sport x crypto “partnerships”

After 2+ years in web3 and a decade in football, I’m disturbed by what I’m seeing in recent partnership trends between athletes, brands, and crypto companies.

To quote a conversation with a friend of mine: “I just think it’s all going to fail. No one knows what they’re doing.”

If we’ve talked partnerships, you know how I stress the importance of building win-win-win scenarios.

In my mind this means: Company 🤝 Consumer 🤝 World at large.

In the football x “crypto” partnerships today, brands and athletes are blindly jumping into campaigns and promotions with no clear product, strategy, and certainly no web3/decentralized-focus. Leaving audiences confused and skeptical, risking trust and equity that’s been built over many, many years.

You’ve seen it. Tom Brady partnering with FTX. OKX banners on the field as ManCity’s official exchange partner. DigitalBits failing to pay Inter Milan, after taking over shirt sponsorship from infamous Pirelli. 😢 And FIFA now officially partnering with various NFT and metaverse communities ahead of the World Cup.

While many may launch with top intentions at their conception, I wonder how many (if any) have what it takes to build sustainable projects and, y’know, actually add value.

I have no doubt these ‘partnerships’ will continue as brands and athletes capitalize on speculation, so as consumers, executives, and crypto-engaged, here’s my advice:

1) Don’t buy into FOMO.
2) Do your due diligence before ‘minting’ or blindly retweeting some _seemingly exciting_ headlines.
3) & as professionals and partnership execs, consider this idea of win-win-win scenarios and ask yourself if that’s really the case. If not, how can you change the narrative?

“When we see Manchester City, Barcelona and Fulham football clubs respectively partnering with companies that literally do not exist – I find it unlikely this event will scare partnerships teams, rightly or wrongly (probably wrongly).” h/t Petrit Berisha/Sporting Crypto

This is a backwards reality at the moment — we can’t win together if we’re busy pushing our own bags.

Instead, be the rising tide of purpose that floats all boats. Find a meaningful direction and build towards it intentionally. Engagement farming and clickbait headlines is not the way. What kind of real world utility is feasible in the short term for your company? Followed by, what are longer-term goals that can be unlocked by strategic blockchain partnerships and initiatives?

This could be anything, but some thoughtstarters:

  • Rewards programs for your most engaged customers/community members that show up the consistently
  • Incentives for completing brand-based actions, or IRL events
  • Meet and greets with team members/athletes
  • Pre-sale and early access opportunities
  • Suprise & delight moments such as Lounge or Suite access
  • Exclusive or signed merchandise
  • Exclusive discourse and community conversation channels
  • Sweepstakes for once-in-a-lifetime luxury experiences

The most important part is that you are transparent in your experimentation, and that you stick with it!

Great resources exist to help out! For example, check out Lucy Mills & her teams’ READY Sport project: “coming together to learn about – and deploy – innovation, technology, and Web 3.0 to supercharge women’s sport and shape the future of sport.”

More soon, and maybe some resources I publish of my own 👀


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