There was a lot of hype around the collection of crypto advertisements scheduled to run during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The ad buys represented the largest major push by cryptocurrency exchanges to draw mainstream eyes and win over a skeptical populace to the ideals of Web3, even if a good chunk of them still don’t have a clear understanding of how the blockchain or crypto markets operate.
This was crypto’s chance to educate those with doubts, address the unique security and consumer protection issues facing these markets and do their best to assuage the fears and qualms of those that watched Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plunge in value just a few weeks ago. Those are hard asks for a 30-60 second block of time, but not wholly impossible.
What we got in reality was a cringeworthy mix of celebrity endorsements, memes, copious references to crypto evangelist jargon and a giant, validating thumbs-up (literally) to those already holding digital wallets.
FTX brought in Larry David to embody skeptics and equate crypto, the wheel and the toilet in their ability to push society forward. Lebron James starred alongside a terribly-rendered CGI version of his 18-year-old self as the latest famous voice to encourage viewers to be brave and hop onto Crypto.com.
Trading platform eToro flew a giant Like button constructed of human beings “to the moon.” Coinbase adapted the well-known DVD screen saver with a QR code, which Meta was pretty quick to copy on Twitter, offering $15 in Bitcoin to new users.
Super Bowl ads are almost always style above substance, so there is little surprise that crypto’s debut on the largest advertising stage continued that trend. But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing that major crypto exchanges continued to ignore the issues preventing wide-scale confidence in any form of large-scale crypto adoption.
Ultimately all that Sunday’s ad blitz accomplished was platforming more people on crypto exchanges with a fractional amount of Bitcoin that will help bring up the coin’s value after its roller coaster January. They leaned into their own volatility, rewarding those already bought in with a virtual high-five and giving them a $7-14 million dollar box seat to look down on those who reserve caution and have legitimate questions about the environmental and financial damage present throughout crypto’s existence.
But who wants to talk about systemic issues when you can throw NFTs on the halftime show and chuckle at Larry David’s amalgamation of crypto skeptics?