Major crypto companies, including Kraken and Bitcoin ETF providers BlackRock and Grayscale, have shunned prestigious advertizing slots during Sunday's Super Bowl LVIII, the championship game of the United States National Football League (NFL).
Even Coinbase, currently focused on efforts to lobby for comprehensive digital asset legislation in the country, didn't take the opportunity to get its message in front of the estimated 100 million global viewers.
Back in 2022, crypto companies were strongly represented at the event, as FTX splashed $6.5 million to join other industry giants like Coinbase and Crypto.com at the show, with an advert featuring Larry David urging viewers “not to miss out on the next big thing.” Unfortunately, that 'next big thing' collapsed 9 months later wiping billions off the crypto market cap, and Larry David ended up facing a lawsuit.
In 2023, the crypto industry chose not to promote itself at Super Bowl LVII, allegedly due to a lack of funds amid the ongoing industry crisis.
One of the reasons for the continued lack of crypto interest in the event this year might be that the Super Bowl's main target is a U.S. audience. The U.S. has repeatedly proven itself to be among the least crypto-friendly countries, so major players might be focussing on more global promotion, certainly a sentiment shared by Kraken CMO, Mayur Gupta.
"The Super Bowl is a very U.S.-centric event, and the next wave of crypto users will come from all around the world, not just the United States.”
Gupta also suggested that the shift in Kraken's marketing strategy was a conscious move away from aggressive hype-based advertising towards raising awareness and knowledge around crypto. This could be a prudent decision, given the high-profile scandals (and lawsuits) within the industry.
“If the last wave of crypto marketing was all about hype and FOMO, 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.”
If the major crypto players do start to focus on education rather than promising unbelievable revenues, it could turn out to be a more sustainable marketing direction. However, skipping a second Super Bowl is not enough reason to start heralding a 'healthy' new trend.
Besides, we mustn't forget that some market players continue to successfully gain market share through 'bullish' promotions. Crypto.com is actively partnering with other big sporting events including Formula 1 and UFC, and has invested in naming rights for the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. These sponsorships are reportedly paying off by significantly expanding the exchange's user base with sports fans. However, this didn't stretch as far as a Super Bowl appearance.
Perhaps the crypto companies have become more thrifty and cautious after a year on the bench, or the returns from the crypto ad-parade at the 2022 Super Bowl simply weren't as lucrative as expected? It could even be possible that the divorce has been partly led or at least sanctioned by the NFL. The U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) has recently been subjected to a class-action lawsuit seeking to hold it liable for marketing deals made with now-defunct crypto-lender Voyager Digital, so other sporting bodies might prefer not to be too closely associated with the industry.
We will have to wait for the 2025 event to Observe how this trend develops.