African crypto projects are on a journey to the moon. With crypto, African people’s savings are hedged against insane inflation levels, they can find employment in Web3, and there is always the potential to make life-changing money that will transform the trajectory of their lives forever.
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People from various backgrounds are embarking on this journey to outer space. These crypto astronauts have, until recently, been hesitant to declare their involvement in the blockchain space. General sentiments around crypto were extremely negative due to the huge slew of scams disguised as cryptocurrency projects that swept through the continent, taking away hard-earned capital and confidence in anything branded with crypto.
Regulation has not helped in this case either. In most African countries with signs of strong crypto adoption, central banks issued statements that cast a shadow on the already “questionable” sector. In Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya, regulators took turns issuing warnings to the general public about the dangers involved with crypto. Being involved in crypto would regularly lead to a few chuckles and hostile responses anytime you were bold enough to admit it.
Celebrities As Crypto Brand Ambassadors.
As established already, the negative PR that crypto has faced in Africa means that lots of rebranding and promotion are needed. The huge interest in crypto on the continent has attracted some big spenders, such as Binance and FTX, which have large marketing budgets. Homegrown companies like Quidax and Yellow Card, which want to keep up with these international companies, have also adopted similar spending habits. A major feature of the marketing plans of all three companies mentioned is the inclusion of celebrities.
Binance is spending big in Africa. In early 2022 alone, Binance sponsored the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon and Nigerian Idol. Including popular faces in its education drive is a core part of its marketing efforts. In December 2021, the exchange signed deals with reality TV show Big Brother Naija participants Hazel Oyeze Onou, popularly known as Whitemoney; Ikechukwu Sunday Okonkwo, known as Cross; and Pere Egbi, known simply as Pere. Since the announcement, the trio has been featured in several educational videos targeted at potential new users of cryptocurrency.
FTX is also making huge marketing moves on the continent. In an attempt to attract a female demographic, which has been hard to reach, FTX Africa partnered with six female celebrities to push Web3, including actor Cynthia Nwadiora, actor Beverly Naya, lifestyle influencer Aunty Ada, Big Brother Naija star Saskay, TV personality Serwaa Amihere and actor Osas Ighodaro.
Nigeria-based Quidax is not slowing down as it intends to compete with various international exchanges entering the market. In March 2022, the exchange announced popular Nigerian music producer Don Jazzy as its brand ambassador alongside five other celebrities: Diane Russet and Bisola Aiyeola — both actors and reality TV stars — actor Timini Egbuson, celebrity chef Gbubemi Fregene and musician M.I Abaga.
The African Celebrity NFT Adoption
Yellow Card is another exchange based in Nigeria looking to capture market share on the continent. The exchange announced a partnership with Ghanaian dancehall artist Stonebwoy to spread crypto awareness in West Africa.
In Nigeria, Bnxn and Falz are two of the biggest artists to have released an NFT. Bnxn (formerly known as Buju) launched HeadsByBnxn, a collection of 10,001 NFTs designed around him and his journey in the music industry. The project was launched on the Polygon blockchain to make minting more affordable. Holders are treated to exclusive listening parties and in-person and virtual shows.
Falz, another popular artist, landed a deal with the Binance NFT Marketplace, where he exclusively sells his Falz Ice Cream collection. Like Bnxn’s collection, there are exclusive experiences for people holding the NFTs. I had the chance to speak to Falz about his collection on Cointelegraph’s flagship Twitter Spaces show, Crypto Talk Africa. As he said:
“With this [NFTs], I think it not only offers a different avenue for artists to exploit their intellectual property, it also offers an avenue to organically build a community, you know? And this latter one is what I’m very excited about.”