Coinbase, FTX make Super Bowl debut, commit to giving away crypto

Super Bowl LVI's face-off between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams was also a face-off between two of the biggest crypto exchanges: FTX and Coinbase. 

The two crypto firms—which typically vie for customer order flow—competed for eye-balls through their own Super Bowl ads, confirming earlier reports that the firms would have spots in this year's event.

Coinbase's minute-long ad with a QR code bouncing across the screen invited viewers to participate in a large giveaway, with over $100 million in incentives for the crypto community expected this year. 

Here's how it works: New customers who join Coinbase by February 15 will receive $15 in BTC to get started on the platform. New and existing Coinbase customers can then enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 $1 million dollar prizes. 

The ad prompted a swift reaction on Twitter, where Coinbase started to trend minutes after the ad aired. 

"Probably the most effective ad so far during the Super Bowl! Was it just me or did you also open up the camera on your phone and scan the QR code?" said Michael Estime on Twitter. 

"The Coinbase commercial with just the QR code, and no dialogue or context, was kinda bold. They basically said "we only tryna sell to people who actually know what this is." said Carmen Rodgers in a Tweet.

In another video, which has now been viewed over 146,000 times on Twitter, a group watching the ad is cheering for the QR code to hit the corner of the screen, reminiscent of the bouncing DVD meme. 

“At Coinbase we have a goal of introducing a billion people to the cryptoeconomy. Crypto is about access for everyone, not old models of winner takes all, stoking fear or ‘FOMO’," said Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Touch. "We believe the best way to learn about crypto is to actually try it. That’s why we’re launching our biggest giveaway ever, whereby all new customers will start their crypto journey with some Bitcoin in their account to get started. In other words: less talk, more Bitcoin.” 

Still, Coinbase's website experienced issues soon after the ad aired. 

Coinbase had over 20 million hits on their website's landing page in one minute and saw engagement 6 times higher than previous benchmarks, according to a Tweet by the company's chief marketing officer. 

Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX also bought a spot for an ad during the sporting event featuring comedian Larry David. In a two-minute ad that takes viewers through history's greatest inventions—from the wheel, to a fork, to a toilet—David turns down the ideas as innovative. Then he's introduced to FTX, and says: "I don't think so. And I'm never wrong about this stuff."  

As part of its own sweepstake, FTX is giving away 7.54 BTC for those who enter before midnight.