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GROWING PAINS

Robinhood amps up its little guy image with a $5.5 million SuperBowl ad

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
No longer this little.
Published

Robinhood is not shying away from the spotlight.

Amid a Reddit-inspired trading brawl that has roped in Elon Musk, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen, and the Federal Reserve, the stock-trading app at the center of it all is debuting its first SuperBowl ad.

The ad, which CNBC reports is the brokerage firm’s biggest brand campaign to date, peddles the idea that everyone is an investor. Shots of a father cradling his baby, a young business owner closing up shop, a distraught friend seeking consolation, a couple cutting loose on the dance floor, all culminate in an oddly timed message: “You don’t need to become an investor. You were born one.” Welcome to the future of day trading?

 

It stands to reason that a firm pegging itself as a democratizer of finance would leverage the glee surrounding a wildly popular sporting event to obscure its public relations crisis. Even as the GameStop stock bubble that sparked its troubles deflates, Robinhood is facing more than 30 class-action lawsuits over trading restrictions slapped on angry users, a questionable balance sheet, public shaming in upcoming Congressional hearings, and the possible wrath of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In some ways the company has thrived during the fiasco: Robinhood app downloads are way up. But the multi-billion cash infusion it sought last week to stabilize its business and regulatory scrutiny about wild volatility speak to an awkward twist: The more inexperienced investors it takes on, the more the little guy’s biggest advocate will bump up against Big Brother.

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