LOS ANGELES — In a Super Bowl where many advertisers took commercials to star-studded extremes, one ad took a... different route.
Coinbase's ad for its cryptocurrency exchange site featured one long shot of a QR code (a type of barcode that can be scanned by smartphones) floating around the screen like a classic screensaver. But that's not all -- it also slowly changed color. If you immediately took to Google to figure out what that was, you're not alone. Google Trends says it became a breakout search.
If you didn't scan the code quickly enough to solve the "mystery," it links to a page on Coinbase's website promising $15 in free Bitcoin to those who sign up within a certain time window. At the time of the ad Sunday evening, about 44 hours were left on the clock.
Coinbase isn't alone; among the 30 new advertisers are several cryptocurrency exchanges. Advocates of the blockchain-based digital currencies that have captured the interest of investors and financial service firms alike, want to lure regular Americans too. Exchanges Crypto.com, FTX and eToro have all announced Super Bowl ad plans, and others have been rumored but not confirmed.
While the Super Bowl can be a good place to launch a new brand or category into the public consciousness, there are risks of getting lost in the shuffle as first-time advertisers. And they have a big task with 30 seconds.
“They need to educate the public on what their product is, why it’s not risky, and where they can access it,” said Villanova marketing professor Charles Taylor.
NBC sold out of its ad space briskly and said an undisclosed number of 30-second spots went for $7 million, a jump from the $6.5 million that last year’s ads went for.