The Crypto Firms That Bought Those Super Bowl Ads Aren’t So Great Anymore

The crypto dominated the world’s biggest stage with a series of ads during Super Bowl LVI. Now these companies are once again in the spotlight as their industry falters.

Four crypto companies were most important during the football game: Coinbase,

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Crypto.com, eToro and FTX. Their spots helped bring total crypto ad spend in February to $73 million, according to research firm MediaRadar.

“[The ads] weren’t on what crypto is or why it’s a good investment,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing firm Metaforce. “The only story they told was, ‘Don’t miss the boat. It’s the next big thing. Don’t be left behind.

This message is a tougher sell as the digital asset frenzy cools and markets falter. Some companies are downsizing, canceling job offers and laying off employees.

Here is an overview of four announcements and the current situation of the companies.

Coinbase Global Inc.

The announcement: Coinbase’s pitch was simple: a QR code that bounced around the screen like a DVD screensaver. (Remember that?) The code linked to a sign-up promotion that included the chance to win a $3 million giveaway. The company said it received more than 20 million visits to its landing page within one minute.

Coinbase bled users this year, and on June 14 the company announced it was cutting its workforce by 1,100 employees, or about 18% of its workforce. Chief Executive Brian Armstrong said the company had grown too quickly and a potential recession “could lead to another crypto winter.” Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, went public last year, and its IPO was seen as a watershed moment for the emerging industry.

Crypto.com

The announcement: No reference to cryptography. Instead, LeBron James returns in 2003 to tell his younger self that “if you want to make history, you have to make your own decisions.” The slogan: “Fortune smiles on the daring”.

Last year, the company paid to sponsor the former Staples Center, home to Mr. James and the Los Angeles Lakers, and rename the venue Crypto.com Arena. The crypto exchange has also tapped actor Matt Damon as a brand ambassador. On June 10, Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek

said on Twitter that his company would carry out “targeted reductions” of around 5% of its workforce, or 260 jobs.

FTX Trade

The announcement: Larry David stars as a misguided opponent through history, refusing inventions like the wheel, the fork, coffee and, nowadays, crypto.

Despite the recent market downturn, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried said in a June 6 Twitter thread that FTX would not freeze hiring: “Sometimes when others Zig, you Zag.” Mr Bankman-Fried bought a 7.6% stake in trading app Robinhood Markets in May Inc.

The Bahamian exchange has ventured into sports marketing, including a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball and a $135 million naming rights deal for the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat. FTX has also tapped soccer star Tom Brady and his wife, model and businesswoman Gisele Bündchen, for a $20 million ad campaign.

eToro Group

The announcement: A man typing “Crypto? Stocks? Where to start?” is carried through the air to the tune of “Fly Me to the Moon”.

eToro’s surreal Super Bowl ad featured “Fly Me to the Moon” as the soundtrack.


Photo:

eToro/YouTube

eToro has so far avoided the disastrous headlines of the crypto winter. The popularity of “social investing” brokerage stems from interactive elements such as live chat streams and trending stocks. Last year, the company ran a series of online advertisements featuring actor Alec Baldwin, promoting its new CopyTrader feature which allows users to automatically imitate other investors’ trades. In April, eToro also expanded into NFTs with the launch of eToro.art, a $20 million fund to purchase non-fungible tokens.

Write to Francesca Fontana at francesca.fontana@wsj.com

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Appeared in the June 18, 2022 print edition as “The Super Bowl’s (Fallen) Stars”.


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