The Super Bowl famously decides the champions of the US National Football League, and is now a historic tradition akin to a national holiday. Something equally exciting to look forward to is the Super Bowl commercials. Costing a cool $7 million for a 30-second slot, the Super Bowl ads is a place to show off, from the latest movie trailers and TV series to consumer products. This year has seen an increase in ads about cryptocurrency and one of them was particularly effective. Actually, it might have been too effective.
Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase crashed after its commercial featuring just a QR code aired. The ad was a homage to the DVD screensavers that used to bounce around on many TV screens before streaming was a thing. A QR code, which even managed to hit the corner perfectly, bounced around the screen for about a minute with music playing in the background.
The over 90 million viewers expected to be watching the game and an offer to give $15 worth of free bitcoin to new sign-ups turned out to be an explosive combination that took down Coinbases's app and website. In a way, they organized their own distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), although that was not their aim.
The irony of paying millions for a Super Bowl ad but not doing enough to ensure your website is robust enough to deal with it clearly tickled people.
One thing highlighted online was how the high number of crypto advertisements were eerily similar to the dot-com bubble, the prolonged market crash that followed the massive growth of online companies in the late 1990s. Others poked fun at Coinbase, suggesting that if it can’t plan for an influx of people signing up, how could it be trusted with their money? Only time will tell if truly there is no such thing as bad publicity.