Many crypto exchanges involved some famous faces in their Super Bowl adverts — but one brand that thought out the box ended up making a huge mistake.
Aside from a last-minute touchdown and 50 Cent making a surprise appearance by hanging upside down during the half-time show, there's another thing that Super Bowl LVI will be remembered for: a barrage of crypto ads.
Although a plethora of trading platforms seized the opportunity to tell millions of people about digital assets, the PR blitz appears to have done little to move Bitcoin's price.
Some have compared the onslaught of crypto ads to the Super Bowl in 2000 — the height of the dotcom boom — when 14 internet companies jostled for attention by taking out a prized TV spot.
5. eToro — 3/10
A pretty dull ad by eToro, which sought to champion the fact that it offers "social investing" — allowing users to share their musings on the market with fellow traders.
Inexplicably, a flock of flying people begin to form and glide past a woman's window (with one of them comically banging her head on the glass.) They then form a massive thumbs up. Cool.
eToro clearly wanted to highlight how it offers a sense of community through its platform — and went down the inspirational route rather than producing something slapstick.
At the end, a woman who is part of the flying crowd of investors reaches out her hand to the man on the street, and says: "To the moon?"
Yes. We know.
eToro's ad was in danger of being scored 2/10 — but we've bumped it up one point because it actually features a real-life shiba inu.
4. Bitbuy — 3.5/10
Up next we have Bitbuy — and from now on, most of the ads we'll be discussing feature a celebrity.
You'll know this instantly when you watch the Bitbuy advert because you have a shrill man shouting "KYLE LOWRY!" in a high-pitched, grating voice.
The basketball player is in a conference room with an excitable Bitbuy executive, who is pitching an idea for their next ad. Meta.
Mr Shrill points out how many consumers wished they had bought tech stocks or real estate 10 years ago.
Kyle Lowry, with a performance that's unlikely to bring an Oscar nomination, then turns his laptop around and flatly says: "It's happening here with crypto."
The BitBuy boss then shares his ad idea, which features a voice of God proclaiming: "Kyle Lowry has missed over 6,000 shots in his career. Don't be like Kyle and miss your opportunity again, and again, and again, and again."
Mr Shrill proceeds to make a series of progressively worse poses to the sound of a basketball hitting the rim — prompting Lowry to say: "Seriously?"
An okay effort, we thought. Kudos to Lowry for his self-deprecating appearance.
3. Crypto.com - 5/10
More evidence for the theory that only professional basketball players can endorse digital assets, Crypto.com tapped LeBron James for its 30-second spot.
Here, the NBA legend travels all the way back to 2003 to visit his teenage self.
As the adult, wise LeBron flicks through an album of CDs, his youthful mini-me enthusiastically asks: "Alright, so… cordless headphones, you can watch movies through your phone, and y'all got electric cars? The future is crunk!"
Sat on the side of the bed, old LeBron asks his younger self if there's anything else he wants to know, as the camera shows a newspaper article pinned on the wall that asks: "Is LeBron James going straight to the league?"
Young LeBron philosophically asks: "Is the hype too much? Am I ready?"
And with 19 years of achievement under his belt, old LeBron replies: "I can't tell you everything. But if you want to make history, you've gotta call your own shots."
This prompts the teenager to declare "we're going to the league" — and the exchange's much-hated slogan, "fortune favors the brave," then pops up on the screen.
The tagline didn't go down well when it featured in ads starring Matt Damon, with armchair critics mocking the exchange for comparing Dogecoin investors to astronauts and explorers. As podcaster Adam H. Johnson wrote in January:
"Saddest thing about Matt Damon's macho-baiting crypto pitch where the viewer must ACT NOW or he's a weak p**** 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."
Crypto.com tried to take the classy road by avoiding mentioning digital assets altogether in its ad — with its logo only appearing in the final two seconds of the 30-second spot. The distraction of beer and chicken wings means this may have passed many viewers by.
2. Coinbase - 6/10
Coinbase spent most of its 60 seconds channeling this energy — with a QR code continually changing color as it bounced around the screen. Videos on YouTube showed Super Bowl watching parties reacting euphorically when it finally does.
Countless viewers would have ended up scanning the QR code to find out who the mystery sponsor is — and we only find out that it's Coinbase in the final few seconds, when its logo appears on screen.
Unfortunately, Coinbase ended up witnessing "more traffic than we've ever encountered," meaning the page wouldn't load for many people. The brilliant ad ended up being blown by something that is all too familiar for many current Coinbase users: downtime at critical moments. As NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted:
"Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Super Bowl ad to direct people to their website and $0 to make sure that website doesn't crash 10 seconds after the ad starts is so very internet."
1. FTX — 9.5/10
Out of principle I refuse to give something 10/10 (there's always room for improvement after all,) but FTX came pretty damn close with its Super Bowl advert.
He's equally dismissive of the fork, wiggling his fingers and shouting "I've got 10 forks right here, baby!"
Toilets are mocked ("we go outside like humans!") and he ends up in a brawl over the Constitution because America decides to give people the right to vote ("even the stupid ones?!) instead of crowning a king.
He tells Thomas Edison that the light bulb stinks, says no human will ever travel to the moon ("it's too far!") — and is escorted out of a business meeting for dismissing portable music players as he shouts "BATTERIES!" passionately in Japanese.
And so we come to the present day, when a man presents him with FTX — describing it as "a safe and easy way into crypto." And predictably, Larry goes: "Yeahhhhh…. I don't think so. And I'm never wrong about this stuff. Never."
As the ad comes to a close, viewers are told "don't be like Larry" — and it wraps up by saying don't miss out on crypto, NFTs and on "the next big thing."
It's a funny ad — it rightly shows that many technological innovations have attracted naysayers at the time. It isn't in your face, either. And it works because, in real life, Larry David probably isn't all that keen on cryptocurrencies anyway.