Coinbase says young people’s gloomy future is fixable in stark ads directed by Mike Mills

In-house spots feature the next generation (including a talking baby) frustrated by the current dead-end financial system

Published On
Dec 07, 2023
A mother and infant child in a hospital bed

Editor's Pick

Coinbase continues its assault on the mainstream financial system with three new spots that acknowledge many young people’s bleak view of legacy institutions—a gloominess captured by director Mike Mills in his signature visual style.

The new campaign, created in-house and titled “Break the Cycle, Update the System,” launched a week ago. It includes the hero :60 below, in which a talking baby kicks things off—launching us into a dark and often surreal portrait of the financial future for young people today.


The core message—as communicated in prior Coinbase campaigns as well—is that the outdated financial system won’t serve the needs of the next generations like it did previous generations. Under pressure from student loans, high housing costs and high inflation, many see crypto and blockchain technology as a tool to take control of their financial futures and help break the cycle.

“Many have opined on the next generation. Few have borne witness to their actual experience and why they’re disillusioned with the status quo,” Kate Rouch, chief marketing officer at Coinbase, told Ad Age. “They’re not lazy. They’re bravely embracing a new way forward. These are our customers and the entrepreneurs in our ecosystem. You’re either with them, or behind them. We’re with them.”

The two :30s in the campaign are, in their way, even more powerful. They nicely embody the cyclical nature of the current financial system, and how it’s not leading anywhere good for young people today.


The campaign was conceived of and produced by Coinbase’s in-house creative team under Michael Tabtabai (former Google, Wieden+Kennedy). The spots are running during NBA telecasts on ESPN, ABC and TNT through Dec. 26.

In addition to the TV impressions, Coinbase said the work has earned more than 10 million views across X, TikTok and Instagram since launch, including 5 million in the first 48 hours.


Dec 07, 2023
Client :
Agency :
Coinbase Creative Studio
Director :
Mike Mills
Production :
Editorial :
Rock Paper Scissors
Editorial :
Peter Brandt
Patrick Murphy
Color :
Color :
Mark Gethin
Sound/Mix :
Sound/Mix :
Rohan Young
Music :
Emile Mosseri

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