Reddit’s short Super Bowl commercial was a nod to its users who helped drive shares of…

It wasn’t.The San Francisco company, which describes its news-discussion forums as “the front page of the internet,” said it spent its entire marketing budget on the don’t-blink ad. It started off as a mock car commercial and then quickly transitioned into what resembled a post on Reddit’s website, with an orange background and a white block that contained a message.
Here’s what that message said: “Wow, this actually worked. If you’re reading this, it means our bet paid off. Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn’t buy a full one. But we were inspired and decided to spend our entire marketing budget on five seconds of airtime.
“One thing we learned from our communities last week is that underdogs can accomplish just about anything when they come together around a common idea. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the reason finance textbooks have to add a chapter on ‘tendies.’ Maybe you’ll help r/SuperbOwl teach the world about the majesty of owls. Maybe you’ll even pause this 5-second ad. Powerful things happen when people rally around something they really care about. And there’s a place for that. It’s called Reddit.”
The commercial was a nod to the users from the Reddit group r/WallStreetBets that helped drive shares of the struggling video game retailer GameStop. The move caused hedge funds and other Wall Street investors who had bet against GameStop to lose huge sums of money and rattled the broader market.
Many Reddit users characterized their moves as payback against the financial elite.
“This is for making us work on Thanksgiving night all the way through black friday at 9.50 an hour,” one Reddit user wrote, according to the Associated Press.
In a statement, Reddit Chief Marketing Officer Roxy Young said it has been “exciting” that people are learning and becoming interested in “the power of Reddit’s online communities.”
“Our Super Bowl ad was a mammoth effort from a lot of hardworking people who pulled together an impactful 5-second spot — which is no easy feat — in just a few days,” Young said. “This ad is a celebration of Reddit communities, and an aptly timed reminder that when people come together around their passion, powerful things can happen.”
Reddit said it does not comment on budget specifics, but those five seconds doubtless commanded a high price. CBS, which broadcast the Super Bowl this year, “virtually sold out” of its commercial spots for the big game, according to Variety. In 2021, a 30-second in-game commercial spot cost about $5.5 million. The same length of time cost about $5.6 million in 2020, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Reddit said Friday it had raised another $250 million from investors. Reports said the new financing valued the company at $6 billion. It was not clear why the company, which makes money from selling advertising to businesses and premium features to users, allocates so little money to marketing.
Jessica Flores is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jessica.flores@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @jesssmflores