2 Min Read
That QR Code Super Bowl Ad
More than 100 million people watched Super Bowl 56.
After the pandemic prompted a dip in advertising in 2021, the commercials were back in full force this year.
Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson for Amazon, Kevin Hart for Sam’s Club VIP, and Lindsey Lohan for Planet Fitness all starred in ambitious ads during the big game.
Then, for just a moment, the celebrities faded away – replaced by a slow moving, colorful QR code.
That was it. That was the whole ad.
It turns out the $14 million, minute-long ad was for Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform.
Even up against a good game with a good half time show, the ad managed to make its way into the conversation. It contrasted the sensory overload of the rest of the game with a simple execution. Taking a page from Steven Singer’s book, it created intrigue with no context or details.
Perhaps most importantly, it featured a clever use of a QR code with just enough movement to keep people interested. At any given Super Bowl watch party, there was probably someone close enough to the TV to scan the code, creating an easy bridge from the commercial to Coinbase’s CTA.
It was a risk that counted on getting audiences to take action and the coverage of Super Bowl ads to boost awareness. It seemed to pay off – at first.
Execution Comes Up Short
Lots of people ended up scanning the code. Too many, in fact. The Coinbase website crashed. As Inc. points out, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a digital financial platform trying to grow its base.
Most stories talking about the success of the ad mentioned that the website crashed. That’s a lot of brand awareness tied to a negative outcome.
The ad was in the news again this week after Coinbase’s CEO took to Twitter and shared a revised history of the ad’s creation, further deflecting the conversation away from the brand and its offering.