Why the Matt Damon Crypto.com commercial has been under fire

Decrypt Editor-in-Chief discusses Twitter users' beef with Matt Damon's Crypto.com advertisement and the latest with bitcoin price action.

Video Transcript


EMILY MCCORMICK: We're getting another check of cryptocurrencies to kick off the new year of trading with Dan Roberts, "Decrypt" editor-in-chief. And Dan, a number of outlets as well as "Decrypt" have pointed out that a number of stocks from Alphabet to NVIDIA and GameStop did outperform Bitcoin last year. And one year is, of course, a relatively short time horizon. And I think my take is, if anything, this kind of framing really reinforces that perhaps Bitcoin has become a benchmark for risk asset performance-- so not necessarily that Bitcoin did poorly, but that these other stocks did even better. What do you think this says about Bitcoin and where it may be heading this year?

DAN ROBERTS: Well, Emily, good to be back with you. And I agree with you. What I'd add is it was the year of the meme stock and also of the meme coin. I mean, in crypto the rise of Dogecoin was one of the biggest stories of the year. We might forget since it kind of quieted back down. And then in the last couple of months you saw SHIB, Shiba Inu, actually kind of replaced Dogecoin as the meme coin of the moment.

But point being here, the reason it's surprising that some of these big tech giants outperformed Bitcoin is because we have seen during the pandemic such huge gains for crypto. So you're right. I mean, a lot of the reason that this story is interesting is because of the optics here.

As you said, Alphabet, we highlighted at "Decrypt"-- that Nvidia, GameStop. I mean, there's your meme stock and then a couple of others. I mean, if you actually look at the first three days of the new year so far, they've also been unkind to Bitcoin. And that has even further hurt its comparison to some of those big tech companies.

If you did the last 12 months-- so we're including the first three days of the new year-- then you can add Tesla and Facebook to the list-- not Facebook, but Tesla for sure. And, again, it's all about expectation. I mean, you saw people complaining after the correction after Christmas to Bitcoin because it sank back below 50,000. Well, what about one year earlier? It was 25,000 on Christmas Day a year ago.

So you know, it's all about continually resetting the goalposts in terms of what people expect to see for gains. I mean, Ethereum had a huge breakout year too. So what I always say about Bitcoin and ETH, the two leading cryptocurrencies, is you can focus on the periodic, dramatic corrections that we do see, or you can zoom out and look at the entire line, the entire time they've been trading.

And it's mostly up and to the right. So it's going to be really interesting in 2022 what we see. And of course, the irony of big tech names outperforming Bitcoin is also that in many ways what Bitcoin is trying to do is undermine and decentralize what some of these big, centralized tech giants like Facebook do.

- Dan, I want to switch gears to something that's not necessarily crypto investing but is getting a lot of attention. And this has to do with Matt Damon. Fortune favors the brave.

You guys wrote about his commercial. There's also the ancient Roman saying that it is best to endure what you cannot change. So what can we not change about marketing and Matt Damon?

DAN ROBERTS: Well, 2021, in many ways-- I mean, there's so many huge crypto-related stories. But it was the year that crypto marketing invaded pro sports.

So there's the FTX onslaught. You know, FTX is a major crypto exchange that bought the rights to the Miami Heat arena. They also slapped their logo patch on every MLB umpires' uniform.

And then Crypto.com, another exchange, has spent huge marketing dollars. It bought their naming rights to the Staples Center where the Lakers play. A lot of people are annoyed by that.

And then there's this Matt Damon ad. I should also add that FTX has been running ads with Tom Brady, you know, for months during NFL games. So the Matt Damon ad has actually been airing since October.

But as we all know, sometimes there's a patient zero on Twitter. It just takes one or two big influencers with a huge following discovering something to bring it back to the fore. And that's what has happened this week. A lot of people, you could say normies-- that is, people who are not into crypto and in many cases who hate crypto and think it's stupid-- they discovered the Matt Damon ad this week, and they didn't like it.

And I think part of it is that Matt Damon saying, "Fortune favors the brave," a lot of people think that that's encouraging young investors who don't know better to dive into something that is high risk and lose their shirts. And look, critics said the same thing about Robinhood. You know, when Robinhood was marketing itself early on, it said, buying stocks is as simple as a swipe like on Tinder.

And a lot of people said, well, that doesn't seem like a very good idea. That's not very safe. And indeed, a lot of young investors buying meme stocks have lost a lot of money. But a lot of them also made a ton of money during the pandemic.

So you're only going to see more of this crypto marketing. Crypto.com and FTX have both said they bought Super Bowl ads. And I expect to see yet another crypto name buy a Super Bowl ad to make it three.

And you know, get used to it. But I do think that there's the risk of alienating people or making people who already hate crypto hate it even more. I mean, if you're a Lakers fan and you think Bitcoin is stupid, you do not love that the arena is now called the Crypto.com Arena.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Dan, switching gears yet again, I know one other story that you've been tracking has been about Ethereum NFT trading volume because it looks like at least on OpenSea it already is a pretty strong start to the year on this front. What can you tell us about what you're expecting for the rest of 2022 on that?

DAN ROBERTS: Well, what do I expect for 2022 with NFTs? I'd say at the very least they continue to be a thing. They are not dead. They were never dead.

The use cases continue to multiply, and the creative examples are starting to appear more and more. And I think the shift we've seen is that when the madness, when the mania, started last March it was NBA Top Shots which were just video clips of NBA highlights and digital trading cards, i.e. static images that do nothing. And then we saw-- you know, first, people said NFTs are dead. The volume tanked.

And then around August, it came back and was like four times bigger than it had ever been in March. And we've seen the kind of use cases shift. Now it's Bored Ape Yacht Club.

It's profile pictures. It's your membership ticket to a club. You know, NFTs are becoming your access pass that get you all kinds of perks.

That's not to mention the metaverse and gaming. We're going to see more and more and more use cases of NFTs. That doesn't mean there won't be examples of NFTs that people paid a lot of money for it, and they tank in value. We will see that as well.

But NFTs are not dead as a form of tech. They're going to continue. And I think that something interesting is going to come along that we can't even imagine yet. But, boy, if the first week of the new year is any indication, OpenSea is seeing huge volume again. And just this past weekend, Eminem and a couple of other celebrities bought Bored Apes.