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Good Shill Hunting: Why Matt Damon's Crypto.com Ad Is Trending

The commercial for the crypto exchange has been airing since late October. Some people are just now noticing.

4 min read

In brief

  • In a commercial, actor Matt Damon says, "Fortune favors the brave."
  • He's talking about buying cryptocurrency.

Those highly attuned to the crypto space have been seeing Matt Damon's face on Crypto.com ads since late October, when the Oscar-nominated actor first appeared as the pitchman for the spot and derivatives exchange. 

In the ad, Damon tells viewers that "fortune favors the brave" while comparing crypto investors to arctic explorers, the Wright brothers, and astronauts. Several months on, that message is starting to resonate with the larger ad-viewing public, as Matt Damon broke into Twitter's trending topics today.

Though not entirely in a good way. 

Adam Johnson, host of the Citations Needed podcast, wrote: "Saddest thing about Matt Damon's macho-baiting crypto pitch where the viewer must ACT NOW or he's a weak pussy is that this is a top 3 classic pitch all financial schemes have used to goad men into forking over their paltry savings. Nothing has changed in 150 years."

The Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr said, "There isn’t enough yuck in the world to describe Matt Damon advertising a Ponzi scheme."

And anti-crypto programmer Stephen Diehl wrote, "I just can't get over the unfiltered nihilism that suggests that investing in dog coins is like the moon landing."

(Crypto.com declined to comment about the backlash.)

The renewed interest in the ad relates to a targeted advertising push by Crypto.com, which has been going head to head with rival exchange FTX to compete for sports fans. Last evening's Sunday Night Football matchup between division rivals Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers provided many with their first glimpse of the commercial; the telecast is consistently one of the top-rated shows on television, alongside other football telecasts.

Crypto.com and FTX have already announced they will air ads during this year's Super Bowl on February 13. Companies are shelling out up to $6.5 million for 30 seconds of air time. By contrast, a typical 30-second spot for a regular season game would go for between $500,000 and $1 million.

Advertising to sports fans has several advantages in addition to the numbers above, according to sports marketing professor and researcher Kirk Wakefield. First, there's evidence that sports fans are more receptive to ads. A YouGov poll found that they are more likely to enjoy watching ads with favorite celebrities and use advertising in their calculus of what products to buy. Moreover, that ad money can go even further when advertisers act as team sponsors.

Perhaps even more important, U.S. sports fans also like to gamble more than average Americans; they're more supportive of the legalization of online gambling and use betting as a way of connecting with their sport. Crypto's profile as a high-risk investment works to its advantage with such an audience. 

Crypto.com knows this. In November, the Singapore-based company helmed by Poland-born CEO Kris Marszalek. spent $700 million to purchase the naming rights to the home of the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, the most storied franchise in the NBA. It has a $100 million sponsorship deal with Formula 1 racing, a $175 deal with UFC, and individual deals with the Philadelphia 76ers, French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.

FTX is also spending big—it bought the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena and has its own deals with the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards, while U.S.-based Coinbase last year became the official cryptocurrency partner of the NBA and WNBA.

Damon's affiliation with Crypto.com—and the exchange's embrace of sports fandom—appears to be working. Data site CoinMarketCap ranks it ahead of FTX and a hair behind Coinbase for spot trading volume over the last 24 hours—though it ranks behind the former for derivatives volume.

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