Super Bowl LVI may have been the first crypto bowl.
It’s not that cryptocurrency-related ads completely overwhelmed Super Bowl commercial breaks to the exclusion of all other ads. In fact, there were more ads for the more traditional Super Bowl fare of booze, cars, and movie trailers than there were crypto ads.
But the cryptocurrency caused a stir at the Super Bowl – one of the most watched and publicized publicity events of the year – in an attempt to win over mainstream customers (in addition to a majority minority). young and masculine who is embraced digital currency so far.) But despite the hype, none of the big-game cryptocurrency ads attempted to sell people anything other than spending more money on crypto.
LeBron James was there (along with his aging younger self) to promote Crypto.com. Larry David compared running out of crypto to passing the wheel, landing on the moon, or the idea of portable music for FTX. eToro sold being part of the crypto community as a new wave of “social investment.” Bud Light Next by Budweiser has been promoted with NFT drops. And Coinbase’s bouncing QR code offered free Bitcoins to customers who signed up – which, while lacking in celebrity cameos, was still among the most talked about ads of the night. All told, it was perhaps the biggest debut yet for crypto on the national stage, surpassing even Matt Damon’s seemingly endless commercials. that haunted the NFL regular season.
Some of these ads were remarkably effective. Coinbase’s ad, in particular, stood out, with the company reporting 20 million visits to its website in one minute – enough traffic to temporarily crash the app and the most the company has ever had. (Something that may have been the purpose of the enigmatic advertisement in the first place.) The next morning, Coinbase also saw Coinbase emerge as the second most downloaded iPhone app on the App Store.
But it also indicates which elements of the blockchain bonanza were not present at the Super Bowl. For the most part, the ads focused almost exclusively on exchanges and the most basic aspect of how to invest in cryptocurrency more easily. There were no NFT shilling ads, no Bored Ape appearances during the halftime show, or even a mention of the NFL Commemorative NFTs for the big game.
There were also no ads promoting the theoretically more practical uses of crypto, as part of the “Web3” pitch that envisions blockchain technology underpinning huge swaths of the future of The internet, along with user-generated content and social media have driven the Web 2.0 era.
While this year’s Super Bowl was supposed to be the big public debut of blockchain, it was remarkably short on the pitches that explain what cryptocurrency technology will actually do or how it will improve things in people’s daily lives. Instead, the big mainstream crypto pitch was a flashy, celebrity-studded gateway to lure new buyers into the blockchain hype wheel.
The Biggest Super Bowl Crypto Players Were Just Promoting The idea of cryptocurrency in general, telling viewers that now is the time to buy into the blockchain, offering free bitcoin deposits for registration and pushing the narrative that do not getting on board with crypto would mean missing out on the next big thing.
“If you want to make history, you have to make your own decisions,” LeBron says at a young age before a “Fortune smiles on the brave” slogan appears on screen. “Do you want to be Larry David, stuck in the past and jumping on mankind’s greatest inventions, or do you want to be King James?” ask the Super Bowl crypto exchanges. There is no evidence of the value of cryptocurrency or the usefulness of owning Bitcoin or Ethereum – just an attempt to drive up FOMO.
Of course, none of the ads here mentioned the quiet part of how cryptocurrency works: more new customer sign-up means prices will continue to rise for cryptocurrencies, which will make crypto-believers existing ones (and the companies like Crypto.com or FTX that facilitate those sales) get richer in a way that’s starting to look a bit like a towering pyramid scheme dressed in the veneer of “the future of the internet.”
Clearly, the cryptocurrency companies that have shelled out millions for Super Bowl ads think it’s worth trying to attract more mainstream customers, given the estimated price of $7 million for a 30-second ad in this year’s game.
2022 wasn’t the first time the Super Bowl served as a hotbed for promising, up-and-coming technology. Twenty-two years ago, Super Bowl XXXIV saw the St. Louis Rams take on the Tennessee Titans, with a whopping 17 dot-com startups buy advertisements (against only two the previous year). Two decades later – and after the dotcom bubble burst – virtually all of these businesses have disappeared.
It is not yet clear where the cryptocurrency sits in this hype cycle or if it is even a comparable case. Super Bowl LVI may just be the calm before the storm, and next year’s big game will be swamped with Web3 startups all showcasing the latest and greatest blockchain-based innovations to the world. Or maybe, like the dot-com boom that preceded it, these crypto companies will disappear by this time next year, and we’ll look back on 2022 as nothing more than a weird curiosity.
But one thing is clear from blockchain’s big Super Bowl debut: if the technology is going to succeed in the mainstream, lofty rhetoric about how Bitcoin is the next smartphone, moon landing, or wheel won’t cut it. At Super Bowl LVI, cryptocurrency promises an ouroboros of nothingness: it’s the future because it’s the future, and if you miss it, you won’t be part of it. At some point, however, if blockchain technology is to have any chance of surviving among mainstream customers as anything other than silicon snake oil, it will have to actually deliver on some of those promises.