Anyone hoping to see crypto ads during this year’s Super Bowl will be disappointed.
FOX Business has learned most major cryptocurrency firms will once again sit on the sidelines during the biggest marketing event of the year when the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs face off in Las Vegas Sunday for Super Bowl LVIII.
While the $1.7 trillion digital asset market is in a much better place than this time last year during the so-called “crypto winter,” crypto companies don’t have the money they once had for advertising, and those that do believe they can better spend their ad dollars away from the spotlight.
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Kraken, the second-biggest crypto exchange in the U.S. is not taking out a Super Bowl ad.
“The Super Bowl is a very US-centric event, and the next wave of crypto users will come from all around the world, not just the United States,” Mayur Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer at Kraken tells FOX Business. “If the last wave of crypto marketing was all about hype and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), this current wave has to be rooted in education and awareness for the substance and true value proposition of crypto as a movement that will bring financial freedom and inclusion.”
The U.S.’s largest crypto exchange Coinbase is focused this year on directing money to lobbying Congress for comprehensive digital asset legislation and making campaign contributions to crypto-friendly politicians in Washington, D.C., ahead of the 2024 elections. It is unclear whether the company, who has been a past Super Bowl advertiser and runs TV ads frequently, will be featured during Sunday’s game.
But it’s not just the exchanges that will be missing from Sunday’s ad palooza, where hundreds of millions will be spent on various commercials for beer, cars and snacks. Issuers of the “spot” Bitcoin exchange-traded funds will not be featured despite a handful of them launching TV commercials in the weeks leading up to the SEC’s approval of eleven new spot Bitcoin ETFs Jan. 10, FOX Business has learned.
For instance, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager and provider of the iShares Bitcoin ETF, is sitting out the Super Bowl, people with direct knowledge of the matter say.
Even crypto asset manager Grayscale, which owns $21 billion in assets in its Bitcoin ETF and has launched a billboard campaign in New York City subways and airports nationwide, is not advertising during Sunday’s big game, sources say.
While some Bitcoin proponents may see this as a missed opportunity, it’s not surprising that Bitcoin ETF commercials will be absent from the Super Bowl.
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According to CBS, nearly all its Super Bowl ad slots were sold out by early November, and the Bitcoin ETFs were not approved by the SEC until two months later.
But macro factors are also at work. The industry has been cut in half since its bull run in 2021 that unwound with the implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX crypto exchange.
FTX was a prominent advertiser during the 2022 Super Bowl when it paid $6.5 million to appear alongside other industry giants like Coinbase and Crypto.com. The commercial featured Larry David, who later confirmed that Bankman-Fried paid him $10 million to star in the 30-second ad promoting FTX as “the next big thing.”
Just nine months later, FTX descended into bankruptcy, and Bankman-Fried would get outed for spending stolen customer funds on expensive brand deals like the Super Bowl and the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena, for which he agreed to shell out $135 million.
Bankman-Fried has since been convicted on seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and awaits sentencing in March.
On top of the FTX debacle, regulatory uncertainty is still very much top of mind for many crypto companies, meaning legal expenses take precedent over marketing and ad campaigns.
Coinbase, for instance, is locked in a contentious court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges the exchange is violating securities laws by operating as an unregistered exchange, offering similarly unregistered securities products as digital assets.
A southern district of New York judge will decide whether the SEC can move forward with its case against Coinbase in the coming days.
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