It’s only been a few days since Oscar Mayer launched its horrendous “Bacoin” ad campaign, and a hero has come along in an attempt to kill it for good. Kirk Steele started a cryptocurrency called “Bacoin” a few years ago, and now he wants Oscar Mayer to cease-and-desist in conducting this viral travesty of a promotion.
If you’re unfamiliar with Oscar Mayer’s Bacoin campaign, the concept is that a douchey bitcoin guy named Keith Sizzle is pitching the next big thing in the blockchain boom. It’s called Bacoin and it’s backed by bacon. It’s not a real cryptocurrency; the official rules outline the promotion as a contest in which you can win some free bacon. Unfortunately for Oscar Mayer, a real man named Kirk Steele actually developed a real cryptocurrency called Bacoin back in 2014. Motherboard published an interview with Steele on Thursday, and the ahead-of-his-time developer said he wants Oscar Mayer to end the campaign immediately.
Steele lives in Michigan and works in IT. According to his Twitter bio, he likes to work on “fun community projects,” and he told Motherboard that he was actually excited about Oscar Mayer’s campaign until he realized it wasn’t staying true to the mission of the original Bacoin. Specifically, he was disappointed that there appears to be no real blockchain element to it. “It’s just taking the buzzwords as a tool for corporate promotion and not actually contributing anywhere in the crypto scene.” Steele explained his initial concept to Gizmodo over email:
Bacoin in it’s original form was to be similar to meme status as
Dogecoin. The latest version of Bacoin was going to avoid SEC scrutiny
by being given away for free in an airdrop format. The token would be
used as a marketing tool for the meat industry and a rewards program
for customers that bought meat or other types of products from the
specific company that was partnered with. I did reach out to a few
local distributors but never heard back.
Steele put the project on hiatus in 2014 while he worked to redevelop it. He told us that he likes to contribute to Monero development these days and still plays with his bacon project. “Pushing out the coins was harder and more expensive than I thought,” he explained.
He told Motherboard, “I thought [Bacoin] would be a nice way to get a local company in Michigan some coverage and have some fun with it.” Unfortunately, he could never get any local meat companies to see the promotional potential of his project. In the end, the biggest bacon company around saw the project’s marketing potential.
Just to recap: Steel made a real cryptocurrency called Bacoin, he has the same initials as the fake Oscar Mayer spokesman, and his token was intended to promote meat companies.
On April 30th, Steel sent Oscar Mayer’s parent company a cease-and-desist letter and tweeted it at the fictional Bacoin spokesman. He told us that he still hasn’t discussed the matter with the company. “I’ve been in touch with some local copyright lawyers to see if I have a case,” he said. Though, he admitted to Motherboard that he doesn’t have much money for a lawyer and would probably be willing to drop the whole thing for a year’s supply of bacon. Responding to our request for comment, a spokesperson for Oscar Mayer’s parent company told us: “We are confident in the uniqueness of our Oscar Mayer Bacoin promotion. We are always happy to engage with people over the love of bacon. We have reached out to him.”
When we asked Steele if he’d be interested in working with Oscar Mayer on developing his true vision of Bacoin, he said he’d like “to be a part of something that really took advantage of what the technology has to offer.” But, “at this point, I don’t think Oscar Mayer would be open to creating, distributing or taking part of the real crypto industry and would rather poke fun at what could be an extraordinary venture.”
UPDATE: In an email to Gizmodo, Steele said that he was able to reach a compromise with Oscar Mayer’s representatives. Steele writes:
“Heard back from Oscar Mayer, it was a good talk. They are making a donation in mine and their name to the Geek Group which has sessions related to cryptocurrency and other awesome building activities. They are also sending the Weinermobile to my house for my kids’ entertainment and supplying me with some free bacon as well.
I am happy that the promotion of education in cryptocurrency was for
a local company in my area and believe they took to heart the
importance of what cryptocurrency means to me.”