In the latest commercial from virtual currency exchange Crypto.com, titled “Brave is a Process,” star basketball player Joel Embiid walks through Philadelphia while his former college coach Bill Self provides narration.
“Even if our path doesn’t make sense for others, we keep going,” Mr Self said in the ad, which debuted on May 6. “We keep going until our path is the path they want.” d took.
What the ad doesn’t say: The crypto market is in a meltdown. Buyers beware.
Over the past year, the enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies has reached a fever pitch among Hollywood celebrities and top athletes. On social media, in interviews, and even in music videos, they portray virtual currencies as a world with its own hipster culture and philosophy – a world that is more inclusive than traditional finance, and a chance to make a lot of money .
This year’s Super Bowl has been nicknamed the “Crypto Bowl” because so many commercials — costing as much as $7 million for 30 seconds — featured the industry, some of them in bold.
But after investors watched hundreds of billions of dollars disappear in a sell-off this month, the prominent movers now face mounting criticism that they helped push weak fans to invest in cryptocurrencies without emphasizing the risks. Unlike clothes, snacks, or many other products touted by celebrities, the cryptocurrency market is volatile and riddled with scams.
“It’s real money that people are investing in,” said Giovanni Compiani, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Chicago, whose research found that young, low-income investors tend to be more interested in cryptocurrency’s trajectory overly optimistic. “Those promoting it should be more forthcoming about potential downsides.”
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So far, crypto celebrity boosters have been largely silent on whether they have any second thoughts about their promotions.
Crypto.com declined to allow Mr. Embiid to discuss his partnership with the company. Matt Damon, who compared the emergence of virtual currencies to the development of aviation and aerospace in a widely criticized but well-known ad on Crypto.com last year, did not respond to a request for a trade-off. Neither did basketball star LeBron James, who appeared in the company’s Super Bowl ad this year.
Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, who announced online in December that “crypto is here to stay” did not respond to a request for comment. Neither is another Oscar winner, Gwyneth Paltrow, who lent her name to a bitcoin giveaway late last year.
Paris Hilton with nearly 17 million Followers on Twitter who watched her coo Ring Dog Cryptocurrency and Ethereum, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither do several other prominent crypto promoters, such as Mila Kunis, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady (though Mr. Brady and Mr. Rodgers’ Twitter profiles are still featured) laser eye, a popular symbol of Bitcoin bullishness).Tennis star Naomi Osaka’s spokesperson Cryptocurrency Exchange FTX “Unfortunately, she is overseas and not available,” she wrote in an email this year.
In FTX’s Super Bowl ad, comedian Larry David downplayed important inventions like the wheel and light bulb before rejecting encryption. The ad winked and urged viewers: “Don’t be like Larry.”
Jeff Schaeffer, the head of the Super Bowl scene, said in an email that he and Mr. David had not commented on the market crash.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we have anything to add because we don’t know how cryptocurrencies work (even after being repeatedly explained to us), don’t own it and don’t follow the market for it,” he said. “ We just started making a fun ad!”
Crypto’s instability highlights a fundamental fallacy of celebrity marketing: Celebrity endorsements can be memorable — actor John Houseman was a Madison Avenue legend in his decades-old ad for Smith Barney Investments — but it doesn’t Means the product being marketed is worth trying on its own.
“That’s what they do — they’re celebrities, and they get paid to promote something promising,” said Beth Egan, an associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University.
Expand your cryptocurrency vocabulary
But it’s not without risk, Ms Egan said. If the crypto industry had been thriving — or if it had returned to a thriving state — endorsers might be applauded. But if the downturn persists, their reputations could suffer.
“If I were Matt Damon or Reese Witherspoon, I would question my willingness to take on this kind of gig,” she said.
In March, Crypto.com spent an average of $109,000 a day on digital ads, according to estimates from ad analytics platform Pathmatics. In May, that figure had dropped to $24,669 a day.
According to Pathmatics, FTX, one of the most active crypto companies using celebrity salespeople, saw its payout slip from $26,400 a day in March to $14,700 a day this month.
“We kind of created this arms race,” said Brett Harrison, president of FTX Americas., Talked about the use of celebrity endorsers in an interview with The New York Times ahead of the Super Bowl in February. Notable FTX brand ambassadors include Mr. David, Mr. Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele Bündchen, golfer Albane Valenzuela, football player Aaron Jones, basketball player Stephen Curry and baseball player Shohei Ohtani.
“We’ve got the flag there and we’re so influential that fighting over all the remaining properties and athletes and celebrities isn’t necessarily our priority,” he said.
But he said the company is likely to “probably spend more on marketing” and is now focusing on reaching out to different demographics and employing more low-key tactics, such as digital campaigns and Google Ads.
“We’re thinking about doing something different from the past,” he said.