ICOs are like the Lady Gaga of the digital world – popular, intriguing, slightly unusual and at times – completely crazy. They’ve the media hype needed to stand out from the crowd yet are simultaneously just doing their job – and what’s that you might ask? Well, to fund new ventures typically within the cryptocurrency world.
But of course, it’s not that simple. ICOs are popping up left, right and centre making marketing an essential part of the ICO journey. The goal is to stand out from the crowd, so let’s take a look at the strangest ICOs with the most quirky and unusual marketing campaigns to date.
Love Star Wars? Perhaps you’re a Trekkie? Then get out your telescope and zoom in on ASTRCoin – a new cryptocurrency ICO reaching for the stars. Literally.
Simply put, ASTRCoin is part of a blockchain-based database system that will be used to record ownership rights for a number of asteroids in orbit around the sun. Yes, you heard right. Parent company Asteroid, Ltd have focussed on the asteroids in our near celestial orbit and are attempting to democratise space one BlockClaim® at a time. ASTRCoins are currently being exchanged for Ethereum.
It all sounds a little bit spaced out, right? Well, this is certainly a STARt-up venture with plenty of sparkle and they’ve not scrimped on their marketing efforts with a whitepaper, video content and a strong social media presence helping to get their space mission across effectively.
Monster Byte INC
If the image of a furry monster chewing on a crypto token comes to mind when you hear Monster Byte – you’re not alone. The name is catchy and memorable (if not a little unusual for a finance-related product) which is always a good start when launching an ICO – after all, competition is fierce so it’s essential to do everything in your power to get noticed.
Their strapline is just as punchy with “play for fun, win for real” giving a nod to their mission: to leverage the power of cryptocurrencies within the online gaming world.
While Monster Byte might sound like some kind of sugar-laden cereal and while you might expect to find some googly-eyed caricature associated with their marketing material, the promotional activity around this ICO is relatively straight laced. The concept speaks for itself and it’s a popular one at that. On 3rd July 2017, the Monster Byte ICO presale sold out in less than five minutes with investors purchasing $207,449.28 worth of Monster Byte tokens with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Waves.
SpankChain is an adult entertainment ecosystem built on the Ethereum network and founded by individuals from both the adult entertainment industry and blockchain development world.
In short, it’s a way for viewers to pay performers directly. This solves two problems: It gets more in the pockets of the performers (vs. in the pockets of the industry intermediaries), and it eliminates the need for banking networks.
As Forbes contributor Zara Stone explains, this second aspect is critical. Porn performers, like those in the cannabis industry, face business banking challenges because banks can refuse to do business with them. That leaves operating on a cash-only basis or opting for far costlier services.
Useless Ethereum Token (UET)
The “let’s make a point” ICO that probably received the most attention in 2017 was that for the Useless Ethereum Token. It billed its ICO as “the world’s first 100% honest Ethereum ICO.”
You really need to read part of the pitch for yourself to get the full effect:
“The UET ICO transparently offers investors no value, so there will be no expectation of gains. No gains means few investors, few investors means few transactions, and few transactions means no Ethereum network lag — not to mention no depressing posts … about people losing all their savings!”
This one started as a hoax, explains Forbes contributor Shannara Johnson. However, soon after its ICO launch, cryptocurrency investors began taking it seriously.
Given the irreverent whitepaper, it’s hard to imagine why. Here’s an excerpt — but the whole thing is worth a read:
“Unlike morally bereft cryptocurrencies, Jesus Coin has the unique advantage of providing global access to Jesus that’s safer and faster than ever before.
• Sin Forgiving — Jesus Coin is negotiating with churches to outsource sin forgiveness.
• Transaction Speeds — Record transaction times between you and God’s son.
• Predicted to Achieve $50bn Market Cap — Predicted by Peter (not the disciple).”
Speaking of religion… Many of 2017’s ICOs were by nonprofits or others seeking (or claiming) to do good.
One nonprofit used its Initial Coin Offering to fund a dApp:
I am by Infobeing (Washington-based nonprofit)
Infobeing is essentially a social dApp. The IAM token, according to the developers, is cryptocurrency “deriving its value from unleashing human potential.” It allows for transactions with the Infobeing social dApp, which matches people for relationships and business and allows users to buy and sell goods and services on the platform.
In a recent Irish Tech News interview, Mark Manney, founding partner, offered the following: “‘I am’ enables people to effortlessly meet, form new relationships and business connections, make contracts, and conduct transactions in freedom. We are unleashing human potential by bringing all these elements together into one decentralized platform.”
CrowdPainting calls itself a decentralized art project. Its goal: “Become the world’s largest collaborative painting, owned and managed by all of its contributors.”
CrowdPainting has been around since 2014. The ICO’s objective was to raise funds that would integrate CrowdPainting to the blockchain so it would “exist autonomously and allow all participating artists to own the canvas forever!”
INK tokens allow artists to paint empty areas and receive a canvas address for their painting. Users can also use INK to upvote and downvote the work of others on the platform.
This is a blockchain-based celebrity management platform. It launched with tennis and football, and it plans to add poker, basketball and hockey players, as well as actors, models and musicians.
At this point, TokenStars seeks to find, fund, and promote talented tennis and football players while they are young. Fans can support the athletes via tokens; the platform also incentivizes scouts and promoters for finding and supporting players.
Privatex bills itself as the “first internet broadband marketplace powered by P2P VPN network on blockchain.” As the description suggests, this may be the least weird IPO of the bunch.
This Ethereum-powered peer-to-peer product takes spare power from its users and gives them access to powerful, distributed proxy software that, according to the developers, would let users bypass China’s “‘Great Firewall” or watch Netflix from another country.
The developers say it’s more secure and less detectable that other VPNs; the goal is to create a network that can’t be blocked without blocking the entire Ethereum blockchain — which is essentially impossible.
Dentacoin, according to developers, is the first blockchain concept designed for the global dental industry. The Ethereum-based platform’s stated goal is to improve the quality of dental care, reduce treatment costs, and build a “global dental community.”
Opinions are mixed.
Digital Trends was less than impressed, comparing it to a grocery store reward point system, or a gift card. “At best, Dentacoin is a misguided attempt to leverage a vogue technology to over complicate systems already in place. At worst, it could wipe the smile off the face of naive investors — and patients.”
On the other hand, CIO Review named it one of the 20 most promising blockchain solutions of 2017.
Ok. Gaming ICOs are incredibly common. But this one seems a little different than most. Think gladiators, who use FAME as currency.
BattleDrome is a gaming platform built on an Ethereum-based Battle Arena. Anyone can create a Warrior that can be traded, trained, equipped, and entered into combat events.
Gladiators gain FAME, and FAME is used to create a gladiator, and to equip them, train them — and heal them when injured. When one is defeated in battle, the gladiator who defeated them takes half of the fame held by the vanquished. To cash out, the owner retires the gladiator.
Let’s end with one of the weirdest: Synthorn — “synthetic rhino horn aphrodisiac tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain.”
In 2017, it tried to raise money via an ICO to “help measure demand for synthetic rhino horn aphrodisiac pills.” The website has disappeared, but the whitepaper lingers.