Game day tailgate activities traditionally include drinking beers and grilling foods, but the sponsorship deal between Blockchain.com and the Dallas Cowboys has added setting up crypto wallets to the list of pregame activities.
Today marks the Texas football team's season opener, and Blockchain.com is in the midst of the fanfare with a booth looking to educate fans on crypto. Blockchain.com CEO Peter Smith said day one has been busy.
But only time will tell whether that will translate to a broader customer base.
The firm inked a deal with the Cowboys in April of this year as part of a larger marketing push to onboard more retail users in the U.S. At the time of the deal, Smith said the firm had gone from spending effectively nothing on marketing to making plans to spend around $50 million this year.
But crypto markets have continued to tank since that deal closed, and industry insiders have mixed views on the growth of partnerships between crypto firms and sports teams. Still, Smith says the best time to build is in a bear market, and Blockchain.com hasn't changed the percentage it plans to spend on marketing as a result of market conditions.
"The best time to invest in brand marketing is when the market is down," he said. "You want people to be aware of your brand when the market is toughest. In a bear market you want to do brand and educational marketing, and that's why we are putting so much emphasis on the educational element."
Smith acknowledged that Blockchain.com is playing a long game, saying he expects the partnership will take years to pay off. Part of the plan is to repeatedly expose the large fan base of the Cowboys to the Blockchain.com brand. That includes ads during the game, its tailgate education center and QR codes on the back of stadium seats among other tactics.
"When you do something like this, they see your brand over and over again so you have an ability to convert people over a much longer time horizon," said Smith. "The Cowboys are in the highlight reel a lot so it also will hit fans beyond the Cowboys."
It's also challenging to measure the success of such marketing pushes. In the wake of the the Super Bowl, Bloomberg reported that the crypto platforms that ran ads all saw a decline in U.S. app store downloads during the week leading up to the game. On the Monday after game day, Coinbase reached the second slot on the App Store's free app rankings, but because the ranking algorithm remains murky, the significance of the rise in rankings is unclear. Ultimately, it appears the ads did not translate into a significant new user base for the platforms.
Smith said Blockchain.com will have a better understanding of the deal's impact in the next one to three years. It'll look for how many fans appear to know what the firm does and if it sees an uptick in the percentage of Cowboy fans using its products. Smith relayed that during the pre-season games the firm already saw a spike in downloads, with a 5x surge during the first pre-season game.
As of now, Blockchain.com is the only crypto player marketing in the NFL, but it's only one of many recent collaborations between crypto firms and sports franchises. FTX struck multiple high-profile partnerships within the NBA. ByBit recently inked a three-year, $150 million deal with Red Bull Racing. Crypto.com has a $175 million, 10-year deal with the UFC in addition to its $700 million renaming of the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the next 20 years.
Contributed reporting by Frank Chaparro.
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