If Sunday’s Super Bowl ads are any indication, crypto has truly arrived in mainstream culture. And if you didn’t catch the game, you can watch the ads here, featuring Larry David, LeBron James, and a QR code that crashed Coinbase’s website within minutes.
Just thirty seconds of airtime during NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast cost a record high of $6.5 million yesterday, according to NPR, which means these full-minute ads didn’t come cheap.
But cryptocurrency companies have plenty of money to throw around these days. Especially Bahamas-based FTX Trading, which is reportedly already worth $32 billion, despite being founded in 2019.
It’s official. Your favorite stars are all doing crypto ads now. Sure, you could be mildly disappointed in a guy like Matt Damon for doing that bizarre spot for Crypto.com where he basically questioned your manhood if you didn’t buy into fake money. But when a major cynic like Larry David signs up, you know it’s mainstream.
David appeared in an ad for FTX Trading where the comedian plays the natural skeptic throughout history. But the joke is that the Curb Your Enthusiasm star is skeptical of all the wrong things. The invention of the fork? What’s wrong with just your hands? Who needs a toilet, when shitting outside is what civilized humans do? You get the idea.
The ad, which is available on YouTube, tries to address mainstream skepticism around crypto by ridiculing anyone who questions it as a risky investment. But in this case, buyer beware, because crypto really is a risky investment. In fact, bitcoin, the world’s biggest crypto coin, has lost over 30% of its value since November.
There’s also an extended cut of the ad only available on the web where we see a bit more of Larry’s skepticism. How much did the millionaire comedian take home for this spot? That part isn’t clear. But negotiations took six weeks, according to the New York Times. You can bet it was significant.
Crypto.com burst into mainstream TV with an ad featuring Matt Damon but the company’s Super Bowl spot decided to go with a more sport-relevant star. LeBron James talks with a version of his younger self in the spot that aired Sunday.
The ad, which is available on YouTube, shows James in his childhood bedroom, complete with a CGI-created version of the basketball player in high school. Crypto.com is still using the same tagline as the Damon ads, “Fortune Favors the Brave,” but this new ad is less about comparing people who are skeptical of bitcoin weak.
Oddly enough, James doesn’t tell his younger self to buy bitcoin in 2009 and sell at an all-time high in November of 2022, arguably the most valuable thing a time traveler could do financially. Because, again, if you got into crypto recently, you’ve probably just lost money at this point.
Coinbase had one of the stranger ads of the Super Bowl, with a floating QR code that changed colors while doing nothing more than looking like an old school screensaver. There was no narration, just a QR code that people were obviously encouraged to scan.
You can watch the ad, which is available on YouTube thanks to USA Today, but there’s not much to see. You have to scan the code, which brings you to a website that crashed within minutes of the ad airing. The website, drops.coinbase.com gives people $15 of free bitcoin for creating an account at Coinbase. Users who already have a Coinbase account are offered the chance to sign up for $3 million in prizes.
Yes, scanning a random QR code is a very bad idea if you don’t know who’s behind it. But that didn’t stop plenty of people doing just that.