Brand Strategy

Why Crypto.com is all in on the Philadelphia 76ers

The cryptocurrency trading platform has a jersey-patch sponsorship with the NBA franchise and a deal with team center Joel Embiid.
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Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

· 4 min read

On Jan. 22, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid made history—and brought Crypto.com with him.

The 7-foot center scored a franchise-record 70 points in the Sixers’ 133-123 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, good for the 13th highest single-game scoring total in NBA history.

The feat was a boon for Embiid and his team, and it was also for one of the team’s corporate partners: Crypto.com, which has been the Sixers’ jersey-patch sponsor since 2021. In photos and highlight clips shared of Embiid’s career night, Crypto.com’s logo was prominently displayed in the left corner of Embiid’s jersey.

Steven Kalifowitz, Crypto.com’s CMO, said the Sixers have been a natural fit for the cryptocurrency trading platform as it has looked to gain greater visibility. The city is known for its passionate sports fans, and Sixers fans are no exception. For the past seven seasons, the team has made the playoffs.

“There’s plenty of teams that no one talks about them, there’s nothing exciting going on,” Kalifowitz said. “The Knicks and the Lakers, they get a lot of tourists who come to watch, but there aren’t many tourists in Philly when the Sixers are playing. It is hard-core Philly fans. The energy in there is insane. Just to be connected to that was a major value.”

Since the 2017–18 season, the NBA has allowed teams to sell jersey-patch sponsorships. The Sixers’ jersey-patch partner was StubHub from 2017–2021 before it signed a six-year jersey-patch partnership with Crypto.com in 2021.

Kalifowitz and his team were particularly drawn to the Cameroon-born Embiid, who has a big personality and massive following. Embiid, who won the NBA MVP award last season and is a seven-time All-Star, has a separate sponsorship agreement with Crypto.com.

“We really, really like Joel, not only as a player, but also as a human being,” Gilad Rodkin, EVP and head of global business development at Crypto.com, said.

After Embiid’s 70-point game in January, Kalifowitz’s team came up with a way to capitalize on the buzz: Crypto.com rolled out a promotion to give away 70 tickets to a Sixers game in February against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The entire plan came together in 24 hours, Owen Morin, SVP of corporate partnerships and innovations for the Sixers, said, an especially quick turnaround.

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“[Crypto.com is] always looking to take advantage of those moments in time,” Morin told Marketing Brew. “What we really value is their willingness to sort of jump on cool moments, be innovative, to think a little bit differently.”

In addition to its partnership with the Sixers, Crypto.com has a presence at Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers home games. In 2021, the Staples Center, the longtime home of the two NBA franchises, was renamed Crypto.com Arena in a deal that will extend until 2041.

The brand’s efforts to stand out among basketball fans seems to be working: Kalifowitz said NBA fans rank about 30%–40% higher than the general public when it comes to awareness, familiarity, and preference of Crypto.com, according to internal research.

“This was very much a brand play of saying, when people are ready, they’re going to choose the brand that they trust and know,” Kalifkowitz said. “One of those elements of building trust is staying power and partnering with other big brands that are willing to share the space with you.”

Crypto.com has also partnered with UFC, and the platform’s slogan, “fortune favors the brave,” is emblazoned on the steps as UFC fighters walk into the octagon. That quickly came to the basketball sphere, too: When the Sixers learned of that tradition, the organization asked for the slogan to be printed on its own walkout tunnel, Kalifkowitz told us.

“When the fans and the people at home see that it’s not just a logo slap, but we partner at multiple levels, it’s just awesome,” he said.

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