A memecoin might get the Vegas treatment, but crypto ads rarely age well

Just because your memecoin can raise almost a million dollars to put a Shiba Inu wearing a hat on the Las Vegas Sphere doesn’t mean you should

OPINION
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Crypto is apparently “so back” this week that a memecoin called dogwifhat managed to crowdfund more than $700,000 to display their logo on the Las Vegas Sphere.

This is far from the first time that a crypto project has raised a lot of money in a very short period of time to do something unexpected. More than a few past fundraisers have proposed wacky projects with an uneven success rate, to both fanfare and groans from the community.

Way back in 2014, the community around the original memecoin, dogecoin, gathered over $25,000 to send the Jamaican bobsleigh team to the Olympics. I’d argue that this type of random crypto fundraising falls into the category of gimmicky, but with a good message. 

Dogwifhat’s fundraise, on the other hand, lands more firmly in the second category of crypto crowdsourcing: gimmicky, with a bad taste left in your mouth.

This is not a commentary on dogwifhat itself, nor am I suggesting that WIF would steal the money (their use of a five-party multi-sig wallet is a good preventative measure). Neither is my intent to say that the memecoin itself is in danger of rugging, like so many memecoins do. Its contract has no mint authority and the original LP liquidity token was burned.

Instead, I’d merely like to point out the fact that these types of far-flung crypto advertising and fundraising boondoggles have rarely aged well. FTX’s since-discarded arena ads in Florida come to mind.

A better comparison might be ConstitutionDAO. The grassroots movement managed to raise enough money to bid on the auction for a first-edition of that rare US document  — a whopping $47 million in a week — only to be thwarted at the finish line.

The difficulties in a DAO actually entering the auction were manifold, as they had to use a non-profit to conduct the bidding and go through the necessary know-your-customer process, as well as convert the money into US dollars — all to end up not having enough to cover the expected maintenance costs of such a fragile historical document. Everyone who participated in Constitution DAO was able to get their money back, minus a transaction fee.

Read more from our opinion section: Crypto must advertise

A more successful example of a crypto fundraise that did what it set out to do is LinksDAO, which actually purchased a golf course in Scotland with its crowdfunding and apparently maintains a robust membership model for golf enthusiasts. But this type of funding success is the exception, not the norm.

The process of actually getting your advertisement on the Sphere is a bit murky, given the slew of articles on the multimillion-dollar price range for Sphere advertising during the Super Bowl. According to an unofficial pitch deck from 2023, one day is priced at $450,000 and one week at $650,000. 

A marketing company, unaffiliated with the Sphere, also advertises a Sphere residency package that seems to confirm those numbers — an investment of $450,000-$650,000 will get you 414 minutes of exposure on the Sphere over the course of a week, with plenty of specifics on what the Sphere’s in-house design team is able to provide. 

Although, if dogwifhat’s website is anything to go by, the in-house team will have almost nothing to do, as the design is already complete.

Source: Dogwifhat fundraising page

Dogwifhat’s sub-Reddit seems to think that the hatted Shiba Inu will be up on the Sphere as soon as April 19, and while dogwifhat’s multisig signer Mihir told me that the memecoin is already in touch with the Sphere, they “can’t disclose the timeline for getting dogwifhat on the Sphere.” 

In response to a question about how the initiative would actually issue a payment, given the hurdles faced by ConstitutionDAO, Mihir said the team would convert their USDC donations to USD and will use leftover funds for either another marketing campaign or donate them.

The Sphere didn’t return my request for comment by press time, although they did decline to comment to Gizmodo about pricing or when the dogwifhat picture would appear..

What will happen if the knit-hatted Shiba Inu does make it onto the big stage? Incredibly, we actually have another specifically Shiba Inu-themed crypto ad campaign to compare WIF to.

Memecoin Floki Inu’s “Missed DOGE? Get $FLOKI” London transport campaign was banned in 2022 by the country’s advertising watchdog for “irresponsibly exploit[ing] consumers’ fear of missing out and triviali[zing] investment in cryptocurrency.” 

That’s not to say that a similar fate awaits WIF for their purported campaign. As far as we know, there’s no actual text involved, just a picture.

The idea that this amount of money was raised with — quite literally — only an image as the goal is remarkable. 

But it doesn’t mean that just because you can do something, you should do it. As I wrote last week, there’s no reason to make crypto into more of a circus than it already is.


I don’t care much about tech, I don’t care a whole lot about finance, either. I care about writing stories and watching weird things unfold. And that’s why I’ve ended up in crypto.

But because I’m missing that passion for what crypto and blockchain are all about — finance, tech, privacy, yadda yadda — I’m going to write instead about what I am actually interested in. Everything about crypto that has very little to do with crypto.

That’s what this column will be about. All the tangential stories that come out of the blockchain and crypto space, what I think about them, and how I navigate it all as a skeptical former Russian literature major.

It’s precisely my perch as an outsider that lets me do what I do: Opine on all sides of any crypto issue, no strings attached, no skin in the game.

If you want to talk crypto with me, let’s go off topic.


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