Mon. Jan 24th, 2022


“History is filled with amps – with those who have almost adventure, who have almost reached,” a black-clad Matt Damon tell the camera while strolling through a virtual “museum of bravery” displays a variety of milestones in human achievement. “Then there are others – those who embrace and commit to the moment,” he continues as he walks past a mountaineer. The video clip ends with Damon telling us, “Fortune benefits the brave.”

This could be a promotional video for all sorts of things – a new movie trailer from the Bourne franchise starring the actor; an advertisement for an outdoor clothing brand with a lot of extra cash on its hands; even a recruitment campaign for the armed services or another pursuit that requires a level of courage. But it’s not one of those things. After Damon’s serious delivery of his final line, it’s finally revealed what he’s selling: crypto.com.

The ad for the crypto and NFT platform, which first aired in October but went viral in recent days after being shown during an NFL game on Sunday, is not going well. The internet verdict seems to be fairly unanimous: the ad is “shrinking”; “quite creepy”; “shrink-inducing”- you get the idea.

And rightly so. Equate some of the greatest human achievements in history with the purchase of strings of digital 1s and 0s representing crypto tokens or NFTs from bored monkeys is ridiculous, as is the idea that it should be considered brave (foolishness is something very different). But the ad is more than just disturbing – there is something grotesque about seeing a man whose net worth was recently worth $ 170m shilling for a platform that already makes so much money that it can afford to spend $ 700 million trademark Los Angeles’ Staples Center as the Crypto.com Arena.

One should always be careful to name the top in any market – especially crypto. There is no set of fundamental factors that one can use to determine whether prices are too high or low; it’s a market whose main driver seems to be that Elon Musk also had recently decided to tweet; one of whose top ingredients are based on a joke dog meme. But the setback that the ad provoked feels like a symptom of a market that has lost a bit of its buzz. Bitcoin trades around the $ 46,000 mark, having lost a third of its value since reaching a record high in November; dogecoin has lost nearly four-fifths of its value since last May.

The unenthusiastic response to the ad suggests that the mood has changed since the exuberance of 2021, when the “LOL” factor seemed to become a true market driver. There also seems to be a growing recognition that the crypto market is similar to a Ponzi or pyramid scheme. So widespread has this idea now spread that cryptocurrencies have even begun to defend the idea of ​​these schemes. “Join a pyramid. It’s not a bubble unless it bursts,” one crypto-blogger written last month in a post called “In praise of Ponzis”.

Crypto.com declined to tell the Financial Times how much Damon was paid for his appearance, but the company apparently spent more than $ 100 million on the ‘Fortune favors the brave’ campaign – the whole budget for Damon’s latest feature film, box office flop The last duel. So it’s probably safe to assume it’s been a pretty decent payday for the actor – presumably why Damon, who pronounced on climate change and its impact on water scarcity, has chosen to large carbon footprint of bitcoin and other crypto tokens and NFTs.

It’s all a little sick. In 2010, Damon was the narrator for a film about the financial crisis, Are Job. He concludes with the following about financiers: “They will spend billions to fight reform. It will not be easy. But some things are worth fighting for. ” With crypto companies spending increasing amounts of money lobbying, these words now seem pertinent.

Damon is by no means the first known person to do so whip crypto to the masses. Kim Kardashian was criticized last year after taking Ethereum Max and everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Melania Trump whipped NFTs. But the truth is, we all expected better from him. The fact that even a man known for his philanthropy and keeping a low profile seems susceptible to the lure of crypto makes the whole thing seem more sinister.

jemima.kelly@ft.com





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