When a Super Bowl ad wins a Grand Prix at Cannes, it’s typically for outstanding craft, humor or performance. But at this year's Cannes Lions, cryptocurrency firm Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad scooped the Direct Grand Prix for a lo-fi spot simply featuring a bouncing QR code.
Coinbase ‘lo-fi’ Super Bowl ad takes Direct Grand Prix
What it was
The 60-second Super Bowl ad from Accenture Song (formerly Accenture Interactive) simply featured a QR code changing colors bouncing across the screen. That directed viewers to a page on Coinbase’s website that offered $15 in free bitcoin for signing up.
The ad immediately attracted attention, directing more than 20 million hits to the landing page in one minute. It was the most-discussed Super Bowl spot on Twitter that night and ultimately led to 14 billion media impressions and more than 445 million new Coinbase signups. Coinbase later became the second-most downloaded app, according to Apple data.
Why it won
Jury President Fred Levron, global chief creative officer at Dentsu Creative, said the ad disrupted the Super Bowl in a similar way to how crypto brands have disrupted the financial markets.
“Sometimes we think creativity is about the most complex ideas, or having the biggest budget or superstars,” said Levron. “This piece shows us that modern creativity is about understanding the media context you are going to show up in. You have to look at what the Super Bowl audience is doing and what they are exposed to? They are watching superstars and jokes etc., then this comes on screen and everyone stops. Everyone looked at it, took their phone and answered the call to action.”
“Going to the Super Bowl was truly a huge moment in their history,” he added. “Despite all the noise, Coinbase went big and brave enough to do something that’s the most brilliant thing we’ve seen this year."
Controversy, or clear winner?
Levron said the decision to award Coinbase was unanimous. There were six other Gold Lion winners, including Skittles “Apologize the Rainbow,” by DDB Chicago; AnNahar’s “The Elections Edition” by Impact BBDO (the Grand Prix winner in Print & Publishing this week) and Cadbury’s “Shah-Rukh My Ad” by Ogilvy Mumbai.
According to jurist Nicky Bullard, chairwoman of MRM Europe, there was a "heated debate" over one piece of work she did not identify that used new technology but had a similar idea to something that ran a few years ago. "Do we celebrate that technology has moved on? Or do we say it's OK to go back into the annals and find some great ideas?" she said.
But ultimately, the Grand Prix decision came down to results.
"How do you get all these people subscribing?" Bullard said. "You do the dullest thing in the world. When you see something as lo-fi as that, and for an agency to do that and a client to do that, I just think it is to be celebrated somewhere like this."