Does Bitcoin Marketing Work on Sports Fans?

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FTX, Crypto.com and other Bitcoin brands are spending big on sports marketing. But it's uncertain such deals will boost customer acquisition.​

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Sports fans can't follow a bat, ball, or puck these days without coming across a Bitcoin brand. Crypto companies have flooded into sports marketing, and none more aggressively than FTX, the sophisticated exchange led by bombastic 29-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried. In April, FTX shelled out $135 million to plaster its name on the Miami Heat NBA arena for the next 19 years—even though the company is just two years old. The spend is not an issue; Bankman-Fried told me in an interview at the Ethereal Virtual Summit in May, "Without going into the details, it's been a pretty good year for us... frankly, we don't need to rely on the other 18 years to have the funds for this." (Mic drop.) Later in April, Blockfolio, the price index app FTX bought last August for $150 million, signed an endorsement deal with top NFL draft pick Trevor Lawrence. This month, Blockfolio paid YouTuber-turned-boxer Logan Paul to promote the app with a QR code on his t-shirt before his June 6 fight against Floyd Mayweather (who shilled EthereumMax). FTX also signed a 10-year, $210 million deal to sponsor esports team TSM and change its name to TSM FTX, and it signed a hard-to-get deal with Major League Baseball that will include FTX patches on every MLB umpire's uniform.
"Sam is going to own or sponsor every company by the next halving," a Twitter user joked this week.

It's not just FTX. Crypto.com sponsored the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and the newly formed F1 racing team Aston Martin Cognizant; eToro sponsored several Premier League soccer teams; Tezos is on the front of McLaren F1 cars. At first blush, sports marketing makes perfect sense for Bitcoin companies. The Venn diagram between sports fans and Bitcoin believers must have big overlap—you'd assume. But is there evidence that spending to align with a sports team or league actually boosts customer acquisition for crypto companies?

"We are setting up these pillars in the sports community, and we’ll continue to do that, to go where the people are," FTX COO Sina Nader told me in April in an interview about the Trevor Lawrence deal. "Once you start to see names like Trevor Lawrence, and prominent people in entertainment, the taboo is officially shattered. People are realizing that crypto is a real thing." The bet FTX is making: Sports fans who see FTX branding on a field or in an arena will head home and try it out. But it's hard to imagine Miami Heat fans seeing that acronym on their stadium, looking it up, and becoming FTX users. Any sports fans already interested in Bitcoin are likelier to use Coinbase, which enjoys a perch as the closest thing to a household name in crypto, without doing any sports marketing.​
Only anecdotally.
 
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