There will not be any crypto commercials at this year’s National Football League Super Bowl.
I know. There’s no LeBron James, digitized and high school aged, talking about a sexy future. There are no QR codes that bounce around the screen at a low price, no cute shiba incis. It’s kinda sad.
After the year of crypto, which was full of shocking failures in trust, ethics, and corporate responsibility, and the equally dramatic market crashes, here are some reasons why I believe it is not so sad.
Cash? There is no sportswashing.
Bitcoin’s value is now less than half of what it was one year ago. This means that any cryptocurrency company, if any exists, can be in the green. It is still concerned with survival. You can put off big, flashy marketing spending. The same goes for sportswashing.
Sportswashing refers to groups, corporations and nation-states that use the popularity of sports to boost their reputations. Consider Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar’s emir also owns Paris Saint-Germain, which boasts three of the most popular athletes in the world (all hailing from countries with 325 million inhabitants). Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup. China hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics.
These situations are called “Red Flag” Glitzy spectacles are designed to shine a positive light. These groups, corporations and nation-states can mask otherwise unpleasant realities. Super Bowl commercials may have the same effect.
It’s not my intention to suggest that crypto companies that ran Super Bowl ads last year were hiding human rights violations or anything like that. We’ve seen that many of these companies were concealing something terrible since the last Super Bowl.
Perhaps, in the coming year, crypto companies who are able gain ground without the help of high-profile commercial spots (and profile-heightening), will be better evaluated. Borrowed glory won’t have helped their reputations.
Is this a sign that the next FTX will not use sports to gain favor? Unlikely. We’re out of the loop for at least this year.
Crypto executive hubris is less
Overreaching ambition and a long arm of ambition are hallmarks of any industry’s top executives. The ego boost that comes with being seen on TV by others and the feeling of “I’ve done it” is just as important as savvy marketing spending.
Perhaps it’s more about your ego.
Crypto executives are no exception and they might yearn for it more than other executives, given the still-not-quite-mainstream acceptance of the industry as a whole. A partnership with some of the most well-known brands in the world, such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Register them.
When we ask ourselves if they belong, that is where the desire can become hubris. The companies were rich last year and were growing and hiring at an incredible pace. They were also being invited to the tables with the powerful and wealthy – in government and industry.
Sam Bankman-Fried was the CEO of FTX, and had previously appeared on a stage together with President Bill Clinton in The Bahamas before the Super Bowl. After that, he testified before Congress to defend the crypto industry. He did so while giving influential amounts of money to political campaigns. The parade of TV interviews that followed the Super Bowl, one on CoinDesk TV’s The Hash. It’s a great way to get my ego pumping just by thinking about it. What if you actually lived it?
If your company’s foundation is built on the promise of a new paradigm, untested frontier of untold riches, or in some cases a huge outright fraud, are you truly a part of it?
We should at the very least thank our lucky stars. Crypto company executives won’t be able to emerge from this Super Bowl with improved reputations and associated egos because they were loosely associated with an important event.
Instead, they will have to continue working for it.