Crypto.com CMO on How Company Went from App to Global Brand
Marketing focus shifts to storytelling, education after building brand awareness through partnerships in 2021
Actor Matt Damon stars in Crypto.com’s TV spot
- Crypto.com looks to continue marketing push after buying naming rights to the Staples Center in Los Angeles and partnering with Formula 1, UFC and Matt Damon
- Partnerships that bring brand to mainstream audience show “there’s an industry leader in Crypto.com who’s taking [the space] forward,” CMO Steven Kalifowitz said
Anyone who types in Crypto.com on their search bar will see Matt Damon’s face appear as the webpage loads.
“Fortune Favours the Brave,” the site displays in bold font.
Steven Kalifowitz, the chief marketing officer of Crypto.com, told Blockworks in an interview that the tagline captures the mentality of the company and the industry more broadly.
The company’s one-minute television spot starring Damon, which began airing in October, aimed to recognize the people who have worked in the industry for years and invite others not yet involved in crypto to enter the space, he added.
Founded in 2016, the Singapore-based company allows users to buy and sell more than 200 cryptocurrencies. It also offers users the ability to earn rewards by depositing crypto or using its Visa card.
In addition to the Damon commercial, which is set to run for a few more months, Crypto.com bought the naming rights to the Staples Center in Los Angeles last month as part of a 20-year, $700 million deal. The venue — the official home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and the WNBA’s Sparks — will be known as Crypto.com Arena on Dec. 25.
“That’s probably the strongest statement that we’re not going anywhere and that we’re here to stay,” Kalifowitz said.
Ty Smith, founder and CEO of crypto marketing agency Coinbound, said that the deal to buy the naming rights to one of the country’s most iconic arenas will help support widespread adoption, noting that Crypto.com’s company name points directly to the industry.
“I think a ton of crypto brands as well as advertising entities have been on the fence with respect to how mainstream audiences will perceive crypto ads in the public light,” Smith said.
Mindy Kaling, an actress, comedian and screenwriter, was talking about the Lakers during an interview with Access Hollywood last month when the discussion shifted to the team’s upcoming arena name change.
“It does make me think that I need to understand crypto,” Kaling said during the interview. “…If this is going to be where the Lakers now live, I have to understand what crypto is.”
Though Kalifowitz said it’s hard to measure the exact impact of the company’s major marketing efforts, he noted it signals that Crypto.com is in the center of a discussion that has gone mainstream.
“Did people go and download the app?” he said about the Access Hollywood interview. “Did people go and read more about it? Yeah, of course.”
Growing the crypto.com brand
The ad featuring Damon and the deal to rename the L.A. sports arena capped a year in which Crypto.com aimed to introduce the company to a global audience, Kalifowitz said.
Kalifowitz joined Crypto.com in August 2020, at which time the company had between 3 million and 5 million users, the CMO said. Crypto.com reported reaching 10 million users in February, noting at the time that it expects to reach 100 million users by 2023. A company spokesperson declined to comment on its current number of users.
The crypto industry’s number of users doubled from about 100 million to 200 million between January and June of 2021, the CMO added.
“That was a trend line that we saw coming in the middle of last year,” Kalifowitz told Blockworks. “We committed to the strategy of really getting ourselves out there, partnering with the best brands that we can and finding the best ways to not just introduce our brand to people but to raise awareness for crypto as something that’s not going away.”
Though certain prospective partners were hesitant to work with a crypto company at the beginning of the year, that changed once they learned Crypto.com was a serious company focused on regulatory compliance, Kalifowitz explained.
Crypto.com became the first cryptocurrency sponsor of Formula 1 in a reported $100 million deal, the company announced in June. Mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced its partnership with Crypto.com a week later in a reported 10-year, $175 million partnership that put the firm’s branding on the athletes’ apparel and around the event venues.
Reaching what Kalifowitz called “Super Bowl-size” audiences through Formula 1 and UFC is even more important amid a fractured media landscape that has people watching content at different times.
“To be able to not just put our brand there, but put the word crypto there, gets everyone to talk about it,” he said. “Live sport is really the only thing that brings everyone together, and that water cooler effect is important.”
In addition to making deals with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team, the company partnered with the Philadelphia 76ers in September to put a logo patch on the players’ jerseys and the Crypto.com branding on and around the team’s court. The 76ers launched its first NFT through Crypto.com as part of the deal.
Ren Besnard, vice president of marketing at Unstoppable Domains, said he loved to see Crypto.com’s major marketing initiatives in 2021, adding that education is a huge component for new consumer technologies.
“Crypto marketers are going to step their game up,” Besnard said. “Now that Crypto.com has led the way in showing that large traditional media buys with crypto companies can help them cross into the mainstream, I expect others to follow suit.”
Other crypto firms also spent much of the year boosting brand awareness through large partnerships, most notably in the sports world.
Cryptocurrency exchange FTX finalized a deal earlier this year for the naming rights of the Miami Heat’s arena and became the official cryptocurrency exchange brand of Major League Baseball. The company has also signed on star athletes as brand ambassadors, including Tom Brady, Stephen Curry and Shohei Ohtani.
FTX on Tuesday announced a partnership with the Golden State Warriors. Voyager Digital had revealed an agreement with the Dallas Mavericks in October to make cryptocurrency more accessible through educational and community programs, as well as fan engagement promotions.
Kalifowitz said he doesn’t focus on what competitors are doing.
“We were the first to start these big sponsorships and partnerships in the industry, and we have the largest portfolio, but I love that others in the crypto space are also raising awareness of crypto,” he said. “I think all ships will rise, and we think crypto is for everybody.”
Crypto.com has succeeded in sparking interest, Kalifowitz said, and its future marketing efforts will look to build on that.
“Now that you know what this logo is, and you know that this company exists…next year is more about layering it, more about who we are as a company, telling good stories and focusing more on that education,” he explained.
Besnard noted that crypto education will continue and strengthen, noting that marketing initiatives like those executed by Crypto.com and others in 2021 will accelerate.
“As crypto and NFTs increasingly make their way into the culture and top consumer brands rush to enter the metaverse, I anticipate a growing number of collaborations between brands, digital creative agencies and crypto firms,” he said. “I predict that during the next Super Bowl, the best advertisement will come from a crypto company.”
Smith said he expects crypto money to start flooding into advertising channels like sports arenas and other venues, as well as television commercials.
“We are already seeing major ad spend go towards more traditional, branding-focused initiatives as well,” the Coinbound CEO said. “For a long time, the crypto marketing industry has seen these platforms as off-limits. Not anymore.”
Though Kalifowitz declined to specify what types of marketing initiatives the company would embark on going forward, he pointed to the existing deals that have allowed Crypto.com to access massive fan bases.
“You can imagine a lot of what we’ll do will spring off of that,” he said.
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