Larry David and LeBron James Cryptocurrency Super Bowl Ads: Why?

Cryptoeconomics got the red carpet in Super Bowl LVI.

The largest cryptocurrency exchanges, seeking to demystify their business to tens of millions of Americans, provided publicity during the big game, which cost up to $7 million for a 30-second clip. Some credited well-known faces.

Larry David has emerged as a clueless time traveler who turns up his nose at great innovations (The Wheel? E. Light Bulb? “Can I be honest?… It stinks”). tagline: “Don’t be like Larry. Don’t miss the next big event.” LeBron James later taught himself to take risks in Crypto.com ads.

During the big game, the big names were expected to support cryptographic and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. So much so that prior to the match, cryptocurrency trading platform Binance released a video featuring Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler and music artist J. Balvin warning viewers that celebrities don’t support cryptocurrencies.

“In Feb. On December 13, you will hear some of the biggest names advise you to get into crypto,” Butler said. “But they don’t know you or your finances. Only you do.”

star advertising have become the latest example of the growing interest of the entertainment industry in everything related to the blockchain. Last year, there was a preponderance of actors, musicians, and athletes talking about digital currencies and NFTs — unique digital records proving ownership of an item tracked in a digital ledger.

Movie studios are auctioning off crypto collectibles to promote new movies. Musicians release songs, albums and memorabilia as tokens, giving fans access to bonus material. Theme park designers are talking about bringing famous characters and fantasy worlds into the metaverse. DJs are planning completely virtual concerts and parties.

And, of course, there are celebrity crypto endorsements. Last year, Matt Damon appeared in an ad for Crypto.com comparing e-currency investing to marine exploration and space travel under the slogan “Fortune favors the brave.” Paris Hilton showed herself Bored Ape NFT Yacht Club on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Reese Witherspoon advertised crypto assets on Twitter. “In the (near) future, every person will have a parallel digital identity.” the Big Little Lies star tweeted in January.

Critics have been outraged by the spectacle of the rich and famous urging viewers to play in a risky and speculative market infested with scammers. Skeptics say that the cryptocurrencies and NFT craze primarily benefited the wealthy early adopters — the true believers — who could afford to start early.

Analysts see clear parallels in the crypto space with the dot-com bubble. This earlier cycle of hype reached its pop culture peak at the 2000 Super Bowl. This game featured ads from companies like Pets.com, which quickly fell apart.

“My problem is that when 98% of these NFTs go bust in the next couple of years, it will just crush a lot of small investors,” said Anindia Ghosh, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “If you are Matt Damon or Paris Hilton, you can afford to lose 5% of your net worth. But for many small retail investors, 5% or 10% of your net worth is not a trivial loss.”

Of course, there is nothing new in presenting brands and products from the list of the best. But selling cryptocurrencies and NFTs is more awkward than selling typical consumer products because these concepts are still foreign to many consumers. It’s not quite the same as pitching potato chips and energy drinks, says R. A. Farrokhnia, a professor at Columbia Business School.

“How are you going to explain non-fungible tokens in a way that is understandable and reflects some of the risks associated with them?” Farrokhnia asked.

Widespread skepticism has not stopped ambitious artists from experimenting with the growing crypto universe.

DJ and producer Steve Aoki, one of the biggest proponents of NFTs and the possibilities of blockchain technology in the entertainment industry, has created an online platform called A0K1VERSE for Steve Aoki’s NFT holders.

He describes the project as a digital version of a membership-based social club like Soho House, with varying levels of experience including access to collectibles, concert tickets and virtual performances. He said that at a certain level of membership, fans can collaborate with him on music.

“I call it preseason,” Aoki said. “There are many different ways to think about where we are going. The exciting part now for creators like me is that we can actually start building architecture.”

Artists and companies are trying to learn and prepare for a future where viewers will live most of their lives in virtual worlds, said Adam Friedman, executive director of Creative Artists Agency.

“We long ago abandoned the notion that anything in space is extortion,” Friedman said. “It’s about what makes the most strategic sense for the client, their business, and their brand.”

Some in the industry believe that there is potential for NFT mining for movie and TV show ideas, treating them as intellectual property, similar to comics, video games, and toy lines. Last year, CAA signed Jenkins the Valet, a digital character created by Tally Labs, to be portrayed in books, movies, TV and podcasts.

“At the end of the day, this is intellectual property, and if the intellectual property is compelling and customers and the market find it attractive, we have a lot of opportunity,” Friedman said.

Kat Graham, actress and artist who makes music under the name Toro Gato. released her latest album exclusively as an NFT series. Graham said she sees the format as a way to bypass the record companies’ exploitative system.

Graham worked with NFT marketplace YellowHeart, which helped rock band Kings of Leon release an NFT version of their record, one of the first major uses of the format by a major artist.

Graham said selling NFT albums gives her a more direct connection to fans than streaming, which smaller artists have scorned for years due to measly royalties.

“It feels like we have our own club, our own community,” she said. “I hope this space will open up more artists.”

NFTs began to gain momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic amid the rise in popularity of physical collectibles such as baseball cards as an alternative investment.

But the novelty and instability of the crypto economy has made it a breeding ground for scammers and intellectual property theft. Earlier this month, a website called HitPiece allegedly auctioned off music NFTs without the artist’s permission, infuriating musicians and leading the Recording Industry Association. America to call the platform “nothing more than a fraudulent operation.”

A class action lawsuit last month accused Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather of artificially inflating the price of the EthereumMax cryptocurrency. The coin lost about 97% of its value in seven monthsleading critics to call it a “pump and dump” turmoil.

This month, the Justice Department charged a couple, one of whom worked as a YouTube rapper, in a $4.5 billion cryptocurrency laundering scheme.

Such incidents have damaged the reputation of the industry in the eyes of the general public. Some believers acknowledge the problems but see them as a natural part of a work in progress.

“There will be bubbles, there will be bad actors, there will be scams,” said Jeremy S. Goldman, a Los Angeles partner at blockchain law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. “But that doesn’t change the fact that at the heart of this is an incredible new innovation that has the potential to bring tremendous benefits to new creators and existing creators.”

Studios have tried to rein in the artists sell NFT versions of their work featuring Marvel and DC superheroes. Miramax is suing Quentin Tarantino for plotting to auction images of Pulp Fiction’s handwritten script. Lawyers for Tarantino argued that the director had the right to sell the pages as NFTs under his original contract.

Meanwhile, movie studios and TV networks are mastering their own NFTs. (Disclosure: The Los Angeles Times sale of own NFTs.)

Warner Brazzers. released tokens based on its Matrix and Space Jam franchises ahead of new movies. AMC Networks has engaged production company NFT Orange Comet to release The Walking Dead computer-animated clips as tokens. And Sony Pictures and AMC Theaters created the Spider-Man NFT for members of the AMC Movie Ticket Subscription Program and investors.

To promote Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Sony Pictures auctioned off 10 Ghostbusters vignettes as NFTs on the OpenSea marketplace prior to release. Culver City Studios has also released thousands of digital collectible Mini-Pufts (tiny marshmallow Stay-Puft characters) to appeal to the more casual consumer.

“We’re at the stage where you have these crypto whales and people who are tech savvy who buy them, but there aren’t many people like that,” said Jamie Stevens, head of consumer products and licensing at Sony Pictures. “So we really wanted to create an opportunity for our fans to be able to own some of that.”

Some studios also see an opportunity to take what they’ve made in physical theme park rides and bring it to the digital world.

Jenefer Brown, who directs live and on-location entertainment for Lionsgate Film and TV Studios in Santa Monica, envisions a world where fans can experience the world of the John Wick franchise and book a room at the Continental Hotel, the series. neutral haven for the underworld.

“We dusted off the concepts that we came up with, from a physical point of view, that just couldn’t be done for a variety of reasons that could absolutely be done in a digital environment,” Brown said.

Buying an NFT is tricky, and experts predict that more consumers will only embrace it as the technology becomes easier to use and understand.

Right now, the market is seething with capital inflows, and many analysts expect it to contract. However, the technology itself is not going anywhere. “NFTs are not going anywhere,” Goldman said. “They’re just going to evolve, like technology always does.”