Did the Crypto companies miss their Super Bowl opportunity?

Many considered this year’s Super Bowl LVI to be the ‘Crypto Bowl’.

This sowed the seeds for many water-cooler comparisons for those old enough to remember Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, which featured ads from 14 dot-com companies.

By 2002, several of the 2000 Super Bowl advertisers – including OnMoney.com, OurBeginning.com, Pets.com, Epidemic.com (a great name today thanks to COVID-19) – were out of business.

With that in mind, how did the ads from the crypto class of 2022 perform during the big game?

Watching the ads from Coinbase, Crypto.com, and FTX, during the game, I can’t help thinking that they missed opportunities. While they all scored points for name recognition, I don’t think that any of the companies took advantage of the opportunity of reaching such a large and diverse audience. Though FTX and the Coinbase ads were ranked among the top-5 for virility according to research from Hootsuite, many of those that engaged were already crypto aware. Furthermore, none of the crypto commercials made the top-10 in USA Today’s Ad Meter (though two made the bottom five).

Given the audience size, market education and instilling consumer confidence in cryptocurrencies should have been the goal for all crypto advertisers. But the only crypto advertiser that might have helped to educate prospective customers was eToro. By focusing on eToro’s large community, the company highlighted its longstanding positioning as an investment platform and community built on social collaboration and investor education. Unfortunately, that did not impress the thousands of panelists rating Super Bowl ads as part of USA Today’s Ad Meter, which ranked eToro’s ad second to last ahead of only the ad from Coinbase, which was ranked last. Coinbase did win a Super Clio as the best ad in the Super Bowl, but Main Street doesn’t always agree with Madison Avenue.

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Binance, which did not advertise during the Super Bowl ran a video on Twitter of Miami Heat basketball player Jimmy Butler encouraging viewers to trust themselves and do their own research. This message provided strong differentiation versus the crypto Super Bowl ads.

Coinbase deserves credit for driving millions of prospective users to the company website and app, rising from 186 to two in the iPhone App Store. That said, the company missed the opportunity to instill confidence in cryptocurrencies, a major downside that is holding back mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Given crypto challenges that it’s complicated, not very regulated, uses too much energy to mine, and its use in ransomware attacks, why not show senior citizens and security or law enforcement officials who use crypto? Why not film an ad at the El Salvadorian beach destination El Zonte, a town which has adopted the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as the local currency?

At the end of the day, the cryptocurrency market is hurt by the declining price of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other leading cryptocurrencies. Though Coinbase and the other Super Bowl advertisers don’t control the price of cryptocurrencies, an influx of new users will probably change the trajectory of cryptocurrencies. That, and not company branding, should have been the objective of the Super Bowl advertising for the crypto companies.

A commercial showing a grandmother buying milk for her grandchild, and a tourist purchasing all they need seamlessly, and with ease, without speaking the local language will do more to overturn the perceptual issues that are holding back the greater adoption of cryptocurrencies than commercials featuring Larry David, virtual Lebron James, or a scrolling QR code.

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