But amid a crash that has sent traders reeling and the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plunging, the meltdown has exposed the risk in hyped-up investments and the perils in readily believing a convincing sales pitch.
“When a celebrity puts their name on a brand in a marketplace where there’s literally hundreds of choices, it helps the consumer hone in, and they’re lending their trust to the product,” Jason Damata, the founder and CEO of Fabric Media, a strategy and marketing company, told NBC News.
Now those of wealth and status like Damon, who peddled the digital currencies to the masses, are feeling the heat. If social media is any indication, the star of “Jason Bourne” and “The Martian” was an easy target, with many pointing to his flashy commercial for Crypto.com that first aired at the end of October and has since racked up nearly 18 million views on YouTube.
Walking through a futuristic hall, Damon points to “mere mortals” — “just like you and me,” he adds — who have “embrac[ed] the moment and committ[ed]” to the daring escapade of their choosing, whether scaling a mountain or soaring into outer space.
“Fortune favors the brave,” he concludes while gazing out into the galaxy.
The partnership between Damon and Crypto.com marked the “first global marketing push” for the platform, Bloomberg reported last October, with more than $100 million being committed to the campaign. That same ad first aired in the fall was also broadcast during the Super Bowl, later mockingly coined the “Crypto Bowl,” because of the number of famous actors and athletes pushing crypto exchange companies in various commercials.
“I’ve never done an endorsement like this,” Damon said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re hoping this is the beginning of a great long-term collaboration.”
Cryptocurrencies were on fire last year following a lengthy period of time where they were largely viewed as a “fringe, speculative product,” and appeared to be gaining more legitimacy, the Wall Street Journal reported. Amid the rising interest, Bloomberg reported, the Singapore-based Crypto.com sought to generate even more revenue after having “grown its user base about tenfold” from the year prior.
Well he never specified good or bad fortune
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 4, 2022
An investor with the platform, Damon told Bloomberg he is conservative with what he chooses to put his money into and will usually “ride or die with the economy” as he focuses on his day job making and starring in films.
His forecast appeared to be on the right track, with the Journal reporting that in November both bitcoin and ethereum, “two of the most popular cryptocurrencies, reached all-time highs.” But amid a worsening economic outlook and the rapid flight of traders, those values sunk 58 and 60 percent, respectively, from their previous levels as of Friday.
Now — with more than $1 trillion worth of digital money erased since November, the Journal reported — all eyes are on Damon and other celebrities who promoted investing in crypto, with many online specifically directing their ire at him.
“If you’d bought $1000 when Matt Damon’s ‘Fortune Favors the Brave!’ crypto ad premiered, you’d have $476,” Jon Schwarz, a writer for The Intercept, tweeted when the apparent crash became evident at the beginning of the week.
This bitcoin EFT fell even further during the rest of today. Now if you’d bought $1000 when Matt Damon’s “Fortune Favors the Brave!” crypto ad premiered, you’d have $476. https://t.co/h9U9T4ERoe
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) May 9, 2022
If you bought Bitcoin when this Matt Damon commercial came out (“fortune favors the brave”) you would have already lost more than half your money https://t.co/x96KCTu5K1
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 10, 2022
Many bemoaned the fate of those who followed Damon’s advertisement and lost a considerable amount of their money — and perhaps savings — as a result.
“Look what happened to people who took Matt Damon’s investment advice right now. Which is why — and this should be obvious to even small children — you should never take investment advice from celebrities,” tweeted one person. “If someone is trying to sell you something that’s too good to be true, it is.”
Matt Damon isn’t sweating that Super Bowl ad urging you to invest in crypto — after all, Matt got paid in good old fashioned US dollars.
— Max Burns (@themaxburns) May 12, 2022
The next Interview with Matt Damon should really ask him how much money it took for him to get people into a now collapsing scam system. https://t.co/1zYjnL9j7D
— tante (@tante) May 12, 2022
I know a lot of people are going to celebrate this (and pray for the day when they never see another cartoon fucking gorilla again) but FWIW a lot of normal people are going to lose their jobs and savings accounts while the C-suites and investors live to rush for gold another day
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 12, 2022
Others also brought Brady into the mix — with one person questioning how the former Patriots legend was able to largely evade the blame being directed at Damon — and others speculating on why two men with a significant amount of wealth chose to hawk crypto in the first place.
“I wonder how much Tom Brady, Matt Damon and Larry David got paid to shill for crypto. Also, do any of those guys really need more money?” John Reinana reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, tweeted.
Thinking about the obscene amounts of money celebs like Matt Damon must’ve made during the pandemic — one of the largest upward transfers of wealth in the decades — and how they still chose to hawk crypto
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) May 11, 2022
I wonder how much Tom Brady, Matt Damon and Larry David got paid to shill for crypto. Also, do any of those guys really need more money?
— John Reinan (@StribGuy) May 13, 2022
Matt Damon getting dragged on here for the https://t.co/LQphZ2jIU6 ads but Tom Brady’s laser eyes going largely ignored on this hell site
— Ryan Gorman (@GormoExJourno) May 12, 2022
Others, meanwhile, took the opportunity to crack jokes about Damon’s embattled venture.
Many referenced the movies he has been featured in, including “We Bought a Zoo” and the “Ocean’s” series.
“Just buying one more zoo and then I’ll stop taking my financial advice from Matt Damon,” Dave Itzkoff, a culture reporter for The New York Times, tweeted.
ME: I’ve got some bad news. I took some of Matt Damon’s financial advice and spent our money on an unstable venture.
MY WIFE: Oh, no. You didn’t waste money on crypto, did you?
ME (hiding the deed to the zoo I bought): Uh, yes.
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) May 13, 2022
Matt Damon was in Oceans 11, 12, 13. You crypto guys just fell victim to his latest heist
— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) May 12, 2022
who’s gonna play Matt Damon in the movie about the Bitcoin collapse
— CHOAM Nomsky (@samthielman) May 12, 2022
Matt Damon’s ad told you that this required bravery. It didn’t say there would be no difficult moments.
— Centrist 🤝Madness (@CentristMadness) May 12, 2022
Matt Damon’s crypto shill ad should’ve been called Bourne Yesterday
— Damon Agnos (@damonagnos) May 11, 2022
just buying one more zoo and then I’ll stop taking my financial advice from Matt Damon
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 12, 2022
Shannon Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.