Death for the ‘Highest Crypto’: ASKfm PR stunt gone terribly wrong


New details emerged on the tragic ascent on mount Everest, performed as a PR stunt for Ask.Fm’s crypto currency (ASKT).

The famous Ukrainian mountaineer Taras Pozdnii, together with his two friends Dmytri Semerenko and Roman Gorodechnii, conquered Everest in May. This extreme journey to the highest peak of the world (8848 meters) was accomplished with great adversities. They were especially intense during the descent: Taras has got frostbite of his arm and leg, his mask was blown off by a strong wind. Snow blindness began. Taras could walk 20-30 meters with his eyes open only for 20 seconds. At an altitude of about 7 km Ukrainian mountaineers were stuck. There were three of them, and they just had one sleeping bag and a tent. As a result, climbers managed to return to the camp – and then rescue helicopter arrived. But not everyone managed to escape on a helicopter. One of the accompanying Sherpas died in the mountains.

Taras Pozdnii told Ukrainian website for travelers how it happened:

We all were on top, we climbed almost simultaneously. We started the descent, because the weather got worse. We went forward. The Sherpas lagged somewhere, and one of them just did not come to the fourth camp, went missing and was never found. Most likely, he fell from the top somewhere out there. But what really happened? There is no information.”

All the Sherpas that accompany the groups sign a contract at the beginning of the climbing season. Everybody is insured. In case of death, the family is paid 15 thousand dollars. In addition, in the case of Lam Babu (name of deceased Sherpa), his family will receive 5 thousand dollars from the “trade union”, and his children will be taught for free. Taras and his group also allocated $1,200 to the Lam Babu family as a bonus summit. The only ones who did not say a word about helping the family of the deceased was the actual organizers of the ascent – company ASKfm. This social network decided to launch its crypto currency – ASKT tokens. As a PR campain, the Ukrainians were offered to raise the symbolic tokens to Everest. Thus, the idea of ​​company’s PR managers is that their crypto-product will be the “highest (literally) on the Earth”.

On May 17, a video with the conquest of Everest, wonderful rescue of Ukrainian climbers and, of course, big promo of ASKfm appeared on Youtube. Nothing was said about the Sherpa’s death, as this could damage the advertising company.

But on May 27, the Financial Times told a real story that happened on Everest with Ukrainian mountaineers and Nepalese Sherpa. ASKfm has been heavily criticized. For the sake of advertising its crypto-currency ASKT, the company hired Ukrainians, and virtual tokens raised on Everest cost a person’s life.

The more surprising was the reaction of ASKfm management. According to the head of the company Maxim Tsarik, the critical reaction from the media is not due to the fact that the expedition with the Sherpas and Ukrainians on Everest doesn’t end well, but because of the skepticism that many are experiencing for crypto currency in general. At the same time he called the desire to risk conquering the highest peak of the Earth in order to get tokens on it “just a joke.” Didn’t the Ukrainians and Nepalese pay too dearly for it?

The key factor for the success of the ICO of ASKfm is s a fierce PR and advertising. ASKfm is owned by Noosphere Ventures founded by Max Polyakov since 2016. Did the company act correctly while omitting to mention the tragedy unfolded during the advertising campaign? Why did the organizers of the ascent refuse to give the family some compensation? Is the cost of a four-minute commercial for cryptocurrencies commensurate with a person’s life?

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