Business information

Larry David doesn’t get the crypto. That’s why FTX hired him.

In recent months, FTX has paid $17.5 million to sponsor sports teams at the University of California, Berkeley; launched a $20 million advertising campaign with soccer star Tom Brady and his model wife, Gisele Bündchen; and has partnered with the Coachella music festival to offer NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. He owns the naming rights to the arena for the Miami Heat basketball team, which he bought for $135 million.

But the announcement took place at a particularly frantic pace. After buying the Super Bowl slot in August, FTX and advertising agency dentsuMB spent about two weeks coming up with a slew of ideas and some 80 scripts before a concept from Andrew Hunter, creative director of dentsuMB, be chosen. In November, Mr David said he wanted in, and six weeks were spent improvising and negotiating with his team through video calls.

The ad then went through 280 hours of editing, winnowing 7.5 hours of raw footage in 60 seconds. (An additional 200 hours went into creating teasers.) A rough cut premiered at FTX on January 17, just nine days after filming wrapped, followed by a flurry of revisions alongside work on the teasers and special effects. The final ad was delivered to NBCUniversal on Monday.

NBC charged up to $7 million for 30 seconds of commercial airtime during the game. And there were other expenses: the advertising and PR agencies 360i, dentsu X and Mitchell in addition to dentsuMB; the production company Partizan; and editors at Mackcut.

Then there was the cost of decorating, for one of the 12 scenes shot for the commercial, the great hall of a castle with mounted deer skulls, a stuffed peacock, hundreds of candles with wax artistically hand cast, two Irish wolfhounds, courtiers with plastic face shields resting lightly on bead lined collars. All so that Mr. David, in full Elizabethan dress, could castigate the invention of the toilet.

As the FTX spot was spinning, a surge in coronavirus cases led to the shutdown of several other achievements around Los Angeles. Partizan asked workers to produce negative PCR tests, submit vaccine questionnaires, upload proof of vaccination and sit for nasal swabs inside their cars. The production company distributed more than 900 high filtration masks.