Tremendous Bowl LVI might have been the primary crypto bowl.
It’s not that cryptocurrency-related advertisements utterly overwhelmed the Tremendous Bowl business breaks to the exclusion of all different ads. In actual fact, there have been extra advertisements for the Tremendous Bowl’s extra conventional fare of booze, vehicles, and film trailers than there have been crypto commercials.
However cryptocurrency made a splash on the Tremendous Bowl — one of many most-watched and highest-profile promoting occasions on the yr — in a bid to try to win over mainstream prospects (along with a largely younger and male minority that’s embraced digital currency so far.) However regardless of the hype, not one of the cryptocurrency commercials on the massive recreation made any try to really promote folks on something apart from spending more cash on crypto.
LeBron James was there (together with his de-aged youthful self) to promote Crypto.com. Larry David in contrast lacking out on crypto to passing up the wheel, the moon touchdown, or the concept of moveable music for FTX. eToro bought being a part of the crypto neighborhood as a new wave of “social investing.” Budweiser’s Bud Mild Subsequent was promoted with NFT drops. And Coinbase’s bouncing QR code supplied free Bitcoin for patrons who signed up — which, whereas missing celeb cameos, was nonetheless among the many most talked-about advertisements of the night time. All advised, it was maybe the most important debut but for crypto on the nationwide stage, surpassing even the seemingly infinite Matt Damon advertisements that haunted the NFL’s regular season.
A few of these advertisements had been remarkably efficient. Coinbase’s commercial, in particular, was a standout, with the corporate reporting an astonishing 20 million hits on its web site in a single minute — sufficient visitors to quickly crash the app and probably the most the corporate had ever had. (One thing that will have been the purpose of the enigmatic commercial within the first place.) The next morning additionally noticed Coinbase seem because the quantity two most downloaded iPhone app on the App Retailer.
However it’s equally telling what parts of the blockchain boon weren’t current on the Tremendous Bowl. For probably the most half, the commercials centered virtually solely on exchanges and probably the most primary side of the way to extra simply spend money on cryptocurrency. There have been no advertisements shilling NFT drops, no Bored Ape appearances in the course of the halftime present, or perhaps a point out of the NFL’s commemorative NFTs for the large recreation.
Nor had been there commercials selling the theoretically extra sensible makes use of of crypto, as a part of the “Web3” pitch that envisions blockchain know-how underpinning large swaths of the way forward for the web, a lot in the identical means that user-generated content material and social media drove the Internet 2.0 period.
If this yr’s Tremendous Bowl was meant to be the blockchain’s massive public debut, it was remarkably brief on pitches that specify what cryptocurrency know-how will really do or the way it’ll enhance issues in customers’ day-to-day lives. As an alternative, crypto’s massive mainstream pitch was a flashy, celebrity-studded entryway to get new consumers into the blockchain hype wheel.
The most important Tremendous Bowl crypto gamers had been simply selling the thought of cryptocurrency basically, telling viewers that now could be the time to purchase into blockchain, providing free deposits of Bitcoin for signing up, and pushing the narrative that not getting on board with crypto would imply lacking out on the following massive factor.
“If you wish to make historical past, you gotta name your personal pictures,” LeBron tells his youthful self earlier than a “Fortune favors the courageous” slogan pops on display. “Do you wish to be Larry David, caught previously and skipping out on humanity’s biggest innovations, or do you wish to be King James?” the Tremendous Bowl’s crypto exchanges ask. There’s no proof of the worth of cryptocurrency or the utility in proudly owning Bitcoin or Ethereum — simply an try and drum up FOMO.
In fact, not one of the commercials right here talked about the quiet a part of how cryptocurrency works: extra buy-in from new prospects means costs will proceed to rise for cryptocurrencies, making current crypto believers (and the businesses like Crypto.com or FTX that facilitate these gross sales) extra rich in a means that begins to look slightly like a towering pyramid scheme dressed up within the veneer of “the way forward for the web.”
Clearly, the cryptocurrency corporations that shelled out hundreds of thousands for Tremendous Bowl advertisements assume it’s well worth the try and get extra mainstream prospects, given the estimated $7 million price tag for a 30-second advert on this yr’s recreation.
2022 wasn’t the primary time the Tremendous Bowl served as a hotbed for hyped, up-and-coming know-how. Twenty-two years in the past, Tremendous Bowl XXXIV noticed the then-St. Louis Rams face off in opposition to the Tennessee Titans, with a whopping 17 dot-com startups shopping for commercials (in comparison with simply two the yr earlier than). Twenty years later — and after the burst of the dot-com bubble — virtually all those companies are extinct.
It’s not clear but the place cryptocurrency falls in that hype cycle or if it even is a comparable case in any respect. It’s doable that Tremendous Bowl LVI is simply the calm earlier than the storm, and subsequent yr’s massive recreation will likely be swamped with Web3 startups all pitching the world on the most recent and biggest blockchain-based improvements. Or perhaps, just like the dot-com increase earlier than it, these crypto corporations will likely be defunct this time subsequent yr, and we’ll look again at 2022 as nothing greater than an odd curiosity.
However one factor is obvious from blockchain’s massive Tremendous Bowl debut: if the know-how is to reach the mainstream, high-minded rhetoric about how Bitcoin is the following smartphone, moon touchdown, or wheel gained’t be sufficient. At Tremendous Bowl LVI, cryptocurrency guarantees an ouroboros of nothingness: it’s the long run as a result of it’s the long run, and in case you miss out, you gained’t be a part of it. In some unspecified time in the future, although, if blockchain know-how goes to have any likelihood at surviving with mainstream prospects as something however silicon snake oil, it’ll have to really ship on a few of these guarantees.