Crypto suspends the Super Bowl after a miserable year

Well that was quick.

Less than a year ago, as the Rams and Bengals dueled on the gridiron of SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI, more than 100 million viewers were faced with ads promising a chance to get in The wave of the future: Cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (or NFTs), and a bloated ecosystem of blockchain-based digital commerce.

LeBron James has made a promo for the trading platform. Coinbase, another crypto exchange, spent $14 million on a QR code gimmick. And who could forget that Larry David, in an ad, pointed out that crypto was an invention on par with electoral democracy and the wheel?

It was a bold marketing gamble that was so eye-catching that people dubbed the event “Crypto Bowl” even before the game took place. And yet, crypto is expected to be almost completely absent from the proceedings this year. Mark Evans, Executive Vice President of Ad Sales at Fox Sports, said the Associated Press that there would be a “null representation” of crypto during the broadcast.

“It’s definitely positive that there will be no celebrity-backed crypto ads at this year’s Super Bowl,” said Bonnie Patten, executive director of consumer advocacy organization Truth in Advertising, in an email. “If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that consumers shouldn’t take investment advice from celebrity endorsers.”

It’s an impressively quick reversal, but hardly surprising.

In the time since Los Angeles hosted the last Super Bowl, the broader crypto economy — which includes digital currencies, tradable digital artworks, and a grab bag of other online assets — has plummeted undeniable burglary.

The crypto market entered protracted decline around the middle of last year (although bitcoin enjoyed it a small rally in January). Coinbase and other crypto companies are fire people. NFT sales are shrinkage. Big industry players like Celsius, Luna, and Three Arrows Capital have collapsed, while others, like the developer behind crypto-centric video game Axie Infinity, have faced repeated scandals. Hacks and scams continue to flood the space; A regulatory backlash appears to be either imminent or already there.

Perhaps the most visible example of crypto’s plummeting prestige, however, is the spectacular demise of FTX, the same crypto exchange that David (of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame) last time called a turning point in human civilization.

FTX filed for bankruptcy in November, and her ex-boss Sam Bankman-Fried – once considered a child prodigy – now sits underneath house arrest while facing federal money laundering and fraud charges. (Bankman-Fried hat pleaded not guilty.)

“FTX’s collapse has left a stigma in the industry, although much of FTX’s alleged scam is what I would describe as simple scams,” said Josh White, an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University and a former financial economist at Securities – and Stock Exchange Commission. “That stigma puts them under scrutiny from regulators and Congress… so the drop in ad spending is prudent.”

The era of celebrities endorsing crypto apps is likely over for the foreseeable future, White added via email. (When the crypto market was better, you could find Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton demoing NFTs on late-night TV, or Post Malone and The Weeknd putting crypto references in a music video.)

“Rather than using celebrities to legitimize or accelerate crypto adoption or attract new customers, many of the exchanges, like Coinbase, are using their money to endorse or petition for regulation or law changes,” White wrote.

Fox Sports chief executive Evans told the AP that four crypto companies had ads in the works, but the plans fell through when Bankman-Fried fell out of favor. AdAge reports that a small game development company, Limit Break, has a 30-second NFT giveaway set to broadcast.

Instead of the crypto industry, viewers can instead expect pitches from streaming services, alcohol and snack brands, film studios, and car companies.

However, it will not be the end of the crypto drama.

David, Tom Brady and a number of other A-listers who have promoted FTX are facing a federal class action lawsuit alleging they touted unregistered securities.

Whether this case, or similar cases, will permanently dampen the longstanding links between crypto capital and celebrity influence remains to be seen.

Also not yet clear is how long it will be before the Super Bowl advertising market christens crypto’s putative successor: generative artificial intelligence, or software that can produce (nominally) original text, art, and media. Generative AI modules like that very popular ChatGPT have taken the internet by storm in recent months and are now receiving significant attention from Silicon Valley mainstays such as Google And Microsoft. They seem like a shoe-in for Big Tech’s next big obsession.

This may not be the year that Generative AI takes the throne – a ChatGPT driven one Advert for avocados was supposed to be in the works but couldn’t finish in time. Nevertheless, it is probably only a matter of time before artificial intelligence finds its way into the big game.

Will Super Bowl LVIII Be the First to Show Machine-Created Ads? Check back next year to find out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *