May 20 • 35M

Pod: Hollywood Cryptocalypse!

New York Times' Tiffany Hsu called the celebrities who shilled for crypto before the crash. She tells us what happened

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Tatiana Siegel
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TALES FROM THE CRYPTO Clockwise from top left, Kate Hudson, Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon and Larry David are part of the wave of celebrities who promoted crypto. (Illustration by Haley Kluge; Hudson: Rich Fury/Getty Images; Damon: Crypto.com; Witherspoon: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Image; David: FTX + dentsuMB)

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Today’s Ankler Hot Seat podcast welcomes guest Tiffany Hsu, a New York Times reporter who covers media for the business desk, focusing on advertising and marketing. On today’s episode, Hsu joins hosts Janice Min, Tatiana Siegel and Ankler contributing editor Peter Kiefer to discuss her story about a slew of A-list stars from Matt Damon to Reese Witherspoon to LeBron James who were hyping crypto and now have gone very very silent. In the weeks since crypto has taken a nosedive and laypeople have lost their life savings, Hsu began reaching out to all those influential celebrities who appeared in Super Bowl commercials and took to social media to hawk the risky investment to see if they had any regrets.

Hsu was met with a lot of squirmy publicists or deafening silence. Crickets.

“I either got no response or I got responses that were along the lines of, ‘Oh, sorry, my client's busy and can't talk about this.’ Or I would get a response like, ‘Oh, my client was just in it to make a commercial. My client isn't an expert in this field.”

She breaks down why celebrities posing as investment gurus created a dangerous paradigm.

“If you're someone sitting at home and you've seen Matt Damon's movies, you're like, ‘Oh my God, it's Jason Bourne! Like this guy is so cool,’” Hsu says. “Ergo, if he's cool, then everything he does must be cool. So if he's, if he's doing the crypto thing, crypto must also be cool. So there's this fallacy that happens with all celebrity marketing, but really, especially with crypto marketing, where people think celebrities have a lot of money, they must know what to do with that money. So if they're giving me financial advice, it must be good financial advice.”

Kiefer, who also recently tackled the adjacent subject of NFTs and the race to remake Hollywood, noted that on some of the crypto Reddit chat boards he has perused in the wake of the crash, “there was all sorts of sort of people threatening to commit suicide or harm themselves.”

There are real people out there hurting, indeed.

Meanwhile, Siegel, who joined the podcast from Cannes, discusses the definitely-not-cheap happenings at the Top Gun: Maverick premiere (think fighter jets whizzing over the Mediterranean to welcome Tom Cruise) as well as the latest video appearance from embattled Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky at an A-list event. “We will win this war,” he told the cinephile crowd.

She also reveals why Zelensky didn’t give those fighting words at the Oscars, as had been rumored to happen. Siegel learned that Zelensky wanted to appear, but the Academy nixed the idea. “They said, no. They wanted to remain apolitical,” Siegel notes.

Listen and subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app, and remember to subscribe to The Ankler.

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