Bitso gave away nearly $400,000 to Brazilian soccer fans in QR code game

Bitso gave away 1,840,500 Brazilian reals (about $387,000) to Brazilian soccer fans during a recent match, using QR codes printed on players’ sleeves to initiate a game of tag for viewers at home. 

The giveaway was part of a new sports marketing experiment from the Latin America-focused cryptocurrency exchange, which is working to expand its presence in Brazil. 

A ‘game within a game’

During a March 10 soccer game between São Paulo Futebol Clube (SPFC) and the Palmeiras, viewers were invited to play a “game within a game” during the match to win 50 Brazilian reals (now $10.52) from Bitso. The game consisted of trying to “catch” a QR code printed on the sleeve of the SPFC players’ jerseys during the live broadcast of the match.

When viewers “caught” one of the codes, they would be directed to a promotional landing page asking them for some personal details that were used to generate a voucher. Users then had seven days to redeem that voucher so that fiat funds would appear in their Bitso wallet, which they could then use to purchase crypto. 

Bitso calculates that more than 36,800 fans participated in the promotion, estimating that it gave away the equivalent of approximately one bitcoin during every 10 minutes of the game. The company developed the promotion through its in-house creative lab, Bitso’s VP of Marketing José Molina told The Block during a March 16 interview. 

“If you caught the code, you would get 50 reais straight into your Bitso account,” Molina said. 

Crypto sports deals are booming 

It’s hard to think about QR codes in crypto sports ads without having a flashback to the one bouncing around the screen during Coinbase’s minute-long Superbowl ad in February. But Molina says that Bitso’s campaign was more dynamic, requiring viewers to wait for the right camera angle to snag the QR code off of a player’s sleeve as they ran around the field. 

Bitso is just one crypto company that has been focused on striking sponsorship deals and promotions with popular sports teams worldwide, using the broad appeal of these clubs to introduce more people to digital assets in the markets they serve. 

Bitso announced a deal to sponsor SPFC in January, and that same month said it would become the first crypto sponsor for the Mexican National Team (Selección Mexicana de Fútbol). The value of these deals has not been disclosed. The exchange counts about 4 million users of its platform in Latin America, with a presence in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

“We wanted to attach ourselves and to partner with institutions that are trusted by people in the countries where we operate,” Molina said. He explained that Bitso wants to work with partners focused on innovation to help them “bridge the change” coming from using new technologies like crypto.

Finding the right partners 

While crypto sports deals are booming, Molina said that Bitso is not forming these partnerships just to jump on the bandwagon. Nor is it seeking to simply slap its logo on a sports jersey and call it a day.

Instead, the marketing executive said Bitso is focused on being able to “drive educational content” with its partners. Ideally, Bitso would be able to build people’s trust in crypto, while also easing their fears and boosting their curiosity, Molina added.

“When we do some activations — I think that’s industry-wide — there are people that are going to be hesitant, there are people that are going to be dubious about if things could work or not,” Molina said. “And then, we make it work, and then we start building that trust.”

These types of deals are not for everyone, though. Molina said that some institutions Bitso has spoken to about partnerships have not been interested. Others, though, have been “very keen.” 

Meanwhile, largely outside of Latin America, increasingly far-reaching crypto marketing has caused some countries to heighten their scrutiny of s featuring digital assets. The UK, Singapore and Spain are some examples.

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