Crypto Leaders Tackle Super Bowl Ad Campaigns: A Bitcoin Giveaway and More

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In an increasingly competitive landscape — and a testament to an industry that is becoming mainstream — crypto companies are spending millions on marketing campaigns during the Super Bowl. While there are obvious reasons for this new phenomenon (such as standing out in what is rapidly becoming a crowded field) some crypto actors are also trying to win over economic regulators.

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Crypto exchange FTX — whose co-founder and CEO is 29-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried — announced that it’s not only making its Big Game debut, but will also be giving away a large amount of Bitcoin as an added viewer incentive. This is not FTX’s first foray into the sports industry: in June of 2021, for example, the company struck a $135 million deal to rename the Miami Heat’s stadium the FTX Arena, per NBC Miami.

“We’re giving some Bitcoin away! How much? $1 million worth?! $1.5 million worth?!!?! We don’t actually know yet. The later our Big Game ad airs, the more Bitcoin you can win. See you Sunday! #FTXcontest,” FTX tweeted on Feb. 7.

Crypto Analysts Suggest Super Bowl Ads Are Positive Move

Brock Pierce, Bitcoin Foundation chairman, told GOBankingRates that in addition to the ads, many of the events around Los Angeles during Super Bowl week are going to be hosted, sponsored, or held by cryptocurrency companies.

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“This is another opportunity for cryptocurrency to take center stage and get attention from everyday Americans. Sam Bankman-Fried is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the space and has done well to promote crypto through his endorsement of FTX Arena and other sponsorships and giveaways, like this during the Super Bowl,” Pierce said.

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Bankman-Fried told The Washington Post that the ads are as much about courting U.S. regulators as getting customers to download its trading app.

“We want to make sure that we’re painting, hopefully, a healthy image of ourselves and the industry,” Bankman-Fried told WaPo. “We’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to grow our U.S. business — a lot of that is working with U.S. regulators on bringing new products to market.”

His stance is widely lauded in the crypto industry, as several experts say that he is setting an example.

Dawn Newton, co-founder and COO of Netki, told GOBankingRates that Bankman-Fried has it right about working with regulators.

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“We need a framework of smart and fair regulations to help prevent scams and fraud, while at the same time ensuring that we enable cryptocurrency and its future innovations to flourish. There are lots of potential investors who only hear the bad news about crypto as these incidents have been dominating headlines recently, and are scared off as a result,” Newton said. “Regulations will signal to these people that this an industry worth investing in, and, given that no one knows more about crypto than people who work in crypto, it’s in our best interest to work with regulators to help them craft the best regulations possible, ones that ensure safety without stifling innovation.”

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Armel Leslie, partner at PR consultancy Peaks Strategies, agreed. Leslie told GOBankingRates that there is no better venue to capture the attention and imagination of Americans than the Super Bowl — and that Bankman-Fried knows the value of brand awareness is worth much more than his spend.

“By taking a bottom-up grassroots approach, combined with a top-down lobbying effort in D.C., he is proving to be extremely savvy as there will be many electoral races, at all levels, that are tipped by a candidate’s stance on crypto,” Leslie said.

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Crypto Industry Growth Becoming Apparent — which bought the (former) Staples Arena naming rights in Nov. 2021 for $700 million, according to The Wall Street Journal — will also be running its first Super Bowl ad. The company has already deployed about $65 million on its advertising campaign with actor Matt Damon, Bloomberg reported.

Mark Elenowitz, co-founder of Upstream, told GOBankingRates that if you step back and look at how far the crypto industry has come in the last few years, “it’s just mind-boggling.”

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“I mean, we’re now advertising during the biggest television event of the year and naming stadiums after it. People are using crypto for useful endeavors. It’s become a mainstream topic, and not just because of hacks and issues,” he said. 

“Exchanges like FTX and Coinbase are offering crypto-focused services that are competing now with banks. I think, moreover, that FTX has taken a smart approach. They of course are marketing gurus, but they understand the importance of working with regulators to ensure that this industry offers the best — and safest — services out there. Indeed, FTX and others are setting a good example. Crypto businesses should make a concerted effort to get ahead of the incoming flurry of regulations and ensure that they are fully compliant with existing securities law. I think these Super Bowl ads are a great opportunity to show that side of crypto — it’s a lot of fun.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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