All Those Celebrities Pushing Crypto Are Not So Vocal Now

In the latest commercial on the virtual currency exchange Crypto.com, titled “Brewery is a Process”, star basketball player Joel Embed passes through Philadelphia while Bill Self, his former college coach, describes it.

Mr. Self says in the ad, which launched on May 6th. “We move on, until our path becomes what they want them to be.”

What the ad doesn’t say: The crypto market is in the middle of a meltdown. Buyers beware.

Enthusiasm for crypto from Hollywood celebrities and top athletes has reached a fever pitch in recent years. On social media, during interviews and even in music videos, they portrayed the virtual currency as a world with its own hip culture and philosophy – more involved than traditional finance and the opportunity to make a lot of money.

The Super Bowl has been nicknamed the “Crypto Bowl” this year because of the large number of ads – valued at $ 7 million for 30 seconds – featuring the industry, many of which shone with boldface names.

But after investors saw hundreds of billions of dollars in sales disappear this month, those popular boosters now face sharp criticism that they helped weak fans invest in crypto without emphasizing the risks. Unlike clothing or snacks or many other products hacked by celebrities, the crypto market is volatile and full of scams.

“This is real money that people are investing in,” said Giovanni Compiani, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Chicago, whose research shows that small, low-income investors are more optimistic about the way crypto is used. “Those who promote it should be more aware of the potential downsides.”

So far, Crypto’s celebrity boosters have been largely silent about whether they have any other ideas about their promotion.

Crypto.com refused to make Mr. Embiid available to discuss its partnership with the company. Matt Damon, who compared the advent of virtual money to the development of aviation and spaceflight in a critically panned but widely viewed Crypto.com ad last year, did not respond to requests for weighing. There has also been no response from basketball star LeBron James, who was featured in the company’s Super Bowl commercial this year.

Reese Witherspoon, an Oscar winner who announced online in December that “crypto is here to stay,” did not respond to a request for comment. Gwyneth Paltrow, another Oscar winner who named herself Bitcoin late last year.

Paris Hilton, who has about 17 million Followers on Twitter who are watching her on it Lap Dogs Crypto and Ether, Did not respond to a request for comment. Neither Mila Kunis, Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady, many other famous crypto pushers (although the profiles of Mr. Brady and Mr. Rogers on Twitter still show laser eyes, a popular symbol of the Bitcoin boom). A representative of Naomi Osaka, the tennis star who became ambassador for the crypto exchange FTX this year, wrote in an email that “she is unfortunately abroad and not available.”

In FTX’s Super Bowl commercial, comedian Larry David denigrated important discoveries such as wheels and light bulbs before rejecting crypto. The ad blinked and urged viewers: “Don’t be like Larry.”

Jeff Schaefer, director of that Super Bowl spot, said in an email that he and Mr. David did not comment on the market’s decline.

“Unfortunately I don’t think we have anything to add because we have no idea how cryptocurrency works (even after it has been explained to us repeatedly), it does not own it and does not follow its market,” he said. “We just went out to make a funny commercial!”

Crypto’s volatility underscores the basic misconception of celebrity marketing: celebrity endorsements may be memorable – the legend of actor John Houseman’s Madison Avenue for the Smith Barney investment firm decades ago – but not the natural way forward.

“This is what they do – they’re celebrities, they’ve been offered money to promote something they promise,” said Beth Egan, an associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University.

But it was not without risks, Ms. Said Egan. Supporters are to be commended if the crypto industry continues to boom – or if it returns to its high flying position. But if the recession continues, their reputation could be damaged.

“If I were Matt Damon or Reese Witherspoon, I would question my willingness to participate in this kind of competition,” she said.

In March, Crypto.com spent an average of $ 109,000 a day on digital advertising, according to estimates from advertising analytics platform Pathmatics. It dropped to 24,669 a day in May.

Expenses at FTX, one of the most aggressive crypto companies using celebrity promoters, dropped from $ 26,400 per day in March to $ 14,700 this month, according to Pathmatics.

“We’ve created this arms race,” said Brett Harrison, president of the FTX’s U.S. Arms., In an interview with The New York Times before the Super Bowl in February, he spoke about the use of celebrity supporters. Famous FTX Brand Ambassadors Mr. David, Mr. Brady and his supermodel wife, Giselle Bundchen, golfer Alben Valenzuela, footballer Aaron Jones, basketball player Stephen Curry and baseball player Shohi Ohtani.

“We’ve planted our flag there and we have such a large presence that racing doesn’t necessarily have to be our top priority to capture all the other properties and athletes and celebrities,” he said.

But the company, which will “probably spend a considerable amount more” on marketing, is now focusing on reaching different demographics and pursuing more low-key strategies, such as digital campaigns and Google ads, he said.

“We’re thinking of doing things a little bit differently than we were in the past,” he said.

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