Robinhood is running its first ever Super Bowl ad – the company’s biggest brand campaign to date according to CNBC – in the midst of a growing brand crisis. The tone-deaf commercial focuses on the idea that anyone can be an investor – an idea that has been at the heart of Robinhood’s ethos since the company was founded nearly eight years ago. However, recent stock restrictions have undermined Robinhood’s entire brand.
Just last week, Robinhood temporarily banned small investors from buying red-hot stock from companies like GameStop (GME), before placing restrictions on stocks associated with r/WallStreetBets – including GameStop (GME), AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC), and Nokia (NOK) after hedge funds suffered huge losses in a short squeeze. The move (understandably) angered thousands of Robinhood users attempting to buy stocks – and the brand’s mobile app got review-bombed on the Google Play Store. While Google initially attempted to salvage the app’s rating, it plummeted back down to just one lowly star yesterday, and this time, Google isn’t riding to the rescue.
Robinhood is also facing dozens of lawsuits over the GameStop (GME) stock freeze, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has urged Congress to investigate the app and its trading curbs. Robinhood claims that 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.
The Super Bowl commercial does not address any of the controversy surrounding the brand, making it pretty cringe-worthy. CNBC reports that 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 getting blasted with negative responses.