Cryptocurrency firms have been shut out from this year’s round of Super Bowl commercials following a brutal stretch that included onetime industry leader FTX’s collapse into bankruptcy.
Crypto dominated the conversation at last year’s Super Bowl, with four firms — FTX, Coinbase, Crypto.com and eToro — plunking down millions of dollars for 30 seconds of ad time and spending millions more on star-studded commercials featuring the likes of comedian Larry David and NBA superstar LeBron James.
But this Sunday’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVII won’t feature a single crypto ad as embattled firms contend with a wave of layoffs, bankruptcies and unprecedented legal scrutiny. The arrest of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who is accused of bilking customers out of billions, was a key factor.
“There’s zero representation in that category on the day at all,” Mark Evans, executive vice president of ad sales for Fox Sports, told the Associated Press.
Prior to FTX’s bankruptcy, two crypto companies already had Super Bowl commercials “booked and done,” while two others were “on the one-yard line,” according to Evans. Those deals evaporated as the extent of FTX’s troubles became public knowledge.
FTX and its competitors bought up Super Bowl ads last year as part of a major marketing blitz meant to help the firms, and the crypto sector as a whole, gain mainstream acceptance. The Super Bowl is the most-watched event of the year, drawing nearly 100 million viewers in the US last year.
The now-infamous FTX commercial featured David cynically dismissing famous inventions throughout the ages — such as the creation of the wheel and Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Near the end of the commercial, David dismissed FTX as a doomed project.
The commercial proved to be eerily accurate once FTX imploded — leading some internet users to quip that David had been “right” all along. Meanwhile, David was named as a defendant in an ongoing class-action lawsuit filed by jilted FTX investors.
Bankman-Fried is under house arrest and faces up to 115 years in prison if convicted on various fraud charges.
Coinbase’s ad, which featured a floating QR code, was so popular that it caused the platform’s website to briefly crash during the Super Bowl.
Crypto.com’s commercial featured James talking to a younger version of himself, while eToro’s commercial simply nudged viewers to trade crypto and other assets on its platform.
Coinbase, Crypto.com and eToro have each conducted layoffs over the last year during a downturn in the sector.
Through Monday, the price of bitcoin has plunged nearly 48% to $27,965 compared to the same day one year ago.
The glut of crypto ads angered some lawmakers, including Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who questioned why they had such a prominent display during the Super Bowl.
“The ads left a few things out. They didn’t mention the fraud, scams, and outright theft,” Brown said during a congressional hearing last February. “The ads didn’t point out that you can lose big in crypto’s huge price swings. They didn’t tell you about the high fees pocketed by the crypto companies.”
This year, Super Bowl LVII commercial slots sold for between $6 million and $7 million per 30-second window. Some ad deals surpassed the $7 million threshold.
Alcohol brands replaced the crypto platforms as the Super Bowl’s biggest ad spenders. Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch snapped up three minutes of ad time, while Heineken, Diageo, Remy Martin and Molson Coors are also represented.
Super Bowl LVII kicks off Sunday with a battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
With Post wires