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Sometimes Super Bowl ads show someone has too much money to burn

February 14, 2022, 10:43 AM UTC

Good morning.

I’m a Super Bowl ad addict. The costly spots give the world’s best marketing teams a once-a-year opportunity to show their stuff. Sometimes they amuse (thank you, Doritos and Irish Spring). Sometimes they fall flat (sorry, Michelob and Disney+). Sometimes they are worth it for the talent (Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus belong together, and Toyota’s “Keeping Up With the Jones” was inspired). And then, occasionally, they just show someone has too much money to burn. 

One notable relic of the last category was MicroStrategy’s ad in 2000. What was a business-software maker doing advertising at the Super Bowl? At the time, the company was pushing an intelligence-everywhere vision of the future that caused its stock to enjoy GameStop exuberance. When the ad ran, CEO Michael Saylor had a paper net worth of $7 billion. A little more than a month later, the news broke that the SEC was investigating, and the company’s stock crashed to earth.

These days, Saylor is best known for his advocacy of cryptocurrency. So it’s fitting that many of this year’s Super Bowl head scratchers came from the crypto crowd. I went on Twitter to try to find out what the bouncing QR code commercial from Coinbase was supposed to mean. Never mind, I was told—they are giving away Bitcoin.

But it was the FTX–Larry David ad that proved to me it’s possible to be riding a wave and be inspired at the same time. My favorite of the game. I’m eager to hear from CEO Daily readers who had other favorites.

Worth pointing out that Saylor’s 2000 vision of “intelligence everywhere” eventually came to pass—but more thanks to Apple, Google, and the like than to MicroStrategy. I have no doubt 20 years on, crypto and all its manifestations also will be central to the way the world works. But that doesn’t mean you should feel FOMO for not putting all your wealth into Bitcoin today.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Russia and Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is the latest European leader to visit Kyiv and Moscow, in a last-minute attempt to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine that the U.S.—which has adopted an unusual but possibly successful tactic of issuing regular updates about perceived Russian intentions—seems to think could happen Wednesday. The markets are not reacting well to the potential looming catastrophe. Washington Post

Ambassador Bridge

The busiest trade route between the U.S. and Canada has reopened after being cleared of anti–COVID-restrictions protesters. The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit, was particularly irksome for automakers on the U.S. side. Reuters

“Fun police”

“The fun police made us do it (sigh),” tweeted Elon Musk, apparently aged 13-and-a-half, regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall of a Tesla “Boombox” feature that allowed people to replace their cars’ recognizable safety sounds with any old thing. Seems the killjoys were concerned about pedestrians not reacting in the correct way to goat noises, and getting run over. Bloomberg

Novavax approval

Singapore has become the latest country to approve Novavax’s protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. Singapore has already deployed U.S. mRNA vaccines and China’s inactivated Sinovac jab. Fortune


Office jobs

A mere 3% of white-collar workers would like to return to the office full-time, according to a survey from management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates. There’s consistency across age groups, and AWA managing director Andrew Mawson says “employers have to realize that the genie is out of the bottle.” Bloomberg

COVID uncoupling

In country after country, the link between COVID infections and deaths is uncoupling. If the world manages to get 70% of its population vaccinated by the middle of the year, the WHO even thinks the pandemic’s acute phase could end this year. Fortune

Hop Lun

Hong Kong’s Hop Lun, maker of lingerie for H&M, Marks & Spencer, and Rihanna, is up for sale. CEO Erik Ryd’s kids don’t want to take over the $500 million company, and the pandemic has apparently been good to the “comfort clothing” sector, making now a good time to sell up. Financial Times

“Friends” censorship

Chinese streaming platforms have bowdlerized the classic U.S. sitcom Friends by removing references to a lesbian character and blurring out a globe. Bloomberg

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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