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Brian Armstrong Reveals Behind the Scenes of Coinbase’s Super Bowl Ad

This year’s Super Bowl, the annual playoff championship game of the US National Football League, had multiple ads coming from the major crypto players, and one unusual advertisement by 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, still managed to get the attention of millions of users, crashing the website 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 advertising agency pitched a bunch of standard Super Bowl ad ideas, which he didn’t like because they were “standard super bowl ads tend to be gimmicky, celebrity cameo driven, going for a laugh etc.”

“It never made sense to me why I should like a product because a famous person got paid to say they like it,” Armstrong said.

According to him, they finally did manage to come up with some “wild ideas,” but they were running short of time and were not able to produce those ads.

One of the original ideas included a QR code, which was partly inspired by Reddit’s Super Bowl commercial in 2021:

“Key insight was if you can only flash something on screen for a moment people will google it later – how do we get them from TV to phone to convert,” the CEO said.

Armstrong added that since they were running out of time, they decided to make the whole ad a bouncing QR code. The team created the design and commissioned a song from the American electronic musician Com Truise.

However, the ad ostensibly received “a lot of pushback,” and required some special meetings and indemnity to get the approval for running on the Super Bowl: “They finally agreed and it turned out great.”

In fact, the ad was a huge success, so much so that the Coinbase app crashed following its airing. And according to Armstrong, it cost them less than USD 100,000.

“I guess if there is a lesson here it is that constraints breed creativity, and that as founders you can empower your team to break the rules on marketing because you’re not trying to impress your peers at AdWeek or wherever. No ad agency would have done this ad,” Armstrong said. 

   

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