Idris Elba pitches blockchain company Stellar as celebrity crypto advertising returns

Elba stars in a dramatic brand film about using blockchain as a force for good

Published On
Sep 12, 2023
Idris Elba holding a pen in Stellar's new short film

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If you thought star-studded crypto advertising was a thing of the past, we’ve got news for you.

Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), a nonprofit supporting the Stellar blockchain, has released a new campaign with actor Idris Elba, dubbed “Where blockchain meets the real world.” The effort, part of a larger brand refresh, is headlined by a three-minute film narrated by and starring Elba, in which blockchain is presented as a force for good.

The spot, created with agency Popcorn Brain, depicts several instances of financial insecurity, including an elderly man storing bills in his wall, a street vendor struggling to send money abroad and a mother in a war-torn country worrying about her children’s futures.


As the dramatic scenes roll on, Elba weaves together a monologue about inequality, referencing his own personal struggle and the value that opportunity had in enabling him to be successful. The narration is just as powerful as the visuals, yet what any of this has to do with blockchain is hardly stated.

Elba never uses the word “blockchain,” or any crypto-related term, and only references the technology in an oblique way. For example, he says, “We can bring balance to an imbalanced world by recognizing that if ideas are borderless, opportunity should be too.” The concept of a borderless payment system is popular among crypto proponents.

Also familiar in crypto circles is using financial inclusion as a selling point. This is because blockchain, in theory, really can afford a workaround for those mired in unstable banking situations. In reality, however, the volatility of cryptocurrency has prevented much of this upside, resulting in higher transaction fees and little security.

The Brookings Institute has associated crypto’s inclusivity fixation with the practice of predatory inclusion, in which marginalized communities gain access to goods or services that actually end up hurting them in the long run.

Despite this, messaging related to financial inclusion has been increasingly adopted by crypto players as fallout from FTX has pressured them to demonstrate trustworthiness. Both Coinbase and OKX have released campaigns this year around creating a better financial system—a far cry from previous marketing that felt more boastful and star-powered than mission-focused.

Now, Stellar Development Foundation is integrating both approaches to fuel a brand refresh focused around empowering builders, which replaced the celestial-themed branding of Stellar’s past. The motive, according to a blog post from SDF’s chief marketer, was a recognition that it “was time to come down to Earth.”

SDF will promote the campaign and refresh on digital and social channels. 


Sep 12, 2023
Client :
Stellar Development Foundation
Agency :
Popcorn Brain

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