Reddit's regional Super Bowl ad is a tribute to Wall Street Bets
Reddit had a Super Bowl ad moment on Sunday reflecting on its role in the GameStop and Robinhood stock saga.
It wasn’t a true Super Bowl ad, but like many brands have done in the past, Reddit bought a regional spot that appeared in regional markets including New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Typically, those ads don’t get the attention of a full-fledged Super Bowl commercial, but given Reddit’s involvement in one of the biggest Wall Street moments of the past decade, its ad deserves some consideration.
“One thing that we learned from our communities last week is that underdogs can accomplish just about anything when they come around a common idea,” Reddit’s ad said.
In true hacker fashion, the ad was only about five seconds long. Reddit said it didn’t have the money for a $5.5 million national spot, but still wanted a voice during the biggest live event of the year. The ad started briefly with cars racing across a desert, before cutting to the Reddit logo, and then there was a simple message, which viewers would have to pause to read. It referenced the events of the past month, during which a Reddit forum sprung into internet stardom for its role in a wild stock gamble.
The ad was handled by Reddit’s ad agency R/GA, which took on the account last year. The first major campaign for Reddit, by R/GA, came in June at the height of the pandemic, when the company issued an homage to the “idiots” and the heroes who live on the site and foster communities during difficult times.
Reddit’s quasi-Super Bowl ad was filled with nods to the community called Wall Street Bets, which is one of thousands of user-controlled groups on the site, organized around shared interests. Wall Street Bets is a quintessential Reddit subreddit, as they are called, with a unique vernacular and inside jokes.
The subreddit posted a screenshot of Reddit’s ad, and it was voted to the top of the site by the users on the forum, giving it maximum exposure and a heap of praise. Of course, the subreddit would appreciate the ad, since it was about them.
Reddit and its CEO Steve Huffman embraced Wall Street Bets because the forum achieved internet cult status after its members rallied behind GameStop stock in January. The community action led to a run-up in GameStop’s share price.
GameStop is a struggling retailer, and many of Wall Street’s established traders and funds figured it would be the next Blockbuster video. Wall Street Bets thought otherwise, and the “retail” investors there bought in, driving the price from about $15 to 350, briefly. The stock plummeted after the frenzy and is now close to $60.
The entire Wall Street Bets saga also played out on Robinhood, the stock trading app, which is where many of the Reddit users bought shares. Robinhood has not emerged from the incident as well-liked as Reddit, because the app had to halt trading in GameStop shares, which many investors determined must be a conspiracy against them. The halt in trading happened almost simultaneously with the drop in share price.
Robinhood had problems handling the volume in trades being generated from all the hype on Reddit.
Robinhood also had its own Super Bowl ad, which was planned well before the GameStop saga.