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Amid the steady bustle of shoppers roaming a SoHo street in Manhattan on Monday morning, a strange sight unfurled: a crowd of protesters carrying signs reading “God Hates NFTs,” “Crypto Is A Sin” and other anti-crypto slogans, while chanting in unison, “N-F-T! Not for me!”
Despite eerily resembling a picket by the hate group Westboro Baptist Church, which often uses the “God Hates” phrasing, the effort was not, in fact, a protest. Rather, it was a marketing stunt staged by streetwear brand The Hundreds.
“We orchestrated the whole thing,” Bobby Kim, a.k.a Bobby Hundreds, told Ad Age. Kim is a co-founder of The Hundreds, which is hosting a week of events in New York for its popular NFT collection, Adam Bomb Squad. The programming coincides with the annual NFT.NYC conference scheduled for June 20-23.
The fake protest was designed to inject some levity into what has otherwise been a tumultuous crypto and NFT marketplace as of late.
A video of the stunt orchestrated by The Hundreds went viral after Kim posted it to Twitter, showing the throng yelling outside a pop-up shop that Adam Bomb Squad was hosting on Grand Street. Kim didn’t provide a caption or an indication of whether the protest was real or fake, enticing people in the comments section to argue. Some proclaimed the brand’s marketing prowess, while more credulous users detested the over-the-top critiques of crypto haters.
Kim has still not revealed on social media that the protest is a stunt. As for the creative process, everything was done in-house: Kim came up with the slogans, and actors were hired to be the protesters. They are scheduled to march tomorrow as well, around 4 p.m. EDT, with all the same fervor and signage, including messages to “Ban Adam Bomb Squad,” and that “Vitalik Is The Anti-Christ” (a nod to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin).
This is not the first time The Hundreds, which was founded in 2003, has used marketing to troll on a grand scale. For last year’s NFT.NYC conference, the brand took out a billboard in Times Square that read “NFTs are a scam,” and printed t-shirts with the slogan.
“I find the line between the skeptics and the devotees to be really interesting within crypto,” Kim said. “Nobody wants to go near this debate.”
The conversation around crypto has intensified lately as the crypto and NFT markets have experienced downswings that have eroded substantial value. Failures of certain tokens and financial protocols have lost billions of users’ money within the past month, stoking some to say the U.S. government should pass legislation on the speculative space.
While the problems surrounding the space are serious, the message at the heart of The Hundreds’ stunt is humorous, intended to provide a laugh for people who probably need one.
“I think people need to just let off the steam,” said Kim. “Let’s not take this so seriously, we’re all having fun. Let’s just be hopeful.”
In this article:
Asa Hiken is a technology reporter covering digital marketing, social media platforms and innovation. A graduate of Northwestern University, he joined Ad Age after writing for Marketing Dive, where he focused on the alcohol space and digital privacy.