Are you ready for some crypto?
With Super Bowl LVI set to feature ads from at least four cryptocurrency exchanges—and a fifth running some creative counterprogramming—the new-wave industry will look to further define itself before the masses Sunday during a pinnacle event for American marketing.
If the ads released so far are any indication, they’ll be heavily invested in a common—if somewhat ill-timed—theme: FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”
That’s the idea behind an already-released ad from Canadian crypto marketplace Bitbuy, which will run its 30-second spot on TVs north of the border.
“So many Canadians wish they bought tech stocks or real estate just 10 years ago,” an amped-up Bitbuy suit tells Kyle Lowry, a former guard for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
A trailer from Bahamas-based exchange FTX takes a similar tack, urging viewers that they shouldn’t “miss out” when the marketplace plans to give away several Bitcoin (likely valued in the low- to mid-six figures total) after the game.
The dominant blockchain advertiser to date, Singapore-based Crypto.com, hasn’t teased info about its ad yet, but its current eight-figure ad campaign features actor Matt Damon declaring that “fortune favors the brave.” American exchange Coinbase also is expected to air a spot, though details remain scant.
The promos deliver an understandable message given crypto’s boom to start the decade. The value of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has nearly quintupled, while the globe’s second-most traded cryptocurrency, Ethereum, is up more than 20-fold.
The message also might resonate more with a younger, more risk-tolerant demographic, which serves as the industry’s primary customer base. Among roughly 10,000 American adults surveyed in September by Pew Research Center, about 31% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had dabbled in cryptocurrency, compared with about 5% of those older than 50.
Still it’s a risky approach given the recent decline in cryptocurrency values, which has brought greater awareness of its volatility and raised the hackles of federal lawmakers. During a recent 10-week stretch, Bitcoin and Ethereum shed roughly half their value. (Both have rebounded a bit, but remain more than 30% off their all-time highs.)
The ads released to date also haven’t done much to explain how crypto works or why it will weather the recent downturn—questions that wary investors surely want answered.
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, echoed those concerns this week with some pre–Super Bowl needling of its competitors. The company, ironically, tabbed three NBA celebrities (including Miami Heat star and current Kyle Lowry teammate Jimmy Butler) to deliver a message of crypto caution through a social media campaign.
“I can give you advice on a lot of things. Your money isn’t one of them,” Butler told his 7 million–plus Instagram and Twitter followers in a video posted this week. “On Feb. 13, some of the biggest names are going to be telling you to get into crypto. Binance and I, we’re here to tell you: Trust yourself, and do your own research.”
We’ll see Monday if the FOMO message makes investors immediately clamor for crypto. In the meantime, enjoy the game. (And go Bengals!)
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Snowden 2.0? A pivotal data-sharing deal between the U.S. and European Union could face a rockier road to approval after two U.S. senators issued a statement Thursday accusing the CIA of conducting a “secret bulk collection program” that violates Americans’ privacy expectations. A highly redacted letter from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., called on the CIA to declassify information about unspecified data gathering practices that could undermine public trust in the agency. The request dropped as the U.S. and EU continue to negotiate over a delicate data-sharing agreement that Meta recently claimed must be enshrined for the company to continue offering Facebook and Instagram in Europe.
In other privacy news. Apple announced Thursday it’s making several changes to its AirTags that are designed to curb misuse of the tracking devices by stalkers and abusive partners. The tweaks follow reports that unwitting individuals were followed using hard-to-find AirTag trackers, which are intended to help customers find their keys, wallets, and other valuables. Following the planned changes, iPhone users will be able to use their phones to find any AirTags near them, and Apple will send alerts when possibly unwanted AirTags are detected.
Feeding the Peacock. NBCUniversal parent Comcast plans to remove high-profile shows from Hulu later this year and shift them to Peacock, the company’s flagging streaming service, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The change by NBCUniversal, which owns one-third of Hulu, would help to jump-start a wholly owned Peacock service that continues to lag well behind streaming rivals Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. While Saturday Night Live, The Voice, and other top shows currently airing on NBC would become Peacock-exclusive, some older series would remain on Hulu for the time being.
Four’s a trend? Tesla is recalling 578,600 vehicles to fix an external audio issue that could put pedestrians at greater risk of injury, Reuters reported Thursday. It’s the fourth recall in the past two weeks for the electric vehicle manufacturer, which is under added scrutiny by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most recent recall aims to fix the “Boombox” feature on four Tesla models, which could play music so loud that it drowns out a vehicle-approaching warning emitted from the cars. Tesla has said it’s unaware of any injuries resulting from the four recalls.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Food delivery going bad? As food delivery startups scramble for market share in the U.S., the industry cannibalization is already underway in Europe, Bloomberg reported Friday. Several of Europe’s leading delivery companies have seen their stock prices tank in recent weeks, punctuated by Delivery Hero’s $5.8 billion market cap loss on Thursday. The decline comes as investors increasingly worry about the long-term profitability of the food delivery sector, which remains highly fractured and subject to wild swings in demand.
From the article:
Investors have been reassessing their love for technology stocks in the face of rising bond yields and higher interest rates. But while there’s a broader shift afoot, food delivery companies are plunging disproportionately to their tech peers.
Analysts point to the unpredictable nature of the business after a pandemic-driven surge, regulatory hurdles to their business models, incessant competition from startups, and untested new businesses for why they are trailing peers.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Crypto mergers and acquisition values went up 5,000% in 2021, with many more expected this year, by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez
Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starship rocket could make its first orbital flight in March, by the Associated Press
Tesla sued for alleged discrimination at California plant, by the Associated Press
YouTube video streaming now using A.I. that mastered chess and Go, by Jeremy Kahn
NFTs may look like they’re everywhere, but they only make up 1% of the whole crypto market, by Akayla Gardner and Bloomberg
Visa had a monopoly on payments at the Olympics for 36 years. China put an end to that, by Eamon Barrett
OnlyFans gets into the NFT game, by Chris Morris
BEFORE YOU GO
Reopening a relic. Fire up the grotto and alert the Bunnies: Playboy wants to bring its (in)famous mansion to the metaverse. The world’s most famous purveyor of softcore sex says it plans to build a virtual reality Playboy Mansion, part of the company’s reinvention after years of decline in the twilight of Hugh Hefner’s reign, CNBC reported Friday. The declaration arrives as Playboy struggles to navigate changing gender mores and A&E airs a 10-part documentary series examining its seedier side. Plus, the metaverse already faces questions about virtual harassment and personal accountability, among other nefariousness.
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