The 'free bitcoin' Coinbase Super Bowl QR code ad crashed the crypto exchange, prompting a reaction by Edward Snowden
The Super Bowl half-time show was peppered with crypto commercials but perhaps none has been so successful as to crash its advertiser's website or critical trading app. If you couldn't figure it out, that little bouncing QR code ad that aired during the televised clash of the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams was the Super Bowl commercial of popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. The QR code bounced around in an 8-bit retro game style for about a minute in what looked like a remake of the famous DVD logo scene in The Office TV series, until it finally lodged perfectly into a corner. If you scanned the colorful QR code or visited the link at the end you were redirected to a Coinbase giveaway.
There, the cryptocurrency exchange pledged free US$15 worth of bitcoin for those who sign up for a new Coinbase crypto trading account as well as the chance to win US$3 million in prizes. The ad was so popular that it apparently crashed the Coinbase app and website starting a few seconds after it aired, whether caused by people visiting them lured by the free $15 BTC promise, or by those who simply wondered whose the cool Super Bowl commercial is, and went to check it out. According to the Chief Product Officer of Coinbase:
Coinbase just saw more traffic than we've ever encountered, but our teams pulled together and only had to throttle traffic for a few minutes. Humbled to have been witness to this... We had over 20M hits on our landing page in one minute. That was historic and unprecedented. We also saw engagement that was 6 times higher than our previous benchmarks.
Nevertheless, the significant financial outlay needed to run the Super Bowl commercial didn't really pay off for Coinbase, despite that it resulted in one of the most memorable crypto ads in a good while. The app and website glitch in fact lasted a bit less than an hour, during which people couldn't access their trading accounts. As a result, the Coinbase stock took a beating in pre-market trading today before it recovered, while even whistleblower Edward Snowden chimed in that the whole situation is "so very Internet" and could've been handled better.
Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Superbowl 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.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 14, 2022