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Coinbase QR Code Super Bowl Ad for Free Bitcoin Yields Over 20M Hits in a Minute

The buzzy, award-winning commercial yielded a “historic and unprecedented” number of users, said Coinbase.

3 min read
Coinbase is one of the leading crypto exchanges. Image: Shutterstock.

In brief

  • Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad, which showed only a QR code on a black backdrop, drove over 20 million users to its site within one minute.
  • The ad, produced by Accenture Interactive, won the Clio Awards’ “Super Clio” for best Super Bowl commercial.

Super Bowl LVI yielded a diverse array of commercials, as it does every year, but one appeared to stand out above the rest and dominate the conversation—and it came from Coinbase.

The cryptocurrency exchange opted to use its 60-second window to simply display a QR code, which slowly bounced around the black backdrop much like an old DVD player screen saver. Scanning the QR code brought you to Coinbase’s site, where new users could get $15 in free Bitcoin, while existing users could sign up for a $3 million sweepstakes.

Coinbase’s advertisement stood out from the lavish and typically celebrity-packed productions of other companies, including the Larry David-starring ad from rival FTX. In fact, the Coinbase commercial might have been too effective: many users reported being unable to access Coinbase’s site or app due to the overwhelming demand on the web servers.

In a blog post today, Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch wrote that more than 20 million people tried to access Coinbase within a minute last night as a result of the ad. That’s more than six times higher than any previous load that Coinbase had dealt with, and it overwhelmed the site, leading to the issues that some encountered.

“Our engineering teams load-tested our site to handle millions of simultaneous hits. The volume we experienced was astounding in comparison to our projections,” said Rouch, who added that the traffic was “historic and unprecedented.”

Coinbase’s advertisement drove people to the site, and has already racked up a notable accolade, as well. This morning, the Clio Awards announced that its panel of judges—which include crypto and NFT enthusiasts such as Mark Cuban and Gary Vaynerchuk—picked Coinbase’s ad as the best of the Super Bowl.

Accenture Interactive, which produced the ad for Coinbase, will receive the “Super Clio” trophy to mark the win for “creative excellence,” per an announcement. The Clio Awards called the ad “Less Talk, More Bitcoin,” while Coinbase itself has called it “WAGMI,” citing the popular crypto community acronym meaning, “We’re all gonna make it.”

Social media reactions to Coinbase’s commercial were mixed—as with most things, particularly those crypto-related. Some viewers praised the advertisement’s distinctive and eye-catching approach, while others were perplexed by its simplicity… or understandably frustrated that the site didn’t work when they tried it.

“Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Super Bowl ad to direct people to their website and $0 to make sure that website doesn't crash 10 seconds after the ad starts is so very internet,” wrote famed whistleblower Edward Snowden in a viral tweet.

Some others, meanwhile—particularly those who work in information security (infosec), criticized Coinbase for using a QR code in its commercial. Scanning a QR code can potentially lead your device to a destination that triggers malicious processes on your device. Coinbase’s ad didn’t do that, obviously, but some still urge caution in interacting with QR codes.

“Crypto security: ‘DON’T EVER CLICK LINKS OR SCAN ANYTHING.’ Coinbase: Scan this random unexpected QR code on a commercial!” joked Twitter user discoverXNFT.

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