Star athletes and supermodels are promoting crypto companies. Stadiums are taking the companies’ names. The government is thinking about regulating them.
But perhaps the surest sign yet that the cryptocurrency industry has reached the mainstream? It will be ubiquitous during this weekend’s Super Bowl commercials.
At least three online services for buying and selling digital currencies — EToro, Crypto.com and FTX — are scheduled to run ads during the game on Sunday. BitBuy, a Canadian crypto exchange, will run one during the Canadian broadcast of the game.
Even non-crypto companies will refer to the industry’s rise: A nonfungible token, or NFT, the blockchain-based collectible, shows up in the commercial for the zero-carb beer Bud Light Next.
An Expedia ad starring the actor Ewan McGregor, which urges viewers to book more trips on the travel platform instead of collecting more unnecessary “stuff,” silently lumps virtual currency into the category of “stuff.”
And TurboTax, the software company that recently started a direct deposit program with Coinbase to allow users to convert their tax refunds into cryptocurrency, showcases a small-town crypto investor in its ad.
In Reddit forums and on Madison Avenue, the game has even been rechristened the “Crypto Bowl.”
“These companies are conveying that we’re not this weird little nerdy kid in the corner who’s doing sort-of shifty stuff,” said Beth Egan, an associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University. “We are a real company, a real advertiser, we’re here to stay, we’re mainstream.”
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The Super Bowl remains the single most important event on the advertising calendar, a cultural event that draws a huge audience even as live television loses ground to streaming platforms and mobile entertainment.
About 100 million people are expected to watch this year’s matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. NBCUniversal, which is broadcasting the game and has sold out of game-time ad spots, is charging up to $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime.
Nearly half of the commercials will be from companies like the crypto exchanges that are making their first Super Bowl appearance.
One, from Hologic, a medical technology company focused on women’s health, will show the singer and halftime performer Mary J. Blige getting a checkup.
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Wallbox’s debut ad features a lightning strike survivor overcoming his fear of electricity to use the company’s electric vehicle charging technology.