- 2022 saw major crypto exchanges spend millions on Super Bowl ads.
- Some, like FTX’s ad featuring Larry David, aged very poorly.
- Since then, their tokens and shares have all posted double-digit losses, while FTX went bankrupt.
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events in the US, attracting millions of TV viewers every year. It also attracts brands willing to spend millions of dollars for minutes on screen. Brands spend a fortune on production every year to get the best bang for their buck. Many viewers tune in for the ads rather than the sports.
This year, viewers won’t see a repeat of the last year’s “Crypto Bowl,” when crypto exchanges dominated the prestigious ad space. Crypto.com, FTX, and Coinbase were among the companies that paid upwards of $6.5 million for ad spots.
The disastrous 2022 saw crypto prices drop and trading volumes collapse. Exchanges, which take a fee from each transaction, profited enormously from the boom in 2021. That’s why they had the money to spend on ads.
However, crypto exchanges were also among the biggest losers in 2022. This makes this year’s crypto-free Super Bowl a great time to look back and see how the exchanges have done since then.
FTX – ‘Yeah, I Don’t Think So’
FTX’s 2022 Super Bowl ad has to be one of the best and the most disastrous ads ever. The ad features actor and comedian Larry David in different historical scenarios. Each time, David would criticize an important invention, from the wheel to electricity.
The ad plays into David’s cynical persona, already established in shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. This was one of the reasons why the ad worked so well. The best part is that the ad ends with David expressing the same skepticism toward FTX.
When told about FTX as a “safe and easy way to get into crypto,” Larry said, “Yeah, I don’t think so. And I’m never wrong about this stuff. Never.”
From a comedy perspective, the ad aged like fine wine. However, users that got into FTX since then are probably not laughing.
The exchange went bankrupt in November 2022. What’s worse, FTX users saw their funds frozen, not knowing whether they would get them back.
The ad’s tagline was “don’t miss out,” which probably should have been a red flag from the start. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a well-documented phenomenon in investing and marketing.
FOMO makes people make rash decisions that often turn out to be wrong in the long run. Decisions such as putting money in FTX or buying its stock or token.
As FTX went bankrupt, its shares went to zero. However, FTX’s native token (FTT) is still, for some inexplicable reason, trading at $1.81.
The token traded at $44.87 on Feb 14, 2022, the day of the super bowl. This means that investors that bought FTT that day and held it lost 96% on their investment. It looks like Larry was right all along.
Crypto.com – Does Fortune Really Favor the Brave?
In 2022, Crypto.com was an up-and-comer, aggressively fighting for market share. The exchange spent millions on partnerships with sports teams and celebrities. This included $700 million to rename the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the Crypto.com Arena.
The aggressive marketing outreach wouldn’t have been complete without a Super Bowl ad. The minute-long ad saw brand ambassador Matt Damon tell a story about people that made history. They were people that dared to take a risk, Damon suggested. As the slogan says: “Fortune favors the brave.”
Crypto.com’s slogan is not as bad as FTX’s “Don’t miss out” tagline. However, it highlights the excessive risk-taking in the crypto space. As it turns out, bravery alone is not enough to make sound investment decisions.
Crypto.com is a private company, meaning its shares are unavailable to the public. As such, it’s not as easy to track its performance.
However, the exchange has a native token: Cronos (CRO). On the day of the Super Bowl 2022, the token closed at $0.47. Currently, CRO is trading at $0.08167, which is an 83% drop year to date. CRO beat FTT in that period, but this probably won’t console investors that bought it last year.
Still, Crypto.com could be making a comeback. The exchange is still investing significant capital in outreach, including being one of the partners of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Coinbase QR-Code Ad that Crashed Its App
Unlike other major crypto players, Coinbase took a slightly different approach. Its minute-long Super Bowl ad featured nothing but a QR code bouncing across the screen. When users scanned it, the code redirected them to an offer of $15 in Bitcoin for signing up to Coinbase.
Because of its unique approach, the Coinbase ad attracted a lot of attention. In fact, the ad almost worked too well. Because of so many new visitors, the Coinbase app crashed. This left many users that scanned the code with a broken link.
However, the media covered the ad in the following days, and people continued talking about it. This is why the ad ultimately succeeded despite the technical issues.
Still, despite growing its user base, Coinbase’s profits tanked in 2022. Falling crypto values made for low trading volumes. This, in turn, ate into Coinbase’s profits.
Coinbase stock traded at $195.25 the day their super bowl ad went live. Currently, its stock is at $63.90, a 67% drop in that period. Unlike other crypto exchanges, Coinbase doesn’t have its native token. However, it has a stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC).
USDC’s market cap was $52.5 billion when the ad dropped. Since then, it dropped to $40 billion, reflecting the relatively better performance of stablecoins compared to other tokens.
Crypto and Super Bowl: Lessons for the Future?
All crypto companies that ran Super Bowl ads have posted major losses since. However, it appears that exchanges have learned their lesson. This is likely why there are no crypto Super Bowl ads this year.
The key takeaway is that crypto markets remain very volatile, and investors should be cautious. Moreover, lavish spending shows that not even crypto giants are immune to the hype.
Crypto and blockchain tech has the potential to revolutionize whole industries. However, it’s still important not to get too caught up in the hype. Sometimes, we should be cynical like Larry.
On the Flipside
- Super Bowl ads also mirrored the 2000s dot com bubble. One of the companies that ran ads that year was Pets.com. The since-bankrupt company became a poster child for the irrational valuations of early internet companies.
- Larry David became a target of a class-action lawsuit for promoting FTX in its ad.
Why You Should Care
Crypto Super Bowl ads illustrate that even the biggest players in the space are vulnerable to hype.