Robinhood Super Bowl Ad Analysis
In the folklore of Robin Hood, the hero is said to have robbed from the rich and distributed to the poor. Robinhood, an online trading platform similarly takes pride in its capability to bring the riches of the stock market to everyday people - and it’s the same image they aimed to message in their new 2021 Super Bowl ad.
The days of wearing a suit and tie to look like an investor are long gone. In the Robinhood Superbowl ad, the people featured are as ordinary as it gets. They are faces you might even come across at work, school, or the supermarket. The ad begins at a vet clinic with a dog walking up to its owner, as the upbeat narrator questions the audience, “Don’t think you’re an investor?”. The rest of the ad follows the same concept - footage of ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. Short clips of a man jogging, a parent nurturing their child, a small business owner, and friends enjoying a dance, and a drink. The commercial in question is clearly an attempt to show that Robinhood is an investment app for the everyman, as the ad reassures at the end "we're all investors".
However, the ad was quickly ripped apart by those who noticed the hypocrisy the commercial represents. This was due to the company’s decision on January 28, 2021, to restrict people from buying stocks such as Gamestop, along with American Airlines, Nokia, AMC, and several others in the wake of the conflict between investors on the internet and large hedge funds. Which would ultimately incite one of the most insane moments in financial history. Blacklisting stocks was seen as an attempt to control the price of the stock because they didn’t want it to go any higher to help out the major investment companies who were betting on the stock to go down. Robinhood was letting their people sell their stocks, but not buy them. Essentially robbing the poor and giving it to the rich.
Congresswoman and congressman alike, from opposite sides of the political sphere, joined together to call out brokerages for ripping off retail investors. Which clearly came off as favoritism to the wealthy hedge funds. We’re all Investors. Even though Robinhood claims to offer investment for everyone, their business says otherwise. What began as a movement to shift away investors from the high commission paying brokerages into the zero commission paying model was accomplished ultimately at the expense of retail investors.
When your hard-earned money is at risk, you would want fairness in your investment, which should provide you with the ability to buy and sell secured securities without any form of interference from the brokerage. Especially during a time of pandemic where more than 10 million brokerage accounts were opened in 2020 alone. In the course of these vulnerable times where many people are dabbling in day trading to make a profit and keep a roof above their head, they should be able to rely upon their brokerage not to screw them over.
The happy customers showcased in the ad would be the same people who would be frustrated and angry at Robin Hood's attempt at market manipulation. Certainly, a small business wouldn’t enjoy seeing that their stocks plummeted because the brokerage they trusted restricted buying stocks. Neither would the new parents or the student worker.
Viewing the ad half-glass full, I think they did well in terms of representing people of color and women in investment, who have been historically disenfranchised in the financial industry.
The awkwardly timed airing is what ultimately fails the ad for me. If it had been released pre-Gamestop fiasco, it would have been like any other standard corporate ad, vanilla and unmemorable. One of which I would immediately forget the name of once the next ad begins to play. But taking into account what has occurred in the last two months, the ad becomes a symbol of what Robinhood promises as a company to its investors but ultimately fails to deliver.