Why Celebrity Shills Make Crypto Feel Icky
Celebrity shills have been part of the crypto scene for a while now, but there are new faces in the cryptoverse: including a few that we all recognize. Turning to the gossip columns, millions of people watched Ashton Kutcher introduce Ellen DeGeneres to cryptocurrency. For those of us who grew up with That ’70’s Show, Kelso becoming a crypto geek was not a plot twist we expected.
In yesterday’s episode, Kutcher applauded Ellen’s work in wildlife preservation and then offered her $4M to save the gorillas—in XRP. “Usually people come out with a big giant check, and they do the big giant check thing,” he said,“But we can actually transfer it into Rwandan francs, right now, right here, and all we have to do is push this button and it’s in your account.”
“I’d like to push it,” Ellen said. “I’d like to push it real good.” A button press and four seconds later, a fortune was effortlessly shifted across borders, with no correspondent banks, hassle or paperwork.
This is a pretty positive development, considering the last time Ellen mentioned crypto was to compare bitcoin to a goat. (“I’d rather have a baby goat,” she said back in February.)
So why isn’t anyone clapping? Normally one would expect investors to be happy when someone famous praises crypto’s fruits, but on Reddit the overwhelming reaction was to say that the grapes were sour. “Ellen has almost 80 million followers and she[’s] shilling Ripple,” complained one top-level thread. Nevermind the fact that, to anyone who watched the segment, Ellen was clearly the one being shilled. The thread quickly accumulated a thousand upvotes and 700+ comments.
Meanwhile, on the opposite page of the tabloid, Stormy Daniels was also giving crypto some….exposure. Along with about twenty other adult websites, StormyDaniels.com has joined up with a token ecosystem for the porn industry. In a release issued today, Darkreach announced its adoption of the Vice Industry Token, which we are disappointed to learn is not associated with the news network of the same name. “Users will get paid in VIT to watch videos on StormyDaniels.com,” the companies announced in a joint release. “The tokens they earn can be used to watch premium content on her site or on other sites in the network.”
This isn’t the newest idea in crypto, or the craziest, but once again the response was nonplussed. This time we can kind-of understand why, since Ms. Daniels is not exactly known for her choosing her partners wisely. The last time she talked crypto, it was to announce the fling between Brazzers and Verge, which has since exploded into an unpleasant mess.
Normally hodlers should be pleased when they see strangers adopting cryptocurrency, so why do we all roll our eyes when it’s someone that we recognize?
Part of it seems to be—let’s face it—very petty aversion to sharing the limelight. The “celebrity effect” is a well-documented phenomenon in marketing, and it’s not unknown for a decent product to be outshone by the star power of a Hollywood endorsement. After all, famous people have brands to build, too.
Another cause for concern is that when stars get involved in crypto, they usually do so in very poor taste. Historically, a celebrity namecheck has been a big red flag: Centra, which got a heavy shilling from Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled, is now under investigation for financial fraud. Likewise, when Paris Hilton endorsed LydianCoin, no one thought she was doing it for the tech.
The uneasy fact is that, promising tech aside, cryptocurrency is a magnet for the John McAfee-types who aren’t doing the community any services. Steven Seagal, for example, made crypto a laughing stock when he became brand ambassador for “Bitcoiin,” a shameless ponzi scam with the familiar geometric figure in its white paper. Seagal and the other project heads have since (apparently) bailed out, but the scam somehow continues.
So what are we supposed to do when we see when a cryptocurrency gets a mention from Hollywood? The same thing as when anyone else speaks up–DYOR.
The author is invested in XRP and Bitcoin, which are mentioned in this article.