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CCI, Cathie Wood, and Jack Dorsey Host “The ₿ Word: How Institutions Can Embrace Bitcoin”

The ₿ Word:
July 21, 2021

Elon Musk presenting during a virtual bitcoin event

The event

  • 1 day, 8 hours
  • 45 presenters, 7 featured speakers
  • 19 sessions: 18 pre-recorded, 1 live
  • 5 partners

The success

  • 5M+ views across web, social, and cable-broadcast channels
  • #3 top trending topic on Twitter
  • 210k+ unique custom registrations
  • 850k+ page views on Brandlive—and counting

The challenge

Bring together 45 cryptocurrency experts—and three big-name speakers— into a cohesive, compelling event—and keep the convo going for the long term.

The solution

A true partnership, from pre-production through post-event strategy, with Brandlive’s expert team for a fully branded experience at scale.

The impact

A TV-quality event—picked up and covered by CNBC—with smooth-sailing production and viral engagement that keeps spreading.

Leading the discourse on disruption

Brandlive was chosen to host and stream “The ₿ Word,” a Crypto Council for Innovation (CCI) initiative co-hosted by ARK Invest, Square, Inc., and Paradigm. The goal: to demystify and destigmatize Bitcoin and explain how institutions can embrace it—with a content-packed one-day event.

Matt Huang, co-founder of Paradigm, a founding member of CCI, said, “Bitcoin is a positive force in the world because it increases financial access and opportunity, but the complexity that makes its network so powerful also makes it difficult to understand at first. We hope this initiative helps the investment community and policymakers better understand how transformative a moment we’re in right now.”

Presenters and sessions for the B-Word virtual event

If we had to buy in PR what we achieved with The ₿ Word—going viral, CNBC re-broadcasts, and overall reach—it would be equivalent to spending $171M.

-Sebastian Benkert, CMO, ARK Invest

Challenges solved

  1. A busy hive made calm and collected.

    The ₿ Word packed 45 presenters into its one-day event—including 18 pre-recorded sessions and one live presentation. Leveraging Greenroom made this seemingly complex undertaking seamless. Sebastian Benkert, ARK Invest CMO, said, “It couldn’t have gone easier in terms of planning the pre-recorded segments for 45 speakers, all of whom were the top in the industry—it’s not easy to get time with them, and there’s lots of pre-and post production required.”

    For the live session featuring Jack Dorsey, Cathie Wood, and Elon Musk, the power of Greenrom was key. Philips said, “A concern with celebrities is making sure they’re present at tech checks and ready to go live. With The ₿ Word, it all came together extremely well. There was no scrambling around.”

    “In getting ready for the pre-records, as well as getting the speakers ready, we worked in real time as a team,” Benkert explained. “We had weekly check-in meetings and constant communication—and templates were updated live, in real time. It made the process between our teams seamless, and it’s a testament to the systems in place.”

  2. A customized, cohesive experience.

    Highlighting presenters and stakeholder sponsors within a cohesive audience experience was crucial. The Brandlive Events platform is purpose-built to be a branded channel, with no mention of Brandlive itself on it. Brandlive’s design team custom-built a comprehensive website to ensure The ₿ Word took center stage as its own brand.

    Benkert said, “On the design side, Brand Designer Macarena Costa developed all event branding, as well as the visual and promotional elements. She even created The ₿ Word logo. The Brandlive design team, headed up by Creative Director Ben Drake, created landing pages, a one-pager, even the run of show. And they created social posts.”

    The unified design allowed every presenter to shine without overshadowing the overarching event branding. Benkert said, “Macarena did a fabulous job with design options and shared templates. When Bitcoin developers and presenters were adding slides, we were able to ensure brand consistency. That cohesive look was vital to our overall success.”

    It was a must that attendees knew they were watching The ₿ Word event, not just another pre-recorded meeting. “To do that,” Drake explained, “we focused on tying The ₿ Word’s overall theme to the on-screen graphics and animation within the segments. We also used customizable lower thirds and chapter cards between segments to help tie in the brand even more.”

  3. Framing the conversation with curated content.

    Before the event, Cathie Wood, founder, CEO, and CIO of ARK Invest said, “We are proud to co-host the launch of ‘The ₿ Word’. As the next wave of adopters embrace Bitcoin, we believe stakeholders must play an active role in supporting and sustaining the network.”

    To that end, content was key. Lisa Dodd, ARK Invest’s Head of Communications and PR, explained, “We wanted to create a grounded series that provided education and discussion around Bitcoin, without the hype.”

    Throughout the day, the content itself remained the focus of the event—the branded site put the focus on each curated session topic, to the exclusion of anything else. Session topics were developed by leading specialists in each sub-field of the fast-evolving world of cryptocurrency.

    Dodd explained, “We brought together a community of top thought leaders to uncover what was most misunderstood about bitcoin. Our experts led the charge, which is a big part of the reason guests found the topics, the discussions, and the dynamic points of view so engaging. Our experts created different tracks, and each subtopic was developed with even more SME input.”

    In addition, The ₿ Word provided the setting for discussion among those in different “bitcoin camps.” Bitcoin purists, involved early in Bitcoin history, were in dialogue with institutional investors, newer to it. Within the crypto environment of today, this represents a unique mix of people talking to each other.

    Differences in theories and opinion abounded. “Elon Musk was a wonderful addition to The ₿ Word. Even though, and maybe especially because, he had a different point of view on bitcoin than we had,” Dodd pointed out. “This was a great opportunity to address and debate our different views.” Within the branded event framework, those lively discussions had room to play out while keeping the audience engaged and focused.

Brandlive just gets us. Which is why we’re in talks for an ongoing partnership.

-Sebastian Benkert, CMO, ARK Invest
Livestream of a virtual session called "Bitcoin as a Tool for Economic Empowerment"

Big wins

  1. A content mix with TV-quality production values.

    Brandlive team put special focus on making pre-recorded content equally as dynamic and engaging as the live content. “The ‘mix of live and pre-recorded’ aspect of virtual events is still being defined,” Drake explained. “The only thing we have to model after is live broadcast experiences, like sports. When you think of watching a live game on TV, the experience feels like a whole cohesive event, with a beginning, middle, and end.”

    Replicating that experience for The ₿ Word was at the core of Brandlive’s approach. As Drake explained, “It’s about adding in those extra things to tie it all together, make it feel like a narrative. For example, a big part of the event experience is the build-up. That’s why we do the countdown clock: it tells guests that something really special is coming. Then, throughout the full-day event, b-roll clips are interspersed, shots are changed up, and we add variety within the sessions that keep things unpredictable.”

    Ultimately, the live segment of The ₿ Word was broadcast on CNBC. Drake reflected: “The fact that they streamed it and the content mirrored the broadcast quality of CNBC is a win.”

Social media activity generated from the B-Word virtual event
  1. A scalable platform to meet $171M worth of buzz.

    “We knew our featured speakers would draw massive media coverage,” Benkert said, “and the Brandlive team knew it too. We’d seen that level of success with previous events, and they built the event to accommodate high volume.”

    So when The ₿ Word went viral even before the event date, there was little surprise—and much celebration. Benkert said, “If we had to buy in PR what we achieved with The ₿ Word—going viral, CNBC re-broadcasts, and overall reach—we could assume an equivalent advertising value of over $170M.”

    The hashtag #thebword was the number three top trending topic on Twitter, further popularized by Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey’s interaction in pre-event tweet threads. CNBC even ran an article almost a full month ahead of the event itself.

    The Brandlive side dev team built with this scale in mind, ensuring a smooth registration process and easy accessibility. Phillips said, “We knew there was already a massive crypto audience. With The ₿ Word, we wanted to extend the experience to people new to crypto. Lots of attendees were drawn in by Elon Musk, and registration hit the roof the first time he and Jack Dorsey had a public Twitter conversation. Plus, there were so many simulcasts across social channels—those aren’t accounted for in the official registration numbers.”

    Benkert said, “We definitely exceeded our goals. After livestreams and shares across several channels, the estimated reach is over five million. Given the reach, the brand value, the sheer size and success of this event, we’re confident that we reached all our target audiences, including institutional.”

  2. Keeping the convo going.

    Beyond all the hubbub, The ₿ Word had a palpable impact on the crypto landscape.

    Before the event in a CCI press release, Jack Dorsey, chairman, co-founder, and CEO of Square, Inc., said, “As companies and institutions like us are getting into Bitcoin, we all need to better understand how to put the community first and how we may help it thrive, even when it appears to be against our own interests. Doing so will benefit all over the long-term.”

    As thrilled as the team was about the immediate buzz, they wanted The ₿ Word to keep the conversation going long-term—and it certainly has. For example, rapper Busta Rhymes tweeted about his interest in Bitcoin after the event, which further extended the news coverage—including articles chronicling his holdings and interest in being paid in the currency.

    “We wanted to create something that could be repurposed down the line,” Dodd said, and the Brandlive team kept that in mind from the get-go, proposing that The ₿ Word function as a living virtual experience—an on-demand library of content for a wider investor community.

    Phillips said, “The team liked that The ₿ Word wasn’t going to be a ‘one and done.’ They were featuring big-name speakers and high-quality content, for a resource hub that audiences would come back to again and again.”

    “Today, CCI and its co-hosts continue to utilize the site that the Brandlive team created for The ₿ Word,” Dodd said—enabling a more informed discussion about the role Bitcoin can serve for institutions across the globe.

  3. End-to-end partnership for The ₿ Word and beyond.

    From the start of The ₿ Word, Brandlive was a true partner, building the event from the ground up with content, run of show, branding, pre-production, and more.

    “The Brandlive dev and design teams built it all—the whole ₿ Word experience,” said Benkert. “On the dev side, it was built to serve the expected high traffic—good thing because we went viral. The Brandlive team was able to accommodate everything we needed. On previous events, they had been a host and producer, and helped with the design and run of show. This time around, Brandlive was our comprehensive virtual events agency.”

    “It’s very hard for us to find partners with whom we are so aligned; one that actually gives us creative ideas,” Dodd reflected. “From pre- to post-production, everyone at Brandlive was truly a partner. From initial planning talks all the way to being live in the Greenroom, the Brandlive team knew what we needed and created it. Brandlive made our job easier producing all the pre-recorded sessions. Throughout the process, comms could not have been better.”

It’s very hard for us to find partners with whom we are so aligned; one that actually gives us creative ideas. From pre- to post-production, everyone at Brandlive was truly a partner.

-Lisa Dodd, Head of Communications and PR, ARK Invest

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