The biggest trend in crypto right now has little to do with Bitcoin or even Bored Apes. It’s cryptocurrency exchanges stockpiling sports partnerships and athlete endorsements.
That’s set to reach fever pitch on February 13 during the Super Bowl, the most watched television program in the U.S. each year. Both Crypto.com and FTX have lined up celebrity sponsors and shelled out millions for ad time during the game.
Binance, though, is sitting this one out. And it’s tagged five-time NBA All Star Jimmy Butler to tell people they don’t have to play either.
“On February 13, you’re going to hear some of the biggest names telling you to get into crypto,” the Miami Heat small forward said via a video today on Binance’s Twitter account. “But they don’t know you or your finances. Only you do. Binance and I are here to tell you: Trust yourself and, of course, do your own research.”
Binance has long been the top cryptocurrency exchange by volume, but the maturation of the cryptocurrency space along with concerted ad campaigns has threatened its win streak. Throughout 2021, its top rivals busied themselves with sports partnerships and endorsement deals. FTX bought the rights to rename the Miami Heat Arena after itself and signed NFL legend Tom Brady and NBA sharpshooter Steph Curry as brand ambassadors, Crypto.com sponsored UFC and got the naming rights to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers’ arena, and Coinbase plastered its name on NBA flooring, just to name a few deals.
Binance has mostly avoided adopting the athlete and celebrity endorsement model, though it recently courted Spanish footballer Andrés Iniesta and sponsored the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.
Thus far, the no-frills approach has been working. As of the most recent numbers, Binance controls 62% of the spot trading volume among the top five exchanges on CoinMarketCap ranked by trust score (which incorporates volume, liquidity, cybersecurity measures and size). Its grip on derivatives trading—where U.S.-based Coinbase has been shut out thus far due to regulatory issues—is nearly as strong; it controls 58% of the daily trading volume. (Note: Binance owns CoinMarketCap, but the numbers presented are comparable to other crypto data aggregators.)
As recently as November, the sports-centric approach of its competitors appeared to be paying off, as Binance’s share of trade volume dipped to 45%.
And the tactic may yet get them a result. The Super Bowl attracted nearly 100 million viewers in the U.S. in 2021—and that was a down year due to COVID; the number typically reaches near 150 million people. With recent surveys suggesting fewer than 20% of Americans have invested in crypto, a Super Bowl ad can get a lot of spectators into the game.
But Binance and Jimmy Butler won’t mind if you watch Olympic curling instead.