As I watched Superbowl LVI last night, I paid special attention to the traditional media channel ads. It didn’t take long to notice that there were tons of crypto commercials. You know, cryptocurrency-based investing platforms and services offer life-changing bitcoin. Long, esoteric spots with A-list celebrities who showed you futuristic landscapes as they hinted at future riches.
An abundance of Brands and Personalities
As the game progressed, I kept seeing celebrity after celebrity. Each one of these hyper-expensive and beautifully produced spots was tied to a celebrity endorser.
In addition to the crypto spots, there were placements for Toyota, Squarespace, T-Mobile, Expedia, BMW, and more. Mega celebrities, backed by huge corporate marketing budgets, dominated these premium Ad buys.
Some Work Better Than Others
Some celebrity tie-ins work well. Arnold Swarzenegger and Salma Hayek make a great Zeus and Hera, of course, they drive the cars of the gods, BMW. But other celebrity-big brand hookups miss the mark. For example, I love Morgan Freeman, but his first-class, languid, professorial monologue about reconnecting Pangea does not inspire a jaunt to Istanbul.
The Best Ad Had No Celebrities
Despite the prevalence of famous people tying themselves to giant brands and their budgets, I thought the most effective spot of all featured no celebrities. Coinbase—a cryptocurrency exchange—displayed a floating QR code for 30 seconds. Those who acted received $15 in free bitcoin. Fantastic idea, get that captive audience to point their phones at the screen. No celebrities, no big-budget production costs, just pay the $7 million ad placement. This was a smart, risky move by Coinbase.
Great Idea, Almost Too Great
Sadly, the ad was so successful, the Coinbase website crashed from too much traffic. That result does not help build brand value because it diminishes the confidence audiences would like to have in a currency brand. Despite some negative consequences, the ad itself was innovative. The QR code broke through the clutter and became an influential ad that created awareness and brand recognition for Coinbase and the cryptocurrency industry.