Of course crypto went all-in on the Super Bowl

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Hypothetically speaking, let’s say that you’re a part of a pyramid scheme. Maybe you know that’s what it is, or maybe you truly believe in it, but either way, it’s a pyramid scheme. And in order for it to run, you need a constant flow of new blood. You need new people who don’t really understand what you’re doing, but they see people making money and want in. And let’s say that your pyramid scheme has been having a real rough go of things lately, and you’re down big. Getting a bunch of new people in could allow you to cash out. What would be the ideal space to reach lots of folks with a promise of wealth and a message of FOMO for anyone who fails to get on board?

Spoiler alert: It takes place on a Sunday in February. That’s right: Four cryptocurrency companies — all crypto exchanges where people turn real money into fake money in hopes that the lines go up — managed to get national advertisements during the biggest televised event of the year, Super Bowl LVI.

Coinbase got the most attention, broadcasting a DVD screensaver-style QR code for 60 seconds to lure folks into visiting their app, which then crashed. You’d think that if you drop more than $6.5 million for a commercial, you might want to put some money into maintaining your servers, but hey, that’s just me. Those who did get through to the Coinbase app were met with an offer: $15 of Bitcoin, just for signing up. This is, of course, a common tactic of any gambling site: “Here’s some funny money, it’s not worth anything but it’s enough to get you hooked.”

Other crypto exchanges went a more conventional route, pulling in celebrities for their spots. FTX, another exchange, tapped comedian Larry David, who spent the ad dismissing major technological innovations throughout human history, including the wheel, toilets, electricity, and democracy — which, sure? Those all seem equal to crypto, I guess. The ad ends with the message, “Don’t be like Larry. Don’t miss out on the next big thing.” What world-changing innovation crypto offers is never explained in the ad — the real message is that if you don’t get it, you’re a fool.





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