Turns out it might not be such a good idea for famous millionaires to promote risky, unregulated virtual assets.
In recent years – and even in early 2022 – the crypto industry was enjoying blue skies and sunshine. The fair weather prompted a handful of celebrities to sign deals with major crypto companies and to promote the virtual, decentralized currency on TV and through social media. Now that the so-called “crypto winter” has taken hold and untold millions of dollars in investments have been erased, many of those celebrity endorsements look comically naive – even, in some cases, dangerously irresponsible.
Before we take a look at five now-notorious celebrity crypto endorsements, we should clarify: though the valuations of leading virtual tokens and crypto companies have taken a serious financial hit in recent months, they’ve by no means disappeared. Many HODLers will argue that the current bear market is a natural, even healthy development, and that it’s always darkest before the dawn. If they’re proven correct, and the crypto market manages to bounce back to early 2022 levels, we’d probably be in for a slew of “we told you so” ads, likely starring celebrities, from the likes of Crypto.com and FTX. Bearing that in mind, here are five celebrity crypto endorsements that, as of late summer 2022, don’t look so great:
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5. FTX: ‘Don’t miss out on crypto,’ starring Larry David
Like the Crypto.com ad with Matt Damon, this ad also debuted during the 2022 Super Bowl and has a core message that implies that crypto is one of humanity’s great achievements. But whereas the Crypto.com ad unfolded with a straight face (it ends with The Martian actor looking out a window toward Mars, a symbol of the unexplored and unconquered), the FTX ad is told with humor.
The star of the ad, Larry David – whom most people know from his HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm – is a time-traveling and woefully unprophetic naysayer who shoots down every revolutionary idea that’s presented to him, from the wheel to the toilet and coffee. After hearing a pitch for buying crypto through FTX, he responds with: “Ehhh, I don’t think so. And I’m never wrong about this stuff. Never.”
Time will tell whether or not David’s character in the ad actually made the right call in that case.
2. Gwenyth Paltrow’s Abra tweet and Cash App partnership
Paltrow is known for being a bit more ‘out there’ with the products and services that she’s willing to publicly endorse, largely via her company Goop, but that hasn’t completely sheltered her from scorn in the aftermath of her involvement with certain crypto ventures. Back in late 2018, she tweeted a link to a Q&A with Bill Barhydt – founder and chief executive of the crypto exchange platform Abra – that had been published on the Goop website; she received some backlash for failing to disclose at the time that she’s an advisor to Abra. She also partnered with Cash App in late 2021, tweeting that she was “giving out $500k worth of Bitcoin for the holidays” and plugging the company’s efforts to “[make] it easy to gift Bitcoin.” <!-- inArticleBlock --> 3. Reese Witherspoon’s tweets and World of Women partnership
Witherspoon took to Twitter in January 2022 to hype up crypto and NFTs. “Crypto is here to stay,” she wrote. “I’m committed to supporting creators who have pioneered the NFT space, and encouraging more women to be a part of the conversation.” Advocating for more equal representation in the web3 space is laudable – promoting crypto and NFTs without highlighting their detrimental environmental impacts and the financial risks associated with buying them, not so much. In February, her company Hello Sunshine entered into a partnership with NFT company World of Women, which saw its market cap shoot upwards as a result of the partnership; the company’s market cap peaked in late March and has been generally trending downwards since then, according to data from NFT Price Floor.
2. FTX: ‘Tom Brady is in. Are you?’ starring Tom Brady and Giselle Bündchen
Husband-and-wife duo Tom Brady and Giselle Bündchen appeared in this FTX ad together in September 2021, just around two months after the two had signed a partnership deal with the crypto exchange company. The ad opens with Bündchen selling her husband on the idea of buying crypto on FTX (though we can’t hear what she’s saying). She then asks him: “What do you think? Are you in?” He is.
The two then begin to spread the word far and wide, calling up far-flung acquaintances – all of whom, notably, appear to be working-class people – and asking them if they’re willing to jump on the FTX bandwagon. They all are. One of them even quits his job on the spot.
It may have been wise for FTX to include a disclaimer during that particular scene; something like: “FTX does not actually recommend quitting one’s day job.”
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1. Crypto.com: ‘Fortune favors the brave,’ starring Matt Damon
This ad, which aired during this year’s Super Bowl, has in some respects become the poster child for irresponsible celebrity crypto endorsements. Even pre-”crypto winter,” the TV spot’s tone was arguably over the top: Matt Damon walks through museum-like corridors, pontificating on all the “almosts” throughout history — “those who almost adventured, who almost achieved, but ultimately for them it proved to be too much.”
The core implication of the ad seems to be that investing in crypto is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor, on par with setting sail for the New World, climbing Everest, leaning in for a first kiss, or boarding a space-bound rocket. It basically stops just short of calling anyone who’s not investing in crypto a coward. Not a good look at all, for either Crypto.com or Matt Damon.
Matt Parker and Trey Stone recently eviscerated the Crypto.com ad. In the latest South Park movie, Matt Damon isn’t shilling crypto, he’s shilling ... well, just watch it and find out.
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