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Super Bowl to highlight marriage of crypto and sports

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A screenshot shows Tom Brady on the phone in his kitchen with the text "Crypto. FTX. You in?"

A screenshot from YouTube show's Tom Brady's commercial with FTX , a cryptocurrency exchange. YouTube

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This Sunday is the Super Bowl, in case you hadn’t heard. Between the b-roll of Budweiser Clydesdales and prescription medication side effects, expect to see lots of commercials for a relative newcomer on the very expensive Super Bowl ad scene: cryptocurrency. 

Cryptocurrency exchanges like FTX and have ponied up millions for a Super Bowl spot. It’s all part of a longer-term marketing strategy relying heavily on sports — from patches on baseball uniforms to naming rights on NBA arenas

What would it take for you to trust crypto? How about a phone call from Tom Brady? In an ad from crypto exchange FTX, Brady rings up a New England bartender to convince him crypto is a good idea. Supermodel Giselle Bündchen, Brady’s wife, is also in the commercial.

The message Brett Harrison, who heads FTX US, wants you to take away? “We work with people like Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen, who want to work with companies like ours that are supporting responsible business, operational excellence.”

Miami-based FTX has made athletes and sports advertising a pillar of its marketing strategy. Steph Curry is an endorser and you see the logo all over Major League Baseball. “That’s how you can reach tens of millions — if not hundreds of millions — of people overnight,” Harrison said.

Super Bowl ratings tower over the Oscars (or what’s left of network sitcoms). Plus, the target demographic for crypto has a lot in common with sports fans, according to NYU marketing professor Paul Hardart.

“There is probably some overlap with the betting audience, and also the collector’s audience,” Hardart said.

If you’re willing to throw down $100 on the Bengals, you may be interested in Dogecoin or an Aaron Rodgers NFT. 

Putting your name on an arena also lends your brand credibility, said Alex Chernev with the Kellogg School of Management. “You have a product like crypto which is intangible, it’s very risky,” Chernev said. “And then you associate it with something very stable and existing in a physical space.”

There’s not much risk for athletes getting in bed with crypto firms, Chernev said — even if things go haywire. After all, the Houston Astros used to play in Enron Field. It’s not like anybody associates that franchise with reckless rule-breaking.

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