Super Bowl Commercials for the Capital Markets

Lining up some of the best Super Bowl commercials with the biggest topics and trends in the industry.

A look at which Super Bowl commercials best represent topics in the capital markets.

Dan dives into his love of commercials by selecting six that aired during the Super Bowl that could be easily re-engineered to represent those in financial services.

I love commercials.

Call me a mark for all those Don Draper-types on Madison Avenue, but I enjoy a good 30-second spot more than most. I think telling a story while simultaneously pitching a product during a period when most people are trying to go to the bathroom or refill their snacks is a real art form.

Now, when it comes to commercials, there is no bigger spot than the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is literally the Super Bowl of commercials (how meta is that?!). No television event draws higher costs for commercial spots than the ads that run during America's favorite sporting event.

Unfortunately, for those of us in the financial technology space, we're not likely to see any commercials from the vendors and firms we all deal with on a daily basis. Our niche is too small and the cost is too high for there to be any real benefit for a vendor touting a risk analytics platform or a data governance solution to advertise during the Super Bowl.

Now, before you jump down my throat, I understand there are some firms involved with the capital markets that do advertise during the big game ─ Google and IBM are the first two that jump to mind. However, for the most part, these spots are never geared toward the capital markets. Instead, we're left with awful advertisements from people like

So, in an effort to help the capital markets, I've chosen some of my favorite Super Bowl commercials and picked what firm/trend/topic it could best represent.

Obviously, none of these are perfect fits considering the ad was designed specifically for the company it represents, but try and use your imagination.

So, without further ado, I present to you Advertising for Dummies: The Capital Markets Edition.


Original Company: Apple

Capital Markets Equivalent: Blockchain

If we're talking Super Bowl commercials, it's only fair we start with (arguably) the most famous Super Bowl commercial of all time. (Kick rocks, Mean Joe; you're not the best ever.) Apple's one-minute commercial has better story telling in it than 75 percent of the movies released last year.

Naturally, the whole concept of "good vs. evil" and "new vs. old" fits perfectly into the blockchain narrative. The fact that the hero of the ad is a woman is also perfect for the current storyline of distributed ledger technology. Many consider, although some might disagree, Digital Asset Holdings CEO Blythe Masters to be the face of the blockchain movement. Can't you picture her running down the hallway with a giant metal chain (of course) swinging above her head as protectors of old settlement practices chase after her?

What's ironic is the original Macintosh, for all the hype it had, was a failure.



Original Company: Radio Shack

Capital Markets Equivalent: The DTCC

This 2014 ad from Radio Shack drew plenty of people's attention, mainly because most didn't realize Radio Shack was still a thing. Still, the commercial was a hit. People love things that are nostalgic. I have to admit, anytime you can include Alf in a commercial, I am all in.

This is perfect for the DTCC. Yeah, we were established in 1973, but we're still hip! If I had to condense the white paper it released last week about the blockchain into video form, this would be it. We're ready to change!

The strategy didn't work for Radio Shack, as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the day after the one-year anniversary of running of the ad. The future of the DTCC still remains to be seen.



Original Company: Audi

Capital Markets Equivalent: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

I find the best Super Bowl ads to be the ones that have some type of nod or reference toward something in popular culture. While this does have the chance to go horribly wrong (you can't repaint the "Mona Lisa" and you can't reshoot the opening scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", Honda), Audi nailed it with this homage to the "horse's head" scene from "The Godfather."

Isn't this perfect for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman? After his recent announcement about the penalties slapped on Barclays and Credit Suisse, Schneiderman seems to be on a war path. The only thing I would change about the actual commercial is having the bed filled with SEC filings and have Schneiderman sit in the front seat of the car with sunglasses on. Then cut to black with the words "Dark Pools just got put on notice." I'm sure we can get a visual effects team to digitally put him in the car. No need for reshoots!



Original Company: Nationwide

Capital Markets Equivalent: Regulators

I vividly remember watching this commercial last year and immediately think, "What the hell did I just see?" Listen, everything Nationwide is trying to say in this spot is correct. I am 100 percent against kids dying. But do I really need to be reminded of the fact that most childhood deaths are preventable when I'm a few beers deep and watching the game? There is a time and place for everything, and this was not it.

This is exactly the kind of thing regulators (SEC, CFTC, etc.) would try to do. Everyone is having fun and good time. But wait, let's not forget there are terrible things that can happen in the markets! Don't forget to have proper data governance! Don't forget to properly timestamp your trades! Always be compliant!

Way to be a buzzkill, you guys.



Original Company: Miller High Life

Capital Markets Equivalent: High-frequency traders

This might be my favorite commercial of all time. To this day I still crack up every time I watch it. And here's the best part: It worked! Miller High Life saw an 8.6 percent increase in sales the week after the Super Bowl compared to that period last year, according to a story in AdAge. The company literally laughed at the entire industry, saying on a promotional website, "Paying $3 million for a 30-second commercial makes as much sense as putting sauerkraut on a donut."

How perfect is this for HFT? Think about how many ads low-latency traders could get up during a one-second commercial. This type of commercial is tailor made for them.

I'm really looking forward to the tell-all book from Michael Lewis about why one-second ads are unfair to the market.



Original Company: Planet Fitness

Capital Markets Equivalent: IEX

This commercial has been drilled into my head because the Wall Street Planet Fitness used to air it every day at 9 a.m. without fail. While I think Planet Fitness goes a little over the top with its whole, ‘We accept everyone!' shtick, it is a pretty funny spot considering there are people exactly like this at gyms.

Since we're talking HFT, I have to throw in IEX. Can't you see the trading venue touting all the other trading venues as being unfair to, ‘the common man.' Our speed bump means everyone has a fair chance! None of those fancy HFTs allowed!


Bonus Round!

These are two Super Bowl commercials I couldn't find a capital markets equivalent to, but still wanted to include because I like them. Deal with it.


Original Company: Google

I'm not crying. YOU'RE crying.



Original Company: Heineken

The Dutch-based beer company always makes awesome commercials, but when it comes to Super Bowl ads, this one always stands out.



Food for Thought

  • As for the actual big game, like I said last week, I'm taking Carolina. The Panthers are just too good, on both sides of the ball. There is no way Denver has a chance if they go down early.


Like the column? Hate the column? Let me know via email ([email protected]) or Twitter (@dandefrancesco).

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