Industry titans resist ad play



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As preparations for Super Bowl LVIII go into full swing, cryptocurrency companies are reportedly scaling back on exposure, with a majority opting out of advertising during the much-anticipated event.

According to a report by Fox Business journalist Eleanor Terrett, the clash between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas will have very little crypto presence, with the inflated costs of Super Bowl commercials ($7 million for 30 seconds) leading firms in the space to reassess how they deploy their marketing budgets.

Terrett revealed that heavyweights in the U.S. crypto exchange market like Kraken, will not be vying for airtime in the event this year.

Per her report, Kraken’s chief marketing officer, Mayur Gupta, has stated that the company’s approach is pivoting towards a more global audience, advocating for a movement that values financial liberty and inclusivity, rather than the American-centric exposure of the Super Bowl. He also reportedly emphasized the shift from hype-driven marketing to a more educational stance on the potential of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, Coinbase, a past participant in Super Bowl advertising, is redirecting funds towards policy advocacy, with eyes set on influencing comprehensive digital asset legislation and supporting sympathetic policymakers in the 2024 elections. 

Its decision to potentially abstain from Super Bowl advertising underscores a larger, industry-wide reconsideration of marketing strategies. Ever since the collapse of FTX, the crypto industry has been marked by increased regulatory scrutiny and the sobering aftermath of high-profile missteps.

Despite recent approvals for new spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), there will be a conspicuous absence of related ads during the event, traditionally a playground for lavish commercial debuts.

Heavy hitters like BlackRock and Grayscale have decided against investing in Super Bowl airtime, which some may regard as a missed opportunity. Still, it’s hardly surprising given the timing of the ETF approvals and the overarching cautious sentiment currently enveloping the sector.

Terrett also clarified that had spot Bitcoin ETF issuers have even been of a mind to advertise at Super Bowl LVIII, only Grayscale would have been allowed to broadcast its GBTC ticker.

This is due to a provision that allows only those entities with at least 12 months of trading history to advertise using their ticker. Only Grayscale meets this requirement, meaning other companies would have been restricted to general Bitcoin (BTC) exposure promotions without their specific tickers.

Crypto missing at the Super Bowl for second year in a row

The last time crypto had any real presence in the Super Bowl extravaganza was in 2022, when a wave of crypto firms lavished viewers with celebrity-laden ads.

Figures like seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, basketball star Stephen Curry and comedian Larry David were enlisted by the now-bankrupt FTX, eliciting a ‘fear of missing out’ with prompts to venture into the volatile world of crypto.

Most of these advertisers later faced one challenge or another that kept them from returning to the bright lights for another halftime show in 2023. FTX’s bankruptcy and the subsequent arrest of CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have become a cautionary tale about the fragility of the crypto market. The scandal left celebrities like David, who was paid in crypto for his participation, lamenting their involvement.

In the aftermath of the so-called “Crypto Bowl” (what fans dubbed Super Bowl LVI), companies like Crypto.com were forced to lay off employees despite their hefty commitments, such as the $700 million for LA’s Crypto.com Arena naming rights.

Meanwhile, Coinbase, despite a memorable floating QR code in 2022, had to navigate a more than 70% stock price plunge, layoffs, and regulatory issues, including a hefty settlement due to lax account background checks.

Subsequently, last year’s only crypto-related advertisement to grace the Super Bowl came from a lesser-known entity: the crypto-gaming company Limit Break. Their $6.5 million bet on an NFT-based game ad, DigiDaigaku, echoed the industry’s theme of enticement, leading viewers to a QR code that promised an NFT claim but merely redirected to the company CEO’s Twitter page.


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