No, Reddit’s 5-Second Ad Wasn’t the Shortest in Super Bowl History

Reddit’s nod to r/wallstreetbets and the GameStop stock market rollercoaster was 4.5 seconds longer than the record holder

Last Updated: February 7, 2021 @ 7:19 PM

Reddit bewildered millions of people watching the Super Bowl with a strange five-second ad acknowledging the insanity its users unleashed on Wall Street in the last few weeks. But as it turns out, that was not the shortest Super Bowl commercial ever.

Back in 2009, Miller released a one-second ad as part of its pretense-rejecting “High Life” ad campaign, the idea being that the beer company could make an effective Super Bowl commercial without having to spend millions for the 30 seconds that most ads run.

But even that wasn’t the shortest ad ever! The shortest ad ever was a half-second regional ad that also ran in 2009 for Ivar’s, a Seattle-based seafood restaurant chain that is known in Washington state for its commercials that parody movies like “Back to the Future.” With brands paying as much as $3 million for a 30-second ad during that Super Bowl, a half-second ad at that rate would cost $50,000.

Reddit, meanwhile, disguised its ad as a run-of-the-mill SUV ad before suddenly switching to a test pattern and then a card with the title, “Wow, this actually worked” — and a couple paragraphs that you could only read if you hit pause.

Super Bowl ads this year are averaging $5.5 million for a 30-second ad, meaning that Reddit probably paid $900,000-$950,000 for its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ad that aired at least twice during the game in major markets, including Los Angeles and New York.

“If you’re reading this, it means our bet paid off,” the ad read. “Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn’t buy a full one.”

Reddit went on to celebrate the users of subreddit r/wallstreetbets who rallied around the stock of video game store chain GameStop, sending the stock’s price through the roof and costing billions of dollars for hedge funds that were short-selling the stock. The users also boosted the price of other companies like the cinema chain AMC Entertainment, which was able to reduce its immense debt by $600 million thanks to the stock surge. In the ad, Reddit said that the Wall Street rally proved that “underdogs can accomplish just about anything when they come together around a common idea.”

But Reddit wasn’t the only company connected to the Wall Street roller-coaster that had a Super Bowl ad. Robinhood, the investor app that many Redditors was used to buy stock in GameStop and AMC, also released its own 30-second ad.

The ad has been panned on the company’s Twitter page by users still angry at the app for blocking further purchases of stock for GameStop and other companies targeted by r/wallstreetbets a day after the stock surge made headlines.

“You don’t need to become an investor,” the narrator of the Robinhood commercial says. “You were born one.”