The director of Larry David’s much-maligned Superbowl ad for crypto exchange FTX has admitted that neither he nor the Seinfeld creator know anything about digital currency or how it works.
Jeff Schaffer revealed his ignorance in an email to the New York Times (NYT) in response to questions about the market’s catastrophic downturn and the raft of celebrities who’ve taken money to shill various projects in recent months.
“Unfortunately I don’t think we’d have anything to add as we have no idea how cryptocurrency works (even after having it explained to us repeatedly), don’t own it, and don’t follow its market,” said Schaffer (via NYT).
He added that he and David “just set out to make a funny commercial!”
The spot features David poo-pooing various wildly-popular inventions and pivotal moments in history, including the wheel (“one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard”), indoor toilets (“we’re not animals”), coffee (“I’m all jittery”), and man’s attempts to reach the moon (“it’s really, really far”).
The two-and-a-half-minute promo wraps up with an FTX employee pitching Larry the company’s app, calling it, “a safe and easy way to get into crypto.” America’s favorite grouch responds with an on-brand, “Eh, I don’t think so. And I’m never wrong about this stuff.”
And while the ad is, as Larry would say, prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay good, it’s definitely not up there with his best work. Since it aired in February, it’s drawn criticism from both disillusioned David fans and those just keen to know why a man reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars would need or even want to hitch himself to the crypto wagon.
And now Schaffer’s comments are sure to have those same people asking whether or not somebody with no experience or knowledge of crypto should be promoting a product that could cost real people (read non-multimillionaires) real money.
You’re not paid to understand it, just look pretty and read the lines
David’s ad came amidst a flurry of celebrity endorsements for various crypto and blockchain projects.
But despite the help from these Hollywood heavyweights, the crypto market is currently experiencing the mother of all crashes, with somewhere in the region of $400 billion being wiped from the market’s total cap.
And with millions of hapless investors watching on as their funds dwindle, crypto-shilling celebs are facing a barrage of questions about why they didn’t do enough to warn about the dangers of investing and the volatility of their products.
In addition to David, NYT also sought comment from Matt Damon (Crypto.com), Reese Witherspoon, Mila Kunis, and tennis star Naomi Osaka who became an FTX ambassador in March. Unfortunately, none of them was available to share their unique and undoubtedly in-depth crypto insights. Funny, that.
“This is what they do — they’re celebrities, they got offered money to promote something that has promise,” said Beth Egan, associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University (via NYT).
However, she adds, “If I were Matt Damon or Reese Witherspoon, I would be questioning my willingness to take on this kind of gig.”
Are crypto companies falling out of love with celebs?
It seems that crypto brands are tweaking their strategies somewhat, with subtlety being the new buzzword. Big, splashy celebrity spots are gradually being replaced with under-the-radar tactics like digital campaigns and Google ads.
As highlighted by NYT, in March, Crypto.com spent an average of $109,000 every day on digital ads. But barely two months later, that figure had plummeted to just $24,669.
“We sort of created this arms race,” said FTX’s US president Brett Harrison about the use of celebrity endorsements (via NYT).
“We’ve planted our flag there and we have such great presence that racing to grab all of the remaining properties and athletes and celebrities is not necessarily our top priority.”
“We’re thinking of doing things a little bit differently than we were in the past.”