Robinhood is running its first Super Bowl ad, just as the company faces a growing brand crisis. The commercial marks Robinhood’s biggest brand campaign, and it focuses on the idea that anyone can be an investor. That’s been at the center of Robinhood’s message since it was founded seven years ago, but recent stock restrictions have undermined Robinhood’s entire brand.
Robinhood temporarily banned small investors from buying stock in companies like GameStop last week, before placing restrictions on stocks associated with r/WallStreetBets — including GameStop, AMC, and Nokia. The move angered thousands of Robinhood customers trying to buy stocks, and the company’s app got review-bombed on the Google Play Store. While Google initially tried to salvage the app’s rating, it plummeted back down to just one star yesterday.
Robinhood is also facing dozens of lawsuits over the GameStop stock freeze, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also called on Congress to investigate the Robinhood app. Robinhood claims the restrictions were put in place due to clearinghouses suddenly requiring much higher deposits, but the company hasn’t specifically explained the cryptocurrency restrictions it also put in place.
This new Super Bowl commercial doesn’t address any of the controversy around Robinhood right now, making it rather awkwardly timed. Robinhood’s chief marketing officer, Christina Smedley, says the ad is designed to let people know more about the app. “It felt like this was a great stage for us to remind people about what we stand for and remind people about why the company was put into existence in the first place,” says Smedley.
Robinhood has disabled comments on the YouTube version of the commercial, but a version on Twitter is already seeing negative responses to this new Super Bowl ad.