Fame, What’s Your Name?

Celebrity Cryptocurrency Endorsement

Celebrities have endorsed consumer products and charitable organizations since marketing entered the premier league. Now, a Colombian football star has parked his boot on a financial product the world is hearing a lot about.

Rock legend David Bowie was not just a musical ground-breaker of prodigious output. He also pioneered the rock-star endorsed financial instrument, the Bowie Bond, back in 1997, at a time when the financial world seemed a more innocent place.

That scheme invited fans and other investors to purchase said bonds on the strength of Bowie’s future royalties from the 25 albums of the 1969 to 1990 period, arguably his most fertile. The bonds offered a 7.9% annual coupon and were liquidated a decade later, having set a precedent for celebrity financial tie-ins.

Best foot forward

They may have a far shorter commercial lifespan than their artistic counterparts, but sporting stars can shine equally bright. Take for instance Colombian soccer hero James Rodrí­guez. He was a Golden Boot winner of the 2014 World Cup. And OK, he didn’t enable his national team to move into the quarter finals in Russia this World Cup cycle. But his club pedigree is solid. And the attacking midfielder remains a fan favorite.

No token presence

His latest endorsement deal is in the financial arena, and is certainly more eye-catching than more familiar product tie-ins. In short, cryptocurrencies. James is tied to the launch on July 12 of the JR10 Token; the name referencing his initials and national team number.

The deal is a partnership with Fintech startup SelfSell, and will utilize its blockchain-enabled mobile app enabling cryptocurrency sales through iOS and Android apps. As an active player, and aged 26, his face should spark greater cryptocurrency curiosity among tech-savvy millennials.

Smart headwork

His tie-in message was premiered by SelfSell CEO and founder Yuan Li at the BlockShow 2018 in Berlin. “I have come to a new field,” James quipped. The caliber of the pun met every expectation of football-related wit, but the product is anything but workaday, and could score big-time in the Bitcoin universe.

And playing the long game, 160 million JR10 Tokens amounting to 8% of the total issuance are set aside for fans, free no less, in order to establish at a stroke a loyal Bitcoin community by association. With pitch perfect timing, the launch happens to take place in the last week of the 2018 World Cup. FIFA numbers put the in-home viewership of World Cup 2014 at over 3.2 billion people, a mere 46.4% of humans on earth.

And from a marketing perspective, even if that number included those watching coverage over a minimum one minute, it’s still a pretty sweet deal.

Different kits

In the financial world, James, who dons the Bayern Munich strip while on loan from Real Madrid, has already endorsed Libertex. The Cyprus-based online financial markets trading platform caters to over 2 million clients from over 110 countries. And for fans of impressive numbers, here are some for James himself. As of June 5, 2018, his market value was EUR70 million, a tad down on the EUR80 million peak scaled in 2015.
The latest endorsement, according to the jargon used by SelfSell, and the clue’s in the name, is part of the Fan Economy, one kept liquid by the emotional capital of celebrity adoration. It also confirms continued efforts by Bitcoin players to be associated with demonstrable wealth, rather than financial experimentation central banks don’t quite know how to read.