Last night, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals to become Super Bowl LVI Champions.
Off the field, many crypto companies—Coinbase, FTX and Crypto.com among them—made their Super Bowl commercial debuts in what quickly became dubbed the “Crypto Bowl.”
Of course, crypto sports marketing isn't new—looking at you, Matt Damon—but never before has the industry been thrust so forcefully into the eyes of so many.
Twitter reacted accordingly.
So, who scanned that QR code?
Coinbase was one of the most talked about crypto companies during the game, yet the crypto exchange’s commercial was one of the simplest to ever hit Super Bowl airwaves.
The ad featured a QR code bouncing around the screen for a whole minute. Those who scanned it were taken to Coinbase’s website and offered $15 in free Bitcoin if they signed up as a new customer.
As with most things on Twitter, Coinbase’s commercial was applauded, ridiculed, and everything in between.
“Coinbase really paid millions for a commercial on a QR code,” said one, two, three, and many other Super Bowl fans. Harvard professor Juliette Kayyem said, “raise your hand if a QR code flashed around your tv for around a minute or so and the idea to scan it not once crossed your mind.”
Making matters worse, Coinbase’s website briefly crashed—apparently enough people’s curiosity got the better of them.
Meanwhile, others loved it. Talk show host Dan O’Donnell thought Coinbase’s ad was the Super Bowl’s best, and "it's not even close.”
The wheel, the toilet… the Bitcoin
FTX already had spent a ton on sports marketing—evidenced by the Miami Heat’s new FTX Arena, partnerships with multiple Washington sports franchises, and even new FTX-branded MLB umpire logos.
But this was the Crypto Bowl, so FTX swung for the fences with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David.
David was the star of the FTX show, appearing as an array of characters turning up his nose at some of world history's most important innovations.
The next big innovation? Well, cryptocurrency, of course. The commercial closed with David scoffing at the FTX app, as the exchange told viewers not to be like David, and not to miss out on crypto.
Broadly speaking, the ad went down well, with the majority of Twitter users saying David’s performance was hilarious.
Though, there are still, somehow, some people who think cryptocurrency isn't as big an innovation as the wheel, the lightbulb, or democracy—and those folks weren’t impressed. We know, right?
Fortune still favors the brave
Crypto.com has been put through the ringer for its Matt Damon ad that began airing in October.
“Saddest thing about Matt Damon’s macho baiting crypto pitch where the viewer must ACT NOW or he’s a weak pussy is that this is a top 3 classic pitch all financial schemes have used to goad men into forking over their paltry savings. Nothing has changed in 150 years,” said Citations Needed podcast host Adam Johnson.
“There isn’t enough yuck in the world to describe Matt Damon advertising a Ponzi scheme,” said Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr.
But despite the backlash, Crypto.com doubled down on its “fortune favors the brave” mantra, this time recruiting NBA legend LeBron James and sending him back to 2003 to speak to… a younger, CGI-enhanced version himself.
This time, Crypto.com’s ad was more warmly received, with crypto fans and basketball fans alike relating to Lebron’s “moment of truth.” “At its core, this is really a story about all of us. We’ve all had to make these big courageous decisions that affect our future,” Ben Lay, creative director at Crypto.com, said in a post teasing the commercial.
Other crypto mentions
Crypto-native companies like FTX, Crypto.com, and Coinbase gave Super Bowl fans plenty to talk about, but a few others—eToro, TurboTax, and Bud Light among them—were happy to crash the party.
Bud Light commercials have been a permanent fixture during Super Bowls, but this year the company was the first of the gate with crypto material.
At roughly 6:50pm EST, just minutes into the game, Bud Light’s ad included a nod to the company’s participation in the Noun DAO’s NFT collection. This, of course, is also not Bud Light’s first foray into NFTs, but that’s a story for another time.
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