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Published: Feb 14, 2022 5 min read
collage of many crypto ads on the Superbowl 2022
Money; YouTube

Cryptocurrency ads scored a touchdown at the Super Bowl Sunday night.

There was a lot of buzz ahead of the game about how crypto exchanges Crypto.com, FTX and Coinbase would use their high-profile commercial spots in the 2022 Super Bowl — and they didn't disappoint.

Crypto.com's ad, titled "The Moment of Truth," featured basketball star LeBron James telling his younger self that, "If you want to make history, you've got to call your own shots." FTX went with skeptic comedian Larry David, who traveled through time to be unimpressed with inventions like the wheel, the fork and the lightbulb, and then the crypto exchange told viewers "Don't be like Larry."

Coinbase's commercial was simple: A QR code floating across the screen took viewers who scanned it to Coinbase's site with a promotion to get $15 in Bitcoin when signing up and enter a sweepstakes. eToro, a social trading platform where users can buy and sell stocks and crypto, also got in on the crypto action with an advertisement starring a flock of traders recruiting newcomers.

Were the commercials a success? They definitely got people talking during the big game and — in Coinbase's case — to the exchange's website. The Coinbase commercial was so popular, it crashed the company's site.

"@coinbase just saw more traffic than we've ever encountered, but our teams pulled together and only had to throttle traffic for a few minutes. We are now back and ready for you at http://drops.coinbase.com," the company's chief product officer tweeted Sunday night. Coinbase's stock price slipped in pre-trading Monday following the outage but later recovered.

Coinbase's advertisement snagged the top spot on AdAge and Adweek's lists of the best Super Bowl 2022 commercials. FTX came in at number four on Adweek's list.

Marketing experts showered Coinbase's commercial with praise on LinkedIn, calling it "brilliant" and saying it "changed the game" for Super Bowl ads. Karen Chi, vice president of Cameo for Business at Cameo, the app in which you can get personalized messages from celebrities, chimed in to say "Coinbase won the Super Bowl."

Super Bowl ads started conversations about crypto

Of course, not all reviews raved about the ads. Some viewers took to Twitter to express their confusion about the Coinbase QR code and distaste for the crypto ads in general.

Still, the crypto ad takeover definitely started conversations — and that's what the companies wanted. As Derek Rucker, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, told Money last week, there's a lot of confusion about crypto, but the advertisements broadcast to millions of viewers could have started conversations about cryptocurrency between friends, even if they were unfamiliar with how it works.

Getting people talking is often a good thing for the crypto market: Meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu have seen their prices soar based almost solely on internet hype.

The Super Bowl crypto ads were definitely effective, evidenced by the fact we're talking about them at all, says Hanna Halaburda, an associate professor at NYU Stern School of Business.

Will the crypto ads have a serious impact on the crypto industry? Time will tell. Experts say it could help build legitimization. But to move forward, the crypto market needs more than just buzz, says Richard Smith, the CEO of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and a financial cycles expert.

"What the crypto market really needs are serious projects that solve real problems," Smith says. "This buzz, which is really just 'come on in and gamble with your friends,' is not the kind of buzz the crypto market needs right now."

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