Content showdown
6 min read

Content showdown

Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 2,830 marketing and sales pros spend five minutes learning how to create irresistible content.

By now you’ve probably heard enough about this year’s Super Bowl commercials.

After the game your social feeds probably looked a lot like mine:

That commercial was SOOO dumb!

OMG this is hilarious!

Who the hell approved this?? It’s trash!

I admit, the unfiltered critiques that fill the comments section can be amusing, but they don't help you emulate the greatness or avoid the misses that these advertisements can teach us about creating our own content.

That’s why today we’re going to break down a subset of the advertisements so you can learn how to stand out and create clear, relevant content.

We’re going to do that by diving into one specific set of competitors who I thought had the most intriguing ads: crypto.  

Before you slam your laptop on me, let me say that I am NOT a crypto bro or anything near it. I find cryptocurrency mildly interesting, but my wife does invest in them as a small part of our investment strategy. Nothing that follows is meant to influence you to invest in crypto.

OK, now that the lawyer-like messaging is over, here’s how I’m going to score each ad:

  • Content quality (insightful, relevant, actionable)
  • Clarity of message
  • Buzz  (are people talking about it)

Let’s get into it.

The only context I had on FTX before the Super Bowl ad, was seeing them advertise on the court of dozen of NBA games over the past couple months:

A quick Google search after seeing it for the fourth time taught me that they are a crypto… something. A wallet or whatever.

Anyways, then I see their Super Bowl ad:

FTX 2022 Super Bowl Ad

This ad got a legit belly laugh from me. Partly because I find Larry David innately hilarious, but mostly because they so clearly deliver a narrative wrapped in humor but without losing an ounce of clarity.

Their messaging was clear and well articulated because they directly tackled the #1 objection people have against crypto: It won’t last.

FTX effectively tells us that crypto is the future by showing multiple examples of world-changing innovations spanning thousands of years, from the first wheel to electricity.  

They used humor to say, Crypto is just the next thing, and people have been doubting the next big thing forever.

It normalizes the doubt and uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency.

Then they cap it off with a clear message: Don’t get left behind.

FTX does an excellent job telling us that cryptocurrency is real. It’s happening. And you can be a naysayer like Larry, or you can do the smart thing and accept this movement.

Note that this is a strong POV in action: They are championing cryptocurrency, not FTX.

In other words vision > product. They were wise not to say the tempting self-brags like being the best, safest, or easiest to use because most people aren’t even at the point of choosing a cryptocurrency .

Most people don’t have a crypto wallet or trading account yet, so that message wouldn’t have landed. The masses are still very much in the awareness phase, not decision.

For Buzz, crypto overall got some buzz after the game, but “Don’t be Larry” didn’t take over the internet.

Here’s the tally:

  • Content quality: 9/10
  • Clarity of message: 10/10
  • Buzz: 5/10
  • Total: 8/10

On to the next one…

Much like FTX, my exposure to started with advertising in sports. This time via the UFC, the premier MMA (mixed martial arts) league.

Even if you’re not into MMA, you might have heard when they spent $700 million dollars for the naming rights to LA’s iconic Staples Center a few months back.

Keep in mind that The Staples Center is home to the LA Lakers. And Lebron James – the world’s most famous basketball player – is on the Lakers.

Why does this matter? Check out their ad: had layers of relevance in their ad. They smartly open the scene with the same music from the halftime show (Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode.) So immediately it catches your ear, assuming you were paying attention to the half time entertainment, which most people do.

From there, they use dialogue to deliver their message.

They chose to cast Lebron James and a CGI version of his younger self as to subtly portray They capture “If I knew now what I knew then” – a common phrase and feeling that people have when reminiscing on financial opportunities they could have taken a chance on, but decided not to.

Then a bold tagline: Fortune favors the brave.

Fortune has two meanings here: (1) the general good luck and opportunity, and (2) large financial wealth – fitting for a cryptocurrency.

It’s worth calling out that both FTX and portrayed a timeline of innovation, but this one was a much shorter timeline – cordless headphones, mobile video, and electric cars.  They both also used an A-list celebrity as the lead in the video.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • Content quality: 8/10
  • Clarity of message: 8/10
  • Buzz: 6/10

Total: 7/10

Decent buzz here from my corner of the internet with coverage from the sports and media feeds.

On to our final breakdown…


Finally we get to the one platform I’ve actually used before back when I had a Coinbase account.

They have been sound longer than the FTX and and have established themselves as the mainstream wallet and trading platform.

For this reason I expected them to take the safe approach relative to their competitors.

I was wrong:

Yep, a multi-colored QR codes mimicking the travel patterns of the DVD player’s screen saver:

Completely unexpected. The irony is the most well established company took the least certain route. Typically companies with household names stick to safe, traditional marketing in hopes of not losing what they have.

Not Coinbase.

They went against expectations for a Super Bowl commercial – no celebrities, no storytelling, no high production. They doubled down on “different” and curiosity, and it (seemingly) paid off:

So what would motivate them to take this route? Let’s speculate:

  1. Coinbase was the first mainstream crypto wallet. So perhaps they don’t need the “big brand” play. Doubtful, the industry is still too new.
  2. They challenge conventional wisdom. They knew what angle their competitors would take and went a completely different direction. Most likely and most impressive.
  3. Their CFO would only approve this ad if there was quantifiable impact, so they cut creativity and optimized for conversions.

My money is on #2 and keeping the CFO happy with the most ROI-minded creative imaginable was a pleasant side effect.

That said, this one is tough to grade:

  • Content quality: 7/10
  • Clarity of message: 0/10 – There is no message
  • Buzz: 10/10

Total: 6/10

Last year it was Reddit and Oatly, but this year the most talked about advertisement was Coinbase.

And for that reason they “won” the Super Bowl commercial contest in my opinion, even though they were last in our showdown today. And that’s because I graded content based on quality. Ironically, Coinbase won by NOT playing the quality battle and instead went all in on standing out.

Remember, even though the Super Bowl is a short-lived pop culture moment every year, the insights we covered today are timeless and widely applicable to your own content.

It comes down to being different, delivering a clear message, and apply layers of relevance.

In other words: insightful, relevant, and actionable.

That’s how you capture attention AND educate your audience on what you're all about.

This is my take, but I want to hear from you. Which advertisement do you think is best?

Holler at your next Saturday,

Did you find this post insightful? If so, you’d make me shout “boomshakalaka!” if you shared this link with your friends or on LinkedIn. Here’s an example from Jake Criscuolo for inspiration.

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