FTX 1, Coinbase 0.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange has outmaneuvered its larger rival again, dropping a hilarious commercial on Super Bowl viewers featuring comedian Larry David’s first-ever stint as celebrity pitchman. Coinbase’s minimalist advert meanwhile caused its servers to crash.

Super Bowl crypto ads

Playing a time-travelling sceptic for the FTX promo, David scoffs at inventions like the wheel, the toilet, Walkmen, dishwashers and the Apollo moon mission before similarly dismissing crypto.

His exclamation “I got 10 forks right here baybee!!” with a finger waggle to show why cutlery isn’t necessary (at the 20 second mark) seems like it might become a catchphrase.

Director Jeff Schaffer said that David, his long-time creative partner, had been approached many, many times to be a celebrity pitchman but it had never worked out.

“Larry’s had endless ad suitors over the years, from beer brands to toilets. When we’d get concept materials, we’d say: ‘Oh, it could be fun if we bent it this way.’ This was the first idea we’ve ever seen, where we were like: ‘Oh, it’s perfect.'”

“Every invention has its skeptics and Larry is the proud voice of those people,” he said.

Schaffer told the Hollywood Reporter that he and David didn’t care about critics who said celebrities shouldn’t pitch crypto.

“We’re making stuff that we like and I just couldn’t give three shits if anybody else doesn’t like it,” he said.

Embracing scepticism

“We need to meet people where they are—and that means embracing scepticism,” Bankman-Fried said in a statement.

“A lot of people who are now the biggest advocates of crypto once had significant reservations.”

“What I hope people see is that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously. We wanted an ad that made people laugh and added even more fun to their Big Game experience and traditions,” says FTX’s head of marketing Nathaniel Whittemore.

“We’re not saying crypto is humankind’s greatest invention. We do see crypto’s radical potential though, so we want to invite people in. We want to be the safe place for people to explore and ask questions and feel empowered to orchestrate financial futures on their terms.”

Coinbase’s QR code

Meanwhile, Coinbase aired a floating QR code that viewers could scan for a chance to win $1 million. Seriously, that was it – a bouncing QR code, with no hint about what the ad was about.

But the ad was so popular that Coinbase had to throttle traffic to its servers for a few minutes after it aired, the company’s chief product officer tweeted. People using the Coinbase app were getting a message about “connection issues”.

FTX responded on Twitter with a similar video, only instead of a bouncing QR code it was Bankman-Fried’s famously unkempt hair floating around the screen.

Crypto.com and LeBron

Elsewhere, LeBron James starred in a commercial for Crypto.com, also involving time travel, that was generally well received.

EToro’s birds

Etoro’s ad also mentioned crypto prominently.

Overall, though, despite predictions that this would be the “crypto bowl” there were far more ads for the new Jurassic Park movie than anything blockchain-related.