Super Bowl Crypto Ads: Why Celebrities Appeared In Crypto Ads


Larry David in an ad for crypto exchange FTX | FTX

Larry David in an ad for crypto exchange FTX | FTX

As often, it all started with Matt Damon. In 2021, the star of The last duel, wearing a black t-shirt, appeared in an expensive commercial where he solemnly reminded viewers that “history is filled with almost.” Instead of selling a soft drink, a crunchy snack, an SUV, or a more convenient way to do your taxes online, it was peddling a product that was barely mentioned in the ad copy itself. With all the seriousness Jason Bourne can summon, he wanted to tell you that fortune smiles on the brave and, according to the announcement, the brave store.

Like Slate pointed out earlier this year that Damon wasn’t the first celebrity to dabble in cryptocurrencies – Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Tom Brady and Spike Lee lent their credit to the digital coin market – but he was without most famous doubt. Turns out Damon’s publicity was just the start of what became a celebrity gold rush. In January, it felt like every famous actor or reality TV star dropped an NFT (which stands for Non-Fungible Token), with this clip of Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton discussing their digital art going viral for its Verhoevenian weirdness. Then, during the Super Bowl, the crypto craze made even more stars.

First, there was the celebrity-free advertisement for CoinBase, which featured a bouncing QR code on the screen throughout its runtime. (The ad was reportedly popular enough to crash the app while streaming.) Then there was a ad featuring LeBron James talking to a younger CG version of himself, hitting the post again of Damon on fortune favoring the brave. Strange that future LeBron didn’t tell young LeBron that he would be in a crypto ad someday.

But the biggest ‘get’ was Larry David’s appearance in a commercial, the first he’s ever been in, for Bahamas-based FTX Trading, which was founded in 2019 and was valued at $32 billion. in January. In the ad, David riffs on his familiar cantankerous Calm your enthusiasm persona by being skeptical of a number of innovations throughout human history, including the wheel, the toilet, and the light bulb. The ad ends with a slightly ominous caveat: “Don’t be like Larry. Don’t miss the next big thing.”

The announcement plays into widespread skepticism towards the crypto market. In one New York Times article chronicling the making of the commercial, director Jeff Schaffer, a longtime collaborator of David who worked on Seinfeld and Sidewalk, revealed that he doesn’t exactly understand crypto either and hasn’t been paid in digital currency. “That’s what I should have done, so I would understand that,” he joked. Time. “Maybe. Or I’ll just lose everything.”

I know, I know: how dare these celebrities undermine the sanctity of the pure artistry of Super Bowl advertising? David and James weren’t the only stars to collect a seemingly massive check to help promote a product. Scarlet Johannson and Colin Jost poked fun at their relationship in an ad for Alexa, Amazon’s all-knowing assistant, Matthew McConaughey donned a spacesuit to extol the virtues of Sales Force and, in one of the most acclaimed ads of the night, two actors from The Sopranos together to convince you to buy a car. A massive celebration of money, competition, and violence, the Super Bowl as a pop culture event inevitably has a dystopian bent. But something about the crypto ads seemed particularly grim, didn’t it?

Some have compared the crypto ad rush to the dot-com Super Bowl of 2000, when soon-to-be-down sites like bet big on expensive ad space. At least those ads had fun mascots. So many aspects of the celebrity-driven crypto market have a superficial quality, like a copy of a copy of a copy. Even with a performer as funny and charming as Larry David at the center, there is still a blind gloom throughout the entire enterprise. They have to store the actual laughs in a digital wallet somewhere and they forgot the key.

Want more Thrillist? follow us on instagram, TwitterPinterest, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat.

Dan Jackson is a senior writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He’s on Twitter @danielvjackson.


Comments are closed.