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Here's how one brand went viral and saw immediate results without a single celebrity or puppy in sight.
Image of silhouetted crowd raising their arms with colorful square boxes bouncing or hovering overhead

As someone who makes a living being creative, I’m risking losing my seat at the cool kids’ lunch table with this post. But here it goes...

In my humble opinion, this year’s Super Bowl commercials were decent—unlike the halftime show, which was off the hizzy! (Do the kids still say that?) There were some laughs for sure. You had your expected celebrity cameos, your tear-jerkers, your “Am I the only person who didn’t get that?” ones and your “How much did they pay for that one?” commercials. All in all, exactly what you’d expect from the Super Bowl.

But there was one that stood out.

Not because it was over the top or hilarious. It didn’t bring back an old favorite movie character or '80s songs. It didn’t even have a talking animal in it.

It was just a bouncing QR code.

For 60 seconds.

And that’s it.

But that’s all it had to be.

Because it worked.

Black screen with image of Coinbase QR code bouncing on the screen while changing colors


Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, was the brand behind the spot—and they went from #186 to #2 in the App Store overnight.

If you just look at finance apps, they were #1. Supposedly, they saw 20 million visitors to their landing page in the first minute after the ad ran.

In. The. First. Minute.

There was so much traffic, the site crashed.

If you didn’t see it, Google it. You’ll even find tons of videos of packed Super Bowl parties, dozens of phones in the air scanning the QR code as it slowly moves around the screen—with slightly inebriated fans of all ages, genders, races and demographics actually cheering out loud for nothing more than a bouncing call-to-action.*

What’s the lesson?

Creativity and simplicity are not enemies.

Being creative isn’t always about having the biggest explosions, the funniest punchline, the catchiest song or the most expensive spokesperson.

Do you need those things to capture attention sometimes? Absolutely. But sometimes—like during the Super Bowl when you have a captive audience that looks forward to watching the commercials—it’s just about understanding the brief, knowing the goal and finding the shortest possible path to success.

Well done, Coinbase.

(Oh, by the way... my actual favorite Super Bowl commercial? The Larry David one. That guy’s the best.)


*Before someone calls me out on it, the bouncing QR code was definitely a tribute to a classic meme-worthy moment from "The Office." And sure, that does account for some of the excitement. But it’s not like they hired Steve Carell to do a voiceover.