Coinbase wins the Super Bowl with a floating QR Code

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There are two great things about the Super Bowl if you do not follow American football.

The first is the halftime show. Over the years this has played host to era-defining performances by the likes of Prince (2007) Beyoncé (2013) and, most recently, Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar.

The second is the ads. For years, commercials shown during the Super Bowl have been considered amongst the most high profile and prestigious in the world, due to the huge viewing figures and broad demographics, both on the day and afterwards – thanks to YouTube and rampant sharing on social media.

For brands and their agencies it is a moment to push budgets and creativity to the limit.

It was during the Super Bowl that Apple’s iconic 1984 ad was first seen by a mass audience, which, with its cinematic pretensions, helped set the bar for what a television ad could be.

Some brands use emotion, as Toyota did very effectively this year, with the incredible story of the Canadian Paralympians, Brian and Robin McKeever.

Others try to win viewers over with humour, with varying degrees of success. I see you Budweiser (and I will still never ever buy one of your beers).

And then, of course, there is the tactic of deploying a guest appearance by a much loved celebrity or two. Sports betting firm Caesar’s Sportsbook hired actors JB Smoove and Halle Berry to play Julius Caesar and Cleopatra this year.

But the ad that everyone is talking about in 2022 did something else entirely.

Featuring nothing other than a floating QR code on a blank background that gently bounced off the sides of the screen like a 1990s Windows screen saver, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase cut through the noise by keeping things as simple as possible.

Coinbase app installs increased 309% on the day of the broadcast and rose another 286% the day after. It also leapt from 124 to number 2 in the App Store.

As is so often the case it pays to be bold.


A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette, Lancashire Post and other titles. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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