“All the crypto exchanges have decided not to advertise in IPL,” Nischal Shetty, chief executive of crypto exchange WazirX told ET through a direct message on Twitter.
“As an industry, we are working to ensure we have strict guidelines for responsible advertisement before we get into IPL ads again,” he added.
The decision was taken by the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), which has more than two dozen crypto exchanges and crypto-related companies as members, Shetty said. BACC is part of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
Crypto exchanges had spent Rs 40 crore on TV ads in IPL 2021.
This advertising blitzkrieg in India’s most lucrative sporting event as well as during the cricket World Cup resulted in volumes on these digital exchanges swelling by up to four times and made cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum household names among crypto investors.
The advertisement campaigns, however, came under the scanner of regulators and government agencies. The government is currently working on a Bill to regulate the cryptocurrency market.
“Yes, we are not doing it (advertising in IPL this year),” said a top executive of another crypto exchange, asking not to be named. “The reason is we are at a point when regulations are coming; the government is working on a Bill, and we don’t want to go out and make a huge noise there.”
CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX did not comment.
Star Sports, which currently holds the TV and broadcast rights to the IPL, did not respond to an email.
According to media buying executives, Disney Star Network is likely to cross Rs 5,000 crore in total ad revenues this year, with 90% of inventory already sold. The IPL is returning to India after a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, and two new teams – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants.
“Given the current situation, it may be better for crypto exchanges to stay low-profile in their advertising on the IPL since the T20 tournament has such huge and high-profile appeal and reach,” said Sam Balsara, chairman of diversified media and advertising group Madison World. “Besides, IPL has enough advertisers already.”
Last month, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory industry body, issued guidelines for advertising and promotion of virtual digital assets (VDA) and services, including crypto and non-fungible token (NFT) products.
ASCI said this would be applicable to all virtual digital asset-related ads released on or after April 1 this year.
The industry body also noted that various ads released by category players do not adequately disclose risks associated with such products.
According to the guidelines, ads for VDA products and exchanges must carry the disclaimer that “crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”
The disclaimer must be prominent and unmissable by an average consumer, with a voiceover accompanying the disclaimer in text which should be at a normal speaking pace and not hurried, as per the guidelines.
In social media posts, too, such a disclaimer must be carried in both the caption as well as any picture or video attachments, upfront at the beginning of the post.
The guidelines also prohibit VDAs from using the words “currency”, “securities”, “custodian” and “depositories” in their advertising.
Every advertisement for VDA products must clearly give out the name of the advertiser and provide an easy way to contact them.
No ads shall contain statements that promise or guarantee future increase in profits, and nothing in the ads should downplay the risks associated with the category.
Further, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in VDA advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about claims made in the ads so as to not mislead consumers, the guidelines stated.
“Advertising of virtual digital assets and services needs specific guidance. There is a need to make consumers aware of the risks and ask them to proceed with caution,” ASCI chairman Subhash Kamath had said at the time.