With the Super Bowl less than a week away, there are only a few certainties. The game will be Sunday. The Eagles will play the Chiefs. And this year, there will be no crypto ads.
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“In this sense, massive expenditures on things like Super Bowl commercials are premature or misguided marketing efforts at best, and at worst, the equivalent of promoting an unregulated casino to unsuspecting and uninformed viewers,” said the communications professional, who Grid agreed not to name so they could speak freely about the industry. “It’s difficult for crypto companies and projects to separate themselves from the pack, but history indicates that shelling out millions of dollars on advertising slots is not necessarily an ideal marketing strategy. And if a crypto company secures a Super Bowl ad slot or similar, this should not be misperceived as a sign of legitimacy or expected future success.”
The appeal of the Super Bowl
While crypto will be absent from the big game this year, industry insiders see sports fans as a good match for their products.
“The sports fan demographic is often young, male, and increasingly connected to sports betting apps where they build an appetite for financial risk,” said another communications professional with around 15 crypto clients.
Silvia Lacayo, head of marketing at Bitstamp USA, a cryptocurrency exchange, said Super Bowl ads and stadium naming rights are not bad marketing choices per se, but questioned whether they are the best choice for the now-struggling crypto industry.
“I think our industry can add better value by driving meaningful education to help people increase their knowledge of and comfort with cryptocurrencies,” she said. “On top of education, crypto firms should focus on investing in better user experiences, products, and customer service. These core fundamentals are what drive more customers to our platform and keep existing customers engaged.”
And sometimes, it’s hard to tell if expensive Super Bowl ads and other sponsorship campaigns actually pay off.
Ryan Gorman, principal at Gorman Strategies, a branding, media, and reputation management consultancy, said that he’s worked on several projects involving sports sponsorships with NASCAR teams, soccer teams, and other sports organizations, but quantifying the return on investment for these things is difficult.
“They’re more prestige-type sponsorships and more prestige-type activities, and they’re meant to be able to help provide activations for clients or investors and it gives off the impression of being bigger than you might necessarily be,” he said.
“I think that there’s a reticence among many people in the industry to put themselves back out there again, in such a public way, because a lot of people that are in digital assets and blockchain, they’re engineers or developers, not public relations or marketing specialists and they’re not used to that type of criticism,” said Gorman.
Another communications professional though, put it differently.
“The biggest reason why it wouldn’t be a good idea [to advertise at the Super Bowl this year], from a communications point of view, is that just puts you in the headlights of the feds,” said the professional. “And it’s ethically not a great idea to just be shilling crypto through snappy advertising when millions of viewers could be leave that [ad] misinformed and get phished or scammed or something awful.”
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