What Crypto Super Bowl Ads Can We Expect in 2023?

An NFT collection is set to be featured during the game, while exchange OKX is in talks to buy a spot


Source: DALL·E


key takeaways

  • Blockchain gaming company Limit Break plans to feature its DigiDaigaku NFT collection in the Super Bowl spot it bought for $6.5 million
  • OKX seeking to create “aspirational” ad about the potential of Web3, OKX Chief Marketing Officer tells Blockworks

Just like 2022’s NFL season, the crypto bear market — which has lasted much longer — trudges on. And while many have cut costs, not all crypto firms are backing down from spending. Some are even gearing up to dish out millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to build brand awareness. 

The 2022 Super Bowl offered a spotlight on the crypto industry less than three months after bitcoin (BTC) and ether (BTC) hit all-time highs, featuring advertisements from FTX, Coinbase, Crypto.com and others. The price of BTC and ETH are each down more than 70% from those peaks.

Though a more-tempered representation is expected this time around, blockchain gaming company Limit Break said last week it bought a Super Bowl ad for $6.5 million. Crypto exchange OKX is also planning to purchase a television spot for the game, Chief Marketing Officer Haider Rafique told Blockworks. 

Rafique estimated the cost — between the ad itself, as well as creating the idea for and producing the commercial — could total more than $10 million. He called the company’s recent “What is OKX?” campaign a preamble to its 2023 marketing efforts, starting with the Super Bowl.

The ad is likely to focus on OKX’s self-custody Web3 wallet, Rafique said.  

“When you see a Super Bowl ad from us, it will be about not the future of crypto or finance, but it will likely be about the future of Web3, and the ability for people to read, write and own on the web — and what does that look like for entrepreneurs, for small businesses, for creators and all of us,” he added.

The exchange purposefully held back on marketing during the bull market, Rafique said, allowing it to push forward with marketing initiatives in recent months while competitors have pulled back. 

The exchange, for example, revealed a partnership with Formula 1’s McLaren Racing in a multi-year deal worth “hundreds of millions” in May. 

“When the market goes down, people have more skepticism around our industry,” Rafique said. “That’s the time when we should be doing storytelling.”

A spotlight on NFTs

While OKX has not yet finalized its media buy for the Super Bowl, Limit Break has. 

The company, founded by mobile game creators Gabriel Leydon and Halbert Nakagawa, is set to feature its DigiDaigaku NFT collection in the television spot. Limit Break gave away the collection during a free mint in August around the time the company raised $200 million from Buckley Ventures, Standard Crypto, Paradigm Ventures, FTX, Coinbase Ventures and others.

The company said in a statement last week that the ad would include a “Web3 experience” but declined to share specifics.

“I can assure you that you haven’t seen what we’ll be coming out with,” Leydon told Blockworks in an email. “Having this ad is exciting for us because prior to the Super Bowl, there’s going to be millions of people who have never heard of an NFT.” 

The promotion of an NFT collection during the Super Bowl is especially interesting, according to Coinbound CEO Ty Smith, as people will be able to see the effect of the ad on the collection’s volume and price in real time. 

“I’m not sure there’s too many products that have that type of insight possible and, as marketers, is something we are watching,” the crypto marketing firm founder said.

By gaining access to roughly 50 million people watching the Super Bowl on television and an expected additional 10 million watching online, Leydon said that the commercial purchase is a way to grow the current DigiDaigaku community that currently consists of roughly 20,000 followers across Twitter and Discord.

Who will buy again?

FTX, Coinbase, Crypto.com and eToro each made ad buys during the US Super Bowl broadcast in February, as FTX and Crypto.com ran commercials featuring Larry David and LeBron James, respectively.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said during a discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center last week that celebrity-fueled crypto ads are less about gaining retail customers than they are about fostering institutional relationships — a concept he admitted seemed counter-intuitive.

“It’s a foot in the door, is what it really is,” he said. “It’s a, ‘Please stop declining our meeting requests and have the meeting so that we can talk about a way we can potentially work together.’”

Coinbase’s 60-second advertisement in February featured a QR code that directed people to a promotional page on its website offering new users free bitcoin. The 30-second ad by eToro promoting “social investing” mentioned crypto several times.

Spokespeople for the four companies declined to comment on whether they would advertise during the Super Bowl again. 

Crypto platform Bitbuy was the only firm in the space to advertise on the Super Bowl’s Canadian broadcast. The Bitbuy commercial featured NBA star Kyle Lowry. 

Though the company’s online marketing spend in the year’s second half has remained consistent to pre-market downturn levels, according to Binu Koshy, Bitbuy’s director of communications, it greatly reduced its offline marketing spend, he said, which includes Kyle Lowry commercials.

“[It’s] not because we don’t believe in the medium, but because we felt the messaging in the commercials were not reflective of the current market realities, so it wouldn’t perform,” Koshy said. “We’ve also noticed that presently none of our top competitors here in Canada are advertising on offline media channels that they were in the past. Obviously that could change.”

Though Koshy said he could not comment on whether the company would run an ad in the 2023 Super Bowl, he noted Bitbuy has “ambitious marketing plans” for next year. 

“We will continue to promote the benefits of using a regulated and locally based crypto-trading platform like Bitbuy over unregulated international exchanges,” Koshy said. 

A different message?

There may be fewer digital asset-related ads during the 2023 Super Bowl, said Keli Callaghan, a partner at Arrington Capital who formerly led marketing at Algorand. But many entities in this space have a long-term vision and recognize the need for continued education, she added.

“I hope that those that do come to light will be more impactful in terms of educating the US more broadly on the real benefit of being able to exchange value in decentralized models and expand financial participation,” Callaghan said.

Coinbound CEO Ty Smith said he expects crypto messaging during the Super Bowl to have a bit more “gravitas” and foresees the major players positioning crypto as an interesting addition to an investment portfolio.

“The markets are down and a lot of people got burned last year,” Smith said. “Everyone knows that, and I think aware marketing teams are going to acknowledge it while still [educating] viewers about the long-term possibility of Web3.”

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