3 Reasons Why Coinbase’s Minimalist Ad Was Genius

The sad thing is no one is going to remember the Crypto.com with Lebron James.

But we’ll be talking about Coinbase for awhile.

Their spot was the simplest, yet most impactful ad to air on Super Bowl 2022.

Yep, I said it.

The genius behind it?

Think about it.

Nobody introduced QR codes as a revolutionary thing in society.

Fun fact: QR Codes were developed in 1994 by the Japanese corporation Denso Wave — a division of Denso, which is a subsidiary of the automobile company Toyota Motor Corporation — to track automobile parts during the assembly process.

When QR codes came around no one blinked an eye.

And then in 2021 something unexpected happened. COVID-19 made QR codes vital.

I remember going to Aquis in San Jose, CA for take-out margaritas and seeing everyone pointing their phones at the QR code to figure out how to order.

After enough waitresses and baristas pointed at a sticker with a QR code on the counter, we learned.

We adapted.

We advanced.

That’s what makes this commercial so brilliant.

Coinbase did what the best writers, filmmakers, directors, and novelists do. They give the readers just enough information to make the audience think they’re smart. Give them just enough crumbs to make them think they figured out the puzzle.

So when that QR code popped up — what did we all do?

We took a beat.

We asked, what is this?

We searched our conditioned minds and made a connection that made us feel smart.

We pulled out our phones and took a photo.

I personally tripped over my English bulldog as I ran to the screen, fearing the code would disappear before I had a chance to scan.

It was also the only time I cheered during the game.

Key Ingredients That Made This Commercial An Advertising Chef’s Kiss


How many people in your living room tried guessing what the QR codes meant? How many people texted you after the commercial aired?

Fun Fact: The cost of an advertising promotion is 100% deductible on taxes. Everyone is talking about how much these ads cost to run. That’s not what we should be focusing on…we should be focusing on brand awareness and ad generates-and in the case of Coinbase. That awareness just smashed any ad in history.


Every agency working on Super Bowl commercials this year understood the assignment: Nostalgia.

90s throwbacks dominated.

It makes sense that Coinbase incorporated retro Pacman sounds and artwork.

We’re nostalgic for a simpler time and Coinbase delivered.

Plus, it seemed like all the ads were geared towards Millenials. And that was strategic.

Electric vehicles?

44% of Gen Zers and 47% of millennials (ages 25 to 40) would consider buying an electric vehicle within the next five years. Conversely, a minuscule 1% of baby boomers (ages 56 to 75) currently drive an electric vehicle, and 32% would consider buying one within the next five years — both lows.


Crypto is the only financial vertical that has a higher participation rate among younger adults than older adults: 15% of those 18 to 34 years old own cryptocurrencies, compared with 11% of those ages 35 to 64 and 4% of those 65 and older.


With consumers experiencing more marketing than ever before, it's no wonder that most businesses fall into a stream of mediocrity. With the amount of competition your business is up against on a day-to-day basis and in promoting your brand online - bearing witness to an overflowing plethora of local efforts competing with yours - it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Most brands are finding success by utilizing gamification in order to drive engagement. Gamification taps into competitive human nature. Winning makes people feel good, which encourages them to engage with your brand more often if they have a chance at winning something from you!

The Coinbase commercial surprised and delighted audiences across the country.

Making the ad BRILLIANT.

Customers who keep your brand’s name in their minds for a long time after having an enjoyable experience with a branded game are valuable assets to your business.

The most important factor is that these people may get emotionally attached to the product or service, which will only make them more loyal customers than indifferent ones.


The Coinbase commercial succeeded because they kept it simple and straightforward. Remember, as a brand, company, product, or service — you don’t want to complicate matters with point systems that are hard to comprehend or leaderboards that involve a complex set of rules and criteria.

So…what did you think of the Coinbase commercial?



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store