystery and suspenseful stories. Another of my cherished childhood memories was the excitement of opening little packages you bought at supermarkets in which you'd find a random toy. The suspense of wondering if you’d finally found that last figurine to complete your collection was incredible.
Learning how to keep your audience engaged by maintaining a well-balanced mystery is one of the keys to a successful project. Drip-feeding the elements of a well-planned scheme is one of the most effective ways to develop interest and captivate attention.
It is in this spirit that The Smurfs' Society has gradually unveiled its grand project:
An innovative game that leaves the audience asking “What happens next?”
A flamboyant collection, slowly ‘leaked’ through sneak peeks and work-in-progress images.
Utility announcements that hint at bigger things to come.
‘Secret’ collaborations with exceptional artists and partners that are slowly revealed throughout the project.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Smurf’s Society has hinted at bigger plans for the project that are sure to excite collectors, Web3 enthusiasts, and die-hard Smurfs’ fans alike.
Lastly, it’s important to reflect on something that the Smurfs have embodied throughout their 65-year history: this is a team effort and it takes a village to build something this ambitious. Throughout my career, I’ve had the immense fortune of working with some of the most talented minds, like Daft Punk and Logorama, and this project is no exception. Before the Smurfs’ Society, I had little experience in Web3 and NFTs but when you are surrounded by exceptional talent and passionate creators, you can’t help but get immersed in the movement.
Like the Smurfs in their village, everyone on this team brings something to the project. But unlike traditional projects, Web3 creates a whole new potential for collaboration, extending the concept of a team beyond our founders, developers, and artists. It includes the community that supports us and builds with us, not just immersing them in the story, but making them a part of the creative journey. It has been an honor working alongside everyone who has contributed.
The Smurfs’ Society presented me with the ideal project to leave a mark on the world with something both timeless and innovative. It’s been an incredible opportunity to work with such an established icon and help remind audiences that traditional brands can be original and relevant in this fast-changing world. But this project has also touched a deep vein of nostalgia, not just because of the Smurfs’ themselves, but by tapping into that childhood joy of collecting something, of gamification, of suspense and mystery that always leave us wanting more, and finally a deep sense of belonging to a community.
Our journey is just getting started; I’m excited about taking the Smurfs to even farther dimensions with you. Stay tuned…