In a flashy ad campaign for Crypto.com, Hollywood star Matt Damon told would-be cryptocurrency investors that “fortune smiles on the brave.”
But after bitcoin’s price plunged this week, wiping out more than $200 billion in wealth in just 24 hours, Damon and nine other high-profile celebrities who have publicly endorsed digital currencies clearly weren’t brave enough to comment on the apparent collapse of the market.
NBC News has reached out to reps for Damon, as well as Larry David, Charli D’Amelio, Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton, LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon. Their spokespersons did not respond to emails sent Thursday morning; Kardashian’s publicist declined to comment.
Damon, David, and James each appeared in eye-catching crypto ads that aired during the Super Bowl in February. The ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star appeared in a cheeky ad for the FTX exchange, making it seem like crypto deniers would be judged as harshly by history as those who oppose silverware or wheel. James, meanwhile, pitched for Crypto.com.
D’Amelio, Foxx, Hilton, Kardashian, Kutcher, Paltrow, and Witherspoon have publicly endorsed various cryptocurrencies in recent years via social media posts or other announcements. Witherspoon, for example, tweeted in December that “crypto is here to stayand encouraged more women to get involved.
The market’s dramatic sell-off this week raises troubling questions about the stability of the crypto market and the long-term value of digital currency, increasing anxiety among retail investors and validating skeptics who have dismissed crypto as a fad or a scam.
None of the celebrities contacted by NBC News are of course directly responsible for the crash, but marketing experts say they helped bolster the legitimacy of a rapidly growing but misunderstood industry.
“Major celebrity endorsements across crypto — whether it’s Matt Damon or Tom Brady — help consumers feel comfortable with those brands,” said Jason Damata, founder and CEO of Fabric Media, a technology company. strategy and marketing that has partnered with celebrities.
“When a celebrity puts their name on a brand in a market where there are literally hundreds of choices, it helps the consumer to improve and they build trust in the product,” he said.
But with any endorsement, crypto or otherwise, many consumers assume the pitchman has done at least some level of research on the product — in this case, the digital currencies that some reviewers consider an extremely risky bet.
“I think consumers assume that spokespersons have done their due diligence on the companies they promote,” Damata said, explaining that he doesn’t hold any of the celebrities directly responsible for market fluctuations.
Investors appear to be abandoning crypto as traditional stock markets begin to plunge from pandemic-era highs amid fears over inflation and a weakening economic outlook.