SEC Accused of Mocking Retail Investors with Ads Warning about Crypto and Meme Stocks
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SEC Accused of Mocking Retail Investors with Ads Warning about Crypto and Meme Stocks

2 months ago

Although the ads have gained hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, reaction hasn't been universally positive — with a former SEC branch chief among the critics.

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A new ad campaign that warns Americans about the dangers of investing in crypto has received a backlash on social media.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has released a series of commercials called "Investomania," which features contestants on a make-believe game show.

In one advert, the contestant chooses the Celebrity Endorsements category, and a video begins to play that says:

"You should buy crypto. Trust me, I'm an actor."

The contestant then excitedly declares "I'm in!" — only for a big red cross to appear on the screen, with a narrator explaining:

"Investing is not a game. So be careful where you get your advice."

Another ad shows a man confronted with game show categories that include stock tips from your uncle, FOMO, crypto to the moon, tulip bulbs, and timing the market.

He chooses meme stocks and hits an invest button, but a buzzer goes. Cash then falls through a trapdoor on a table in front of him, and he's hit in the face by a custard pie.

A different player says she's going to do her own research before picking an investment, prompting the pie-covered man to ask "We can do research?" as the audience titters.

Mixed Reaction

Although the ads have gained hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, reaction hasn't been universally positive — with a former SEC branch chief among the critics.

Lisa Braganca claimed the ads disparaged investors who opted for meme stocks — and said the money used to create this campaign would have been better spent "stopping short seller abuses of retail."

And @unusual_whales attacked the tone of the SEC's campaign, writing:

"It seems to trivialize millions of retail investors, seemingly diminishes one of the most important market movements of 2021, and appears to poke fun at millions of average people joining the market. Ouch."

Others didn't subscribe to this view, and argued that the ad aims to be entertaining and attention grabbing while underlining the importance of research and education.

Despite the debate, the SEC's ad does make a compelling point about celebrity endorsements, which have become exceedingly common in the crypto space.

One particularly ill-fated post saw Kim Kardashian endorse an altcoin called Ethereum Max, which lost 98% of its value in the weeks that followed.

This year's Super Bowl also featured a flurry of A-listers promoting crypto exchanges.

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