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Boomtown taps into NFT ‘feeding frenzy’ to raise awareness, funding for prevention of human trafficking

South African advertising and marketing communication group, Boomtown, has tapped into the current NFT1 ‘feeding frenzy’ to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and funds for A21, a global organisation working towards the end of human trafficking and slavery.

Under the guidance of the agency’s Creative Head Meagan Viljoen, a team comprising Jamie Moss, Mike Coetzer, Jesse Sharkie, Sukesh Moodaley, Caitlin Morgan, Nande Gubevu, Jean du Toit and Asiphumeze Nkula created a campaign that has gone live on Ethereum’s Rarible2 as a collection called The Unownable Series.

Viljoen explained: “Much of what is available for purchase as an NFT on Rarible is grouped into collections – Bored Ape Yacht Club3, Ragnarok4, and The Creature World5 for example. And much of what is expressed in these collections are individual characters … and people.

“So, in buying the NFT, it could be said that you are purchasing a person online.

“Of course, it is really only an image of a person, but Boomtown saw this as an opportunity to send a hard-hitting message. We believed the world’s current fascination with the blockchain, the technology that enables the NFTs phenomenon, could help us break human trafficking.”

Boomtown’s campaign comprises a limited edition NFT series of unique characters on Rarible. The brief write-up about the collection6 explains how many people are trafficked each year, how human trafficking can take place, what A21 is doing to combat this form of slavery and that the image is not for sale, but rather seeks a donation.

The campaign also includes a social media element to drive people to the Rarible site to view the images and donate. This incorporates a series of digital audio stories written to capture the harrowing moments that led to people being taken and trafficked to create the biggest impact possible.

To support The Unownable Series, donors will need to purchase Ethereum on Luno, upload it to their Metmask accounts and ‘make their bids’ on Rarible.

“By showing the characters in the collection as blindfolded and giving them a name7, they represent the harrowing truth of human trafficking,” said Viljoen. “That many women, men and children are unknowingly groomed online or in person through false relationships or work opportunities, and sold for less than the price of an NFT.

“We hope that, by its presence on Rarible and through the social media campaign supporting it, we’ll not only be able to raise funds for A21 but also warn those who visit the collection – out of curiosity or to donate – how traffickers operate, and therefore be on their guard.”

“Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerable people for their bodies and labour. Through force, fraud, and coercion, people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will – right now in the 21st century,” added A21’s South Africa Prevention & Awareness Coordinator, Cornel Viljoen.

“But slavery is more stoppable than ever before. And that’s why we’re here, rallying around the world and doing the work together.

‘While it has its origins in South Africa, this campaign will be run globally by sharing social media posts.”

The Unownable Series will be up for ‘bid’ for an extended period following which artists worldwide will be approached to make their contribution by creating their own Unownable characters. The transaction of these pieces of art will not be a purchase but a donation to A21 to help end the collection of human lives.


  1. NFT stands for non-fungible token. Physical money and other cryptocurrencies are “fungible”, meaning that they can be traded or exchanged for one another. They’re also equal in value. One bitcoin is always equal to another bitcoin, and one dollar is always worth another dollar. A digital piece of art is non-fungible because there is only one of a kind – like an original painting. These pieces are either sold or auctioned online, the buyer receiving certificate/token to say that they are the official owner of the piece and a jpeg of the artwork.
  2. Rarible is an Ethereum-based platform that facilitates the creation, sale, and purchase of ownership rights to digital works of art via non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are one-of-a-kind crypto assets that are used to represent unique items such as collectibles and works of art.
  3. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 unique Bored Ape NFTs— unique digital collectibles living on the Ethereum blockchain. Your Bored Ape doubles as your Yacht Club membership card, and grants access to members-only benefits, the first of which is access to The Bathroom, a collaborative graffiti board. Future areas and perks can be unlocked by the community through roadmap activation.
  4. Ragnarök is a true metaverse. The Ronin Zero NFTs allow purchasers to enter the metaverse as an in-game character. Here they can slay monsters, loot objects and craft NFTs as well as trade, earn, and own real estate.
  5. The Creature World is a nearby magical dimension of love, divine intervention, and possibility. 10,000 unique Creatures are here to guide you on this journey. Follow their lead. Created with love by NYC-based artist Danny Cole.
  6. Explanation of collection: Traffickers can own a human life for less than this NFT. And in South African alone, over 150 000 people per year are being sold for either labour or sexual exploitation. Sisters, sons and daughters are unknowingly being groomed or sold online into lives of unimaginable suffering in a transaction as simple as this and we are actively working on the ground to ensure that ownership never applies to human beings. The transaction of these pieces will not be a purchase but rather a donation to A21 to help fight against human trafficking.
  7. Example of image text: When Firaj swiped right, he had no idea someone was waiting for somebody just like him. Dating in the digital age isn’t easy, but he had finally found a match. She was quick to reply, and they had good chemistry over the phone. So, it was no surprise when she invited him out for a night on the town. When he got to her place to pick her up, she invited him in and asked him to wait a few minutes. She didn’t return, but three men did, with weapons. Fear churned in the pit of his stomach as his head hit the wall. His pockets were emptied, and his hands were tied. He told them to take what they wanted, but what they wanted was him. Because he was now a slave in a life that belonged to someone else. A21 can rescue him from this reality with your help. Together we can put a stop to human trafficking and ensure that Firaj is Unownable. The transaction of this piece of art will not be a purchase but a donation to A21.