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Super Bowl Ad Blitz Tells Americans: Stop Worrying and Just Buy Crypto

By Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

 Firms that offer crypto products had a message for the American public during the Super Bowl: Ignore the haters and start buying.

It was a bold call to action, given that Bitcoin — the biggest digital asset — has tumbled about 40% from a record high in November. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index that tracks the value of a variety of cryptocurrencies has dropped nearly 17% this year.

LeBron James in Crypto.com commercial (Photo from Crypto.com)

Regulators worldwide, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are clamping down on the industry. Just last week, Bloomberg reported that BlockFi Inc. is poised to pay $100 million to settle allegations that it illegally offered a product that pays customers high interest rates to lend out their digital tokens.

Americans are used to hearing a long list of risks rattled off at the end of drug commercials. No such disclaimers were on offer in the financial ads during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Instead, the commercials — featuring a slew of celebrities — played on the consumer’s fear of missing out.

Basketball star LeBron James sits in his childhood bedroom, offering advice to his younger self: “If you want to make history, you got to call your own shots.” That in an ad for Crypto.com, which tweeted the spot with the message, “Fortune favors the brave.” 

Digital currency exchange FTX Trading Ltd., with help from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David, sought to compare doubts about its platform to unfounded skepticism about everything from the moon landing to the American Declaration of Independence. The ad was titled “Don’t Miss Out.”

Trading platform eToro used a remix of the song “Fly Me to the Moon” as the soundtrack for its ad, a pun on meme stock lingo that’s gained traction on Reddit forums like WallStreetBets, and included a shot of a Shiba Inu dog, which has become a mascot for meme coins like Dogecoin and, of course, Shiba Inu coin. 

This time last year, Bitcoin was still near the beginning of its rollercoaster run toward a record high of almost $69,000 that it hit in November and investors were focused on meme stocks in the wake of the trading frenzy over shares of GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. In the 2021 SuperBowl, the most prominent financial industry ad came from Robinhood Markets Inc., which was riding high amid a surge of retail market participation ahead of its initial public offering in July.

Robinhood’s performance in the seven months since offers investors a glimpse into the risks of purchasing an asset based on a television commercial alone while ignoring potential risks. The stock has slumped almost 65% from its IPO price as crypto and stock trading volume dropped from the highs experienced during pandemic lockdowns. Robinhood didn’t advertise during the 2022 Super Bowl.

This year, trouble followed the ad blitz almost immediately on Sunday evening. Rather than a celebrity cameo, Coinbase Global Inc.’s ad featured a bouncing QR code reminiscent of a DVD player screensaver. The code led to an offer of $15 in free Bitcoin for new users who sign up.

The website promptly crashed as Coinbase reported “more traffic than we’ve ever encountered.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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