Who’s Coughing Up Crypto Winter Dollars for Super Bowl Ads?

A crypto exchange that previously told Blockworks it planned to advertise during the NFL’s biggest game has changed its mind

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PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock.com modified by Blockworks

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Despite rocky digital asset markets, a couple crypto-related firms are set to soon shell out Super Bowl ad dollars — though another would-be buyer of one of the coveted slots has pulled back. 

Overall representation from the sector’s companies during the NFL’s championship appears to be shaping up as muted, though. That’s especially true compared to last year’s display, when FTX, Crypto.com, Coinbase and eToro all touted television spots.  

Viewers can safely assume FTX won’t be running a Super Bowl ad.

The bankrupt exchange — whose founder, Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest — in its commercial last February featured the comedian Larry David, who implied the company was doomed to fail.

Ironic.   

LeBron James appeared in Crypto.com’s ad during last year’s title game. Coinbase’s spot was simpler, displaying a floating QR code box directing people to a promotional page that temporarily spurred traffic-fueled connection issues

Crypto.com declined to comment on its Super Bowl plans this time around. The firm has become one of many industry players to cut staff as markets have tanked. 

Coinbase — which itself took cost-cutting measures earlier this month — did not return a request for comment.

Social investing network eToro, which ran an ad, too, is not taking part this year, a spokesperson told Blockworks.

“We dial up or down specific channels based on many factors including market conditions,” the representative said in a statement. “We’re building for the long-term and will continue to invest heavily in marketing and in building brand awareness in our key markets, including the US.”

What about others?

Canadian crypto exchange Bitbuy is set to follow up last year’s ad, which featured NBA star Kyle Lowry, with a spot that introduces a new brand ambassador.

Binu Koshy, Bitbuy’s branding and communications director, declined to identify the celebrity — beyond dropping the hint that he is “one of the NBA’s most popular rising stars.”

Bitbuy’s Super Bowl ad set. Bitbuy covered the NBA player’s face with an emoji for the time being. | Source: Bitbuy

The firm’s new 60-second spot is set to appear on the Canadian broadcasts of the title game — shown on the networks CTV and TSN — within an hour before kick-off. He did not share how much the company paid for the ad. 

The messaging will be different from last year’s spot, which was designed to establish the company’s brand in Canada before larger players fully entered the market, Koshy said.   

“One year later, the landscape has completely changed,” Koshy told Blockworks. “As more and more unlicensed international crypto exchanges target Canadians, we wanted to remind people that Bitbuy is 100% Canadian, fully regulated and transparent.” 

Blockchain gaming company Limit Break said in October it bought a Super Bowl ad for $6.5 million, adding that the television spot would feature its DigiDaigaku NFT collection. The company gave away the collection during a free mint in August around the time the Limit Break raised $200 million.

“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,” Limit Break co-founder Gabriel Leydon told Blockworks at the time. 

Leydon more recently told GamesBeat the commercial would include a QR code directing players to apply for a free NFT mint. 

The company did not return a request for additional comment. 

Crypto exchange OKX, meanwhile, has had a change of heart. 

OKX Chief Marketing Officer Haider Rafique told Blockworks in October the company was planning on buying a spot for the Super Bowl, adding that the commercial could cost more than $10 million.   

The executive said at the time the exchange’s “What is OKX?” campaign was a preamble to its 2023 marketing efforts. Rafique added the potential Super Bowl spot could focus on OKX’s self-custodial Web3 wallet. 

A few weeks later crypto markets were once again rattled as FTX collapsed, shaking confidence in centralized exchanges and similar entities. 

OKX has decided not to pursue a Super Bowl ad this year. 

“The crypto marketing landscape has changed significantly since last year’s Super Bowl, in large part due to the continued fallout from the FTX implosion,” Rafique told Blockworks. “We think that consumers are responding better to sustained campaigns that emphasize transparency and trust. This is what we’re focusing on because it fits the current market sentiment and our strategy best right now.”

Updated Feb. 1, 2023 at 1 pm ET: Added quote from OKX Chief Marketing Officer Haider Rafique.


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