The Super Bowl is a high-stakes game — and not just for the players on the field. Advertisers shell out millions for seconds of airtime, with often star-studded commercials beamed to 100 million U.S. viewers. This year, a new crop of marketers is aiming to score big with viewers: cryptocurrency companies.
FTX Trading and Crypto.com are among a handful of cryptocurrency-related companies that have spots in the February 13 game. The cost of 30-second ad cost $6.5 million this year, according to NBC, and that’s just a fraction of the overall cost for advertisers. Companies spend millions more on producing movie-quality ads and related marketing campaigns.
This year, crypto companies are barging into the Super Bowl ad showdown, which as usual also includes more traditional advertisers like beer and car companies. The Super Bowl audience is a diverse mix, with about 4 of 10 viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 — a group that falls squarely in the demographic of crypto customers.
Advertising in the Super Bowl is no guarantee of success, of course. Take the so-called “dot-com” Super Bowl in 2000, when more than a dozen new internet companies like E-Stamp.com and Pets.com bought time in the broadcast. To be sure, a few of those companies still remain active, like AutoTrader and WebMD, but others have shut down or otherwise left scene.
“I don’t think the cryptos will be a staple of the Super Bowl — I don’t know how often we’ll see them again,” said Robert Kolt, a professor of practice at Michigan State University who focuses on advertising and marketing. “The dot-coms went away, and the auto [advertisers] stayed.”
Popular ads don’t guarantee a company will make it, either. While Pets.com’s sock-puppet was a hit with Super Bowl viewers, the money-losing dot-com eventually failed with customers. Another risk: Some ads can backfire, damaging a brand. Take the Just for Feet ad in 1999 that depicted White hunters tracking a barefoot Kenyan runner, drugging him and forcing shoes on his feet — it was termed “the ad from hell” by Salon.com and spurred the footwear company to sue its advertising company.
“Competing in the super big leagues”
Much of the Super Bowl audience may not know a lot about crypto, which provides an opportunity for these crypto advertisers to reach new customers, Kolt said. But these new entrants will have their work cut out for them given the competition from more seasoned advertisers, Kolt said.
“The problem is all the noise in the Super Bowl from the other great ads — you are competing in the super big leagues,” Kolt said. “I would be shocked if crypto could really do that.”
FTX.com has an unusual angle: It’s giving away bitcoin to viewers. According to its teaser, the company will be giving away an amount of bitcoin equal to the exact time at which the ad runs in the game. So if the ad runs at 8:50 p.m., the company would give away 8.5 bitcoin, worth about $373,400 based on Wednesday’s price. Four people will each win the prize, according to the company.
One ad airing this Sunday comes from cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance and features professional basketball player Jimmy Butler. In the commercial, he cautions would-be investors about putting too much faith in other crypto companies running ads during the Super Bowl.
Butler joins a slew of other celebrities, including Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mike Tyson, plugging digital currencies. The NBA star told CBS MoneyWatch that he’s not only promoting cryptocurrency — he wants to be an investor and is doing his own research.
“I can’t pretend to even know a tenth of what’s out there,” Butler said. “I’m still learning every single day.”
“If I didn’t know any better, I would listen to these celebrities myself,” he added, encouraging people to do their homework.
“It’s back to fun and humor”
Many of this year’s Super Bowl spots will be humorous, with plenty of celebs popping up, said Kolt, who said he’s seen a third of the ads so far.
“From what I’ve seen, we’re completely ignoring the pandemic,” he said. “It’s back to fun and humor and celebrities.”
Among the standouts, Kolt pointed to an ad for Amazon’s Alexa digital voice service, which features married actors Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost. The ad imagines what would happen if Alexa could read minds and broadcast what couples are thinking.
“It’s really cute for couples — if you are in a relationship, you’ll like that ad,” Kolt said.
Ads generating buzz
Below are additional Super Bowl LVI ads that have been pre-released and are already generating some buzz.
Squarespace ad featuring “Euphoria” star Zendaya as seashell-seller Sally:
Nissan spot featuring “Schitt’s Creek” stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, along with Brie Larson, Danai Gurira and Dave Bautista:
Lay’s potato chips ad featuring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd:
Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda spot featuring Guy Fieri:
Planet Fitness ad featuring Lindsay Lohan:
Sam Adams beer ad featuring robot dogs from Boston Dynamics:
Binance ad featuring Jimmy Butler:
FanDuel ad featuring actor Jennifer Coolidge:
Ad for Greenlight children’s finance app features Ty Burrel from “Modern Family”:
In this year’s Budweiser’s ad, its famous Clydesdale recovers from an ankle injury — a symbol of America’s resilience:
Ad for Wallbox, maker of charging stations for electric cars, features real-life lighting strike survivor Seth Thomas: