This year’s Super Bowl, the annual playoff championship game of the US National Football League, had several ads from the major crypto players, and an unusual advertisement from the major crypto exchange Coinbase seems to be an unlikely Super Bowl winner.
The ad, which was not as cinematic or soul-stirring as one might expect, nevertheless managed to attract the attention of millions of users and crash the site for the exchange.
And today Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong shed more light on how they came up with the idea. He said that, initially, an ad agency put up a bunch of standard Super Bowl ad ideas, which he didn’t like because they are “standard Super Bowl ads are usually playful, celebrity cameo driven, laugh, etc.” It never made sense to me why I should like a product because a famous person was paid to say they liked it,” Armstrong said.
According to him, they finally managed to come up with some “wild ideas”, but they ran out of time and they could not produce these ads.
One of the original ideas included a QR code, partly inspired by Reddit’s Super Bowl commercial in 2021:
“The most important finding was that if you can only display something on the screen for a moment, people will google it later – how do we get them from the TV to the phone to convert it,” the CEO said.
Armstrong added that they decided to turn the entire ad into a jumping QR code because they were running out of time. The team came up with the design and commissioned the American electronic musician Com Truise with a song.
However, the ad reportedly received “a lot of pushback“ and required some special meetings and compensation to get approval for the Super Bowl: “They finally agreed and it turned out to be great.”
In fact, the ad was a huge success, so much so that the Coinbase app crashed after it was broadcast. And according to Armstrong, it cost them less than US dollars.
“I think if there is a lesson here, it is that limitations generate creativity and that as a founder you can empower your team to break the rules of marketing because you are not trying to impress your colleagues at AdWeek or wherever. No advertising agency would have made this ad,” Armstrong said.