- US Senator Sherrod Brown blasted the deluge of crypto ads that aired during the Super Bowl.
- He said the ads did not address numerous risks to investors when trying to woo newcomers.
- "But the ads left a few things out. They didn't mention the fraud, scams, and outright theft," he said.
US Senator Sherrod Brown blasted the flood of cryptocurrency ads that aired during Super Bowl LVI Sunday, saying they did not address numerous risks to investors in their attempt to woo newcomers to the sector.
Among the companies that spent millions of dollars for airtime were Coinbase, FTX, eToro, and Crypto.com — earning this year's big game the nickname of "Crypto Bowl" as more industry players tried to push digital assets further into the mainstream.
"Big crypto companies are looking to make big profits, and are desperate to reach as many Americans as they can. They brought in celebrities and gimmicks to make crypto sound exciting and daring and profitable," Brown said. "But the ads left a few things out. They didn't mention the fraud, scams, and outright theft."
Brown, a Democrat from Ohio and chair of the Banking Committee, made the comment during the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Hearing on Tuesday to examine the President's Working Group on Financial Markets report on Stablecoins.
"So if you saw a Super Bowl ad and figured you'd give this a try, and you change your mind and want to exchange your stablecoin for dollars, you might be out of luck," he said. "The website could be down. Your money could be trapped."
Brown was likely referring to Coinbase's website, which crashed after the crypto exchange released a 60-second commercial during the Super Bowl, which featured a QR code bouncing around like a retro screensaver. The ad invited users to scan the code, which offered $15 in free bitcoin if they set up an account.
Brown said the ads amounted to "vague allusions to innovation and the future." He urged Congress and regulators to tackle these risks "before it's too late."
This year's Super Bowl drew 112.3 million viewers from television and streaming to rank as the most-watched show in five years, based on data from NBCUniversal, which aired the event.
The annual championship game is a massive cultural event that companies pay huge sums to advertise during. Advertisers this year paid $7 million for 30 seconds of air time, according to NBC Sports.
Data from The Block show these commercials may have worked to lure new investors to crypto. Some crypto apps, according to its research, spiked in downloads in Apple's App Store the Monday after the game, including Coinbase and eToro.
"The Superbowl is the ideal place for cryptocurrency firms to advertise with an audience of 100 million+ sports-loving, captive viewers," Nicholas Cawley, strategist at DailyFX, said in a note. "The demographics are in line and with the crackdown on crypto advertising in other countries, this is a perfect audience reach for these cash-rich companies."
Brown's skepticism, though, pointed to the uphill battle facing the crypto industry in convincing lawmakers that it is a force for good.
"We need to look beyond the unproven promises, and protect Americans and our entire financial system," Brown said during the hearing.