11 January 2023 | ZebPay Trade-Desk
Many have derided the “Fortune Favours the Brave” commercial starring Matt Damon since its release in October 2021. Critics have used the TV commercial as a creative springboard to slam the crypto space and the celebrities supporting it. The creators of South Park aired two episodes and two-part special mocking crypto users and the Crypto.com announcement in particular. Late-night TV hosts, including Stephen Colbert, also helmed the spot with skits and jokes after the May market crash.
Actors and sports stars have taken the brunt of the backlash for the 2022 endorsements of crypto, while football legends seem to have gotten away with it. Celebrities had a difficult year in 2022 promoting crypto companies and projects. Many have been the subject of lawsuits over their alleged funding of failed projects, while others have faced relentless taunting on social media. From movie stars to television actors, sports stars to musicians, many celebrities may regret their endorsement deals in the past year, although that doesn’t mean there have been exceptions.
Last February, American comedian Larry David, who co-created the television series Seinfeld, appeared in a Super Bowl ad for former crypto exchange FTX, urging users not to “miss the next great thing”. Larry has since been called in a class action lawsuit charging that he, along with other celebrities, promoted FTX to undemanding investors without conducting due diligence on the exchange. He is also under investigation by the Texas State Securities Board for payments received from FTX for his endorsements and other celebrities.
Meanwhile, the movie star, credited for his role in the Bourne Identity film series, Matt Damon continued to be ridiculed for his involvement in the $100 million Crypto.com advertising campaign. It’s unclear how much Crypto.com compensated Damon for the ad — he also received $1 million in donations for Water.org — but the actor was not the only celebrity promoting crypto firms. Reese Witherspoon’s production company collaborated with a nonfungible token collection to create feature films and a television series.
In the sports world, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka signed on as an FTX ambassador on March 21. Like the Seinfield co-creator, Osaka is also named in the lawsuit, along with other high-profile celebrities who include basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry, and NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
A federal judge in California has dismissed a class action lawsuit against reality star Kim Kardashian, boxing champ Floyd Mayweather and the founders of EthereumMax, stating that the filings which were filed did not meet the “highest plea standards” for fraud claims. However, the judge has allowed plaintiffs leeway to file new lawsuits if certain provisions are amended. In the original court filing dated Jan. 7 from Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law, the plaintiffs argued that Kardashian, Mayweather, and former NBA superstar Paul Pierce failed to disclose that they were paid to promote EthereumMax (EMAX). The plaintiffs alleged that they “made false or misleading statements” to “artificially inflate the price of the token”. Kardashian promoted EMAX in a June 2021 post on Instagram, while Mayweather sported the EMAX logo on his boxers in a match against YouTube star Logan Paul that same month.
In the music world, American rapper and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg has been sued in a class-action lawsuit for allegedly sponsoring non-fungible tokens (NFTs) along with fellow musicians Madonna, Justin Bieber, for Bored Ape Yacht Club Malone and DJ Khaled.
The lawsuit names more than 40 people and companies as defendants, including tennis-pro Serena Williams, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and comedians Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Hart.
Interestingly, not all celebrities have been negatively reviewed by crypto companies, nor have they been scrutinized by class action lawyers. On June 30, 2022, Binance announced that it had hired popular TikTok personality Khaby Lame as its ambassador. The deal was seen as positive for the crypto industry as Lame’s ambassador deal is part of Binance’s mission to increase awareness and adoption of Web 3.0 worldwide.
Musician DJ Steve Aoki jumped into the world of NFTs when sports betting and fantasy sports provider DraftKings announced the hitmaker as a brand ambassador for its NFT marketplace.
American rapper Eminem joined Snoop Dogg at the VMAs to perform his NFT track “From The D 2 The LCD” with Otherside and Bored Ape NFT.
In the esports world, David Beckham became the global ambassador for blockchain company DigitalBits, launching his own line of NFTs in the process. He seems to have avoided any allegations of wrongdoing. According to a January 2022 New York Times report, a lawsuit from investors accuses him of diverting “the money needed to develop ” into expensive sports deals and luxury travel.
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Meanwhile, legendary soccer player Lionel Messi has signed deals with Singapore-based company Bitget, fantasy sports platform Sorare and digital fan token company Socios.com
Cristiano Ronaldo’s foray into crypto support seems to have resonated well with the community as well, as he has partnered with Binance to launch an exclusive NFT collection that allows collectors to reap benefits received, including a personal message from Ronaldo and signed merchandise.