Crypto Exchanges Compete to Grab Super Bowl Spotlight

Executives at FTX, Bitbuy tell Blockworks why they bought ads for the big game

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key takeaways

  • Bitbuy spent roughly a quarter of its 2022 marketing budget on its Super Bowl ad starring Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry
  • FTX will give away bitcoin as part of its ad campaign

Crypto companies FTX, Bitbuy, Coinbase and Crypto.com are set to run Super Bowl ads on Sunday, marking the first time that companies in the industry will advertise during the game.

Though some advertisers paid as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot, NBC revealed last week, executives at FTX and Bitbuy said the cost is worth it for their companies. 

“In the US, there is no other event each year where consumers actively look forward to being advertised to,” FTX marketing executive Nathaniel Whittemore told Blockworks.

“Watching and picking out your favorite Super Bowl ads is a part of the tradition of the big game, and that’s a pretty unique opportunity to be a part of.”

More than 30 advertisers in this year’s Super Bowl — about 40% of the total group — didn’t run an ad last year, according to NBC. Most of the new advertisers fall into the automotive, technology and travel categories.

FTX revealed on Monday that it would be giving away bitcoin as part of a contest running in conjunction with the ad. Though an FTX spokesperson declined to share details about the commercial, star power can be expected.

The crypto exchange has run ads featuring seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen.

The company also tapped other star athletes last year, such as Stephen Curry and Shohei Ohtani, to be brand ambassadors.

“This game comes as something of a capstone on a year during which there has been a massive increase in consumer awareness of the crypto industry,” Whittemore explained. “Between people investing in their first cryptos or exploring NFTs, more Americans than ever are part of the digital asset ecosystem, so we thought it was a great time to bring crypto to the big game.”

The expensive Super Bowl ad buy will not prevent FTX from doing more marketing campaigns in 2022, Whittemore added.

Eric Chen, CEO and co-founder of Injective Labs, argued that the Super Bowl will be the first time that the entire crypto industry is under a major spotlight.

“While the broad crypto market is calming down after major movements in 2021, FTX is trying to increase the platform adoption through advertising,” Chen said. “We can’t predict the exact tradeoff of this investment, but we certainly know that this is very helpful for their PR coverage and global brand awareness.”

Canadian crypto exchange looks to reach new audience

Canada-based crypto platform Bitbuy has recently changed its marketing strategy to target more members of Gen X and baby boomers, according to Binu Koshy, Bitbuy’s marketing and communications director.

Its Super Bowl ad, which features Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, will air in Canada. Lowry is well known in the country for playing nine years with the Toronto Raptors and winning an NBA title with the team in 2019.

Kyle Lowry on the set of Bitbuy’s Super Bowl commercial | Source: Bitbuy

Until about six months ago, Bitbuy primarily advertised through digital channels, where the majority of its users consume media. 

“We reached the point where growing our customer base means attracting new consumer segments,” Koshy said. “It’s not sustainable to keep speaking to the same early adopters over and over again who have already jumped into crypto.” 

Bitbuy applied to become a registered crypto exchange, a prerequisite to be able to run the Super Bowl commercial. It gained the distinction on Nov. 30 and signed Lowry two days later. 

Though the ad was less expensive than the $7 million price tag in the US, Koshy said, roughly 25% of the company’s marketing budget for 2022 went to signing Lowry, as well as producing and buying the ad.

“That is a big percentage, but we feel there is no other media event in the calendar when you can reach so many people at one time,” Koshy explained.

“Studies show there is a direct correlation between sports enthusiasts and crypto investors, and we are using the Super Bowl as a launching pad for our Kyle Lowry commercial to reach sports fans of all the major sports leagues.”

Between 60% to 70% of Bitbuy’s marketing spend this year will be on ads during live sports, he added.

Crypto.com and Coinbase are also reportedly set to run ads during the NFL championship game. Spokespeople for both companies declined to share specifics about the commercials.

The upcoming Super Bowl ad for Crypto.com comes after a year of heavy marketing efforts that included buying the naming rights to what was formerly the Staples Center in Los Angeles and creating a television spot starring actor Matt Damon.

The company also partnered with LeBron James last month, and a video posted on Twitter Saturday seems to indicate the four-time NBA champion will appear in the company’s Super Bowl ad.

Crypto exchange Coinbase went public last year and touts more than 70 million users.

Alternative campaigns

Binance is countering the ads running during the Super Bowl with a marketing campaign urging people to “learn crypto and trust yourself.”

The crypto exchange’s campaign, which will not include an ad during the game, features singer J Balvin, NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler and mixed martial arts fighter Valentina Shevchenko.

During the Super Bowl, Binance is encouraging viewers to visit CryptoCelebAlert.com when crypto commercials with celebrities air to claim one of 2,222 NFTs (non-fungible tokens) featuring Butler. The site will also include a crypto primer to understand basics about the technology.

“Our focus is on being user-first and empowering through education,” a Binance spokesperson told Blockworks. “We appreciate that our competitors are spending to show up in primetime and drive crypto awareness, however our counter-programming approach was developed to draw attention to the gap between awareness and adoption.”

Vancouver-based Dapper Labs also launched NFTs featuring visuals of the conference championship trophies won by the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. 

Additional NFTs with the Super Bowl and winning team logos, as well as the date and score of the game, will become available next week.

“I hope that with this newfound attention, crypto brands think deeply about how they can best educate the public about why this technology matters and how it can positively influence people’s lives,” said Keli Callaghan, Algorand’s head of marketing.

This story was edited on Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. ET.


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