Apr 8, 2022 - Economy

Blockchain.com jumps into the sports partnership race

Illustration of a bitcoin sitting within a baseball glove

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Blockchain.com, a 10-year-old crypto company that began as a digital bitcoin wallet, is the latest in the industry to double down on sports marketing with the hiring of Marissa Brooks to head its global sports and entertainment partnerships.

Why it matters: Crypto companies have increasingly looked to sports audiences as a way to acquire new users — and spread the gospel of digital assets.

The big picture: Crypto companies like FTX, Coinbase, and Crypto.com (among many others) have been inking all manners of marketing deals to get their brands in front of sports fans.

  • Those have included sports stadium naming rights sponsorships, team and league sponsorships, and getting star athletes as ambassadors and investors.
  • And this year's NFL Super Bowl in February featured ads by four crypto companies, which used everything from comedian Larry David to floating QR codes to pique viewers' curiosity.

What they're saying: "I think it’s been interesting to see the land grabs," Brooks, who spent 10 years at the NBA's Miami Heat before a recent detour to luxury goods, tells Axios of watching other companies ink headline-making deals.

  • "People came in and they came in with big checkbooks, and they had no problem leveraging that — and now we have a chance to see what’s worked out well and maybe what hasn't worked out as well," she adds.
  • The company already started inking some deals, like a recently announced partnership with e-sports league Cloud9. And while not on the roadmap, Brooks says she's not ruling out a stadium naming rights deal.

Between the lines: Educating consumers about crypto —in addition to touting specific brands — remains a big part of what the companies still have to tackle, admits Brooks.

  • While a bigger proportion of young adults in the U.S. are familiar with crypto, it's still not the majority.

What's next: Like its peers, Blockchain.com plans on expanding its marketing efforts beyond sports into additional verticals, says chief business officer Lane Kasselman.

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