Brand Strategy Crypto Binance

Binance launches perfume in bewildering attempt to attract more women to crypto


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

March 6, 2024 | 9 min read

The crypto exchange’s outlandish effort to incentivize women with a new perfume is being met with widespread mockery and indignation on social media.

Binance Crypto scent

Binance included AI-generated images of women in an ad for its new Crypto perfume. / Binance

The crypto market has historically been disproportionately populated by men: one 2021 survey conducted by CNBC and fintech firm Acorns found that more than twice as many men (16%) owned crypto than women (7%).

Leading crypto exchange Binance is trying to change that dynamic with a new, female-oriented campaign, the thought process behind which seems to have unfolded approximately along the following lines: There aren’t enough women using Binance! What do women like? Perfume! Perfect: here’s a pleasant scent in a chic glass bottle – that will surely entice more women into crypto trading ... right?

It’s not a joke: The company has debuted a limited-edition perfume, called ’Crypto’ in an effort to attract women into the crypto industry ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8).

The new scent “is blending finance with fragrance,” the company wrote in a press release. It comes in a sleek bottle, the likes of which one might expect to see from a designer brand.

The move is already garnering backlash from hat some people on social media. One X user called it the “most misogynistic tone deaf thing possible.“

Another posted a picture of the all-male corporate board from the recent ‘Barbie‘ movie, a symbol of patriarchal hubris, along with the comment: “The Binance marketing team.“

Some public relations experts, meanwhile, regard the new Binance campaign as a major marketing misstep. "Leading into International Women’s Day, Binance dipped their toes in patronizing and tone deaf messaging by assuming that the only thing that might interest a woman in finance and crypto might be a stereotypical product intended to place value on a woman's appearance and presentation," says Kara Schmiemann, senior director at PR and crisis communications firm Red Banyan. "The criticism [across social media] is valid, as we're living in a day and age where women are recognized as powerful, successful, smart and capable; Binance missed the opportunity to highlight these important aspects of a woman's value."

Binance, of course, sees its strategy in a different light. “Bold, distinctive, and deliberately disruptive, ‘Crypto’ isn't a scent we’re marketing – it’s a message to women that they have a significant role to play in the crypto revolution,“ the company’s chief marketing officer Rachel Conlan said in a statement.

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“Drawing from my own experience of working in the crypto industry,“ she added, “I've seen firsthand the invaluable contributions of the women who dared to step into this realm. We’re here to tell women everywhere: Don't be a bystander. Break those glass ceilings, challenge existing narratives and become part of this digital transformation that’s set to redefine global finance.“

In another bizarre twist – considering the fact that the campaign is geared towards promoting authentic engagement from women in crypto – an ad for the new perfume features AI-generated images of three women. The brand wrote in a statement that the ad, along with the launch of the Crypto scent, “draws inspiration from the conventions of beauty advertising, and is simultaneously intended to challenge the norm and defy existing perceptions around crypto.”

The perfume – which is being showcased at a series of company pop-ups and is not actually for sale – is part of a campaign from Binance which aims to educate prospective female customers about the basics of crypto trading.

The company is giving away giving $25 in Tether stablecoin to the first 5,000 women who complete an introductory course, called ‘Crypto is Yours,‘ on Binance Academy, an online resource designed to provide education about the crypto industry. In addition to its pop-up series, it‘s also launching a social media campaign in an effort to promote the Crypto scent and connect with a broader female audience.

“It's time to ensure no woman is left behind in this financial revolution,” Conlan said in a statement.

Binance became the largest crypto exchange in the world following the 2022 implosion of its former competitor, FTX. It has since been dogged by a handful of serious legal and PR problems.

Last November, its founder and chief executive, Changpeng Zhao, pled guilty to charges of money laundering and violations of international sanctions, prompting him to step down. The company agreed to settle charges of financial misconduct from the US Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission by paying the agencies more than $4bn.

Additionally, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit in June against Binance.US – the company's US branch which operates at a separate legal entity – leading to a lay-off of two-thirds of its workforce and cutting its trading revenues by around 75%. (A Binance spokesperson pointed out to The Drum that the company's overall trading revenues in March have been their highest since August.)

Given the considerable amount of criticism that it's already generated on social media, Binance's new perfume campaign is unlikely to do the brand's already damage reputation any favors. But Tim O'Brien, founder of PR firm O'Brien Communications and author of "The Essential Crisis Communications Plan: A Crisis Management Process That Fits Your Culture" offers a silver lining for Binance. "The good news for the brand is that since women are not presently a majority of its customer base, it doesn’t appear to have a lot to lose by this marketing misfire," he says. "But going forward, its marketing team should pay close attention to the negative feedback they received here ... this is all very good market intelligence for future efforts, but only if the brand listens. They should use this as a starting point before conducting more formal research to find out why women have not historically been as active in crypto and what could motivate them to be more active in the future."

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