- Crypto exchange OKX has had a more low-key marketing approach than competitors like Coinbase and FTX.
- New CMO Haider Rafique plans to build the brand, with sponsorships and an upcoming campaign.
- Rafique described his marketing strategy as he aims for OKX to become the “ByteDance of crypto”.
After landing a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with English Premier League club Manchester City, the new chief marketing officer of cryptocurrency exchange OKX is eyeing more sensational deals as he tries to become – in its own words – “the ByteDance of crypto”.
Speaking exclusively to Insider, Haider Rafique, a former ad agency executive who became OKX’s chief marketing officer this month, explained the logic behind this comparison and outlined the marketing strategy he hopes to achieve. .
Chinese tech company ByteDance disrupted the social media space with the launch of TikTok in 2016. Suddenly, a market that was filled with big incumbents like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram faced a new rival that was growing rapidly with its addictive stream of short videos. .
It’s a similar story with crypto exchanges, Rafique said. It’s a crowded and fragmented market where a number of key players reign supreme, such as Coinbase and FTX, both of which currently have valuations over $30 billion and have spent heavily on sports marketing, including 6, $5 million in Super Bowl ads.
OKX, on the other hand, has largely stayed away from the marketing point of view compared to its competitors. The company was founded in 2017 by Chinese businessman Mingxing “Star” Xu, who also launched the OkCoin crypto exchange, which is a separate entity.
Now, after a name change from OKEx to OKX earlier this year, its new CMO is changing course with a marketing strategy that includes new partnerships and a new brand campaign. It’s a push he hopes will propel the brand into the mainstream and perhaps allow OKX to disrupt crypto in the same way ByteDance disrupted social media.
It has now become possible for companies around the world, whether in Europe or Asia, to gain a foothold and become household names, Rafique said.
“Can [OKX] be the ByteDance of crypto in many ways, but do it responsibly?” Rafique said, noting that the focus is not just on hypergrowth of OKX, but also on supporting client.
OKX wants to become a mainstream brand in Western markets
Rafique’s experience is in agencies having spent time working for creative agency Omnicom BBDO and advertising firm WPP J. Walter Thompson, before moving into the crypto space as head of growth for Blockchain.com in 2018 and later as CMO of OkCoin.
Much like his break from the agency world into the crypto space, he said he told his team at OKX to avoid more traditional metrics like traffic, volumes, monthly and daily active users when measuring the success of their marketing efforts. Instead, he wants them to be “obsessed” with clients who grow their portfolio responsibly.
“They know we’re not marketing everything to go to the moon, we’re trying to educate people to think long term, to think responsibly, to think about investing 3% to 5% of their total portfolio in the markets crypto, but not all,” Rafique says. “Don’t be reckless.”
In May, the firm plans to launch a new brand campaign with creative agency BBDO as part of its mission to increase its presence in Western markets. Rafique said 60% of the media mix will be offline, with a combination of print ads, some broadcast assets and other “surprising” placements. The rest will be digital, with half of that budget going to brand advertising and the other half to performance or direct response ads.
“You’re probably used to watching an HSBC ad on the train or in the typical places,” Rafique said. “We’re going to find the places that aren’t typical for doing offline brand ads.”
Rafique is also looking to invest more in partnerships this year by emphasizing four key qualities: data, accuracy, speed and information. Qualities that are also all essential in trading, he says.
“So could it be Formula 1? Absolutely,” Rafique said. “Could it be other sports categories, where they use data insights, along with speed and accuracy to win?”
How ‘chemistry’ helped OKX seal Manchester City deal
The next partnership could be forged quite quickly. After joining OKX, Rafique wasted no time in signing a multimillion-dollar contract with Manchester City, the Premier League’s top British soccer club.
OKX became City’s official cryptocurrency exchange partner in March, which applies to both men’s and women’s teams, as well as esports operations.
Rafique thanks talent agency CAA for helping to secure the partnership. He told the agency he was looking for properties and partners who were on track to reach the top, but who also continued to have a fighting mentality.
“Their culture should be about perseverance, about not giving up, about being the underdog and climbing to the top and taking their time to do it,” Rafique said.
—Manchester City (@ManCity) April 6, 2022
(Manchester City’s recent U-turn can also be attributed to its takeover by billionaire Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group and subsequent spending spree.)
Other crypto companies also bid for Man City’s deal, according to Rafique, who said OKX stood out from the crowd by positioning itself as an organization that wanted to boost the fan experience rather than push fans. down the crypto rabbit hole.
“We think crypto is one of those utilities that people don’t really want to be pushed into,” Rafique said. “When you’re building that plot, you’re going down the rabbit hole yourself and so I think the chemistry was there.”