Consumer News

TINA.org Intercepts Super Bowl Advertisers’ Claims

It's not just crypto ads consumers have to watch out for.

Consumer News

TINA.org Intercepts Super Bowl Advertisers’ Claims

Many people watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials as advertisers save their best stuff for the big game. The ads can be so entertaining that it’s easy to forget that they’re ads, designed to get you to buy something. We hope this sampling helps you view some of them with a more discerning eye.

Carvana

In Carvana’s first-ever Super Bowl ad, an “oversharing mom” can’t stop talking about her experience buying a car from Carvana. “I thought online meant no one to help me, but Susan from Carvana had all the answers,” she says on the phone, in the checkout line, from the dentist chair. “She didn’t try to upsell me, not once, because they’re not salespeople.” Not like those salespeople you find in used car lots. Since its founding in 2012, Carvana has promoted itself as a better way to buy a car, a process that takes place almost entirely online. At Carvana, there are no whispered conversations between spouses as a salesperson “checks with their manager”; the company offers no-haggle pricing. But while this model has helped Carvana sell more than one million cars, the car-buying experience has left some Carvana customers wishing they had just gone to the dealership. “Some Carvana customers said delays in getting documents from the company have left them unable to register their cars for nearly a year, which they said has put them at risk for getting ticketed or towed,” the Wall Street Journal reported last October, citing dozens of complaints with state regulators and hundreds with the BBB. “For others, those delays left them stuck making payments on cars that had expired tags and couldn’t legally be driven, they said.”

Crypto.com, FTX

In the last two years, no cryptocurrency exchange has spent more on national TV advertising than Crypto.com, accounting for more than half of the over $110 million that has been spent on national crypto-related ads since the start of 2020, according to iSpot.tv data provided to Bloomberg. (So what’s $7 million for a 30-second commercial?) The Singapore-based company will have its largest TV audience yet when it debuts its Super Bowl ad on Sunday, with the potential to reach more than 100 million viewers. What will it tell them? With crypto investment scams on the rise, bitcoin prices tumbling and regulation looming, the future of crypto is uncertain. At the same time, crypto is unknown territory for many consumers. Will Crypto.com use its Super Bowl spot to encourage people to educate themselves about getting involved in crypto? Or will the company lean into its slogan “fortune favors the brave” without making an affirmative case for crypto, as it does in the above commercial featuring spokesperson/spaceman Matt Damon? (The New York Times Magazine recently described Damon’s pitch in the ad, which shows “The Martian” actor waxing poetic on history as he traverses the halls of a fictional Museum of Bravery, as “a macho taunt: If you’re a real man, you’ll buy crypto.”) Rival crypto exchange FTX will also be airing its first-ever Super Bowl ad. No word yet if Tom Brady will be in it.

DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook

Online sportsbook DraftKings uses the same “fortune” language as Crypto.com in a teaser for its Super Bowl ad, above. After telling viewers to “embrace the uncertainty” and inviting them to “get in on one of the biggest gambles in Super Bowl history,” the ad leaves consumers with two words to ponder: “fortune awaits.” Yet some DraftKings users may still be waiting for DraftKings to match their initial deposit as they claim the company promised. In a consolidated class-action lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that DraftKings falsely represented that it would “give away free bonus money to match anyone’s initial deposit.” DraftKings last year agreed to pay $8 million to settle the charges (the vast majority of the money distributed as site credits players can use to compete in contests on DraftKings). Another official sports betting partner of the NFL, Caesars Sportsbook, which has reportedly spent more than $70 million on NFL ads, the most of any sports brand, will make its Super Bowl debut. In October, Caesars was one of more than 700 companies to receive a notice from the FTC regarding laws that apply to reviews and other forms of endorsements and financial penalties that could result in breaking those laws.

See our previous coverage on Super Bowls past here.


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