Coinbase backpedals over Super Bowl ad controversy – Business Insider

  • Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong sparked controversy with his tweets about the company’s Super Bowl ad.
  • Martin Agency CEO Kristen Cavallo tweeted back that her agency came up with the concept for the ad.
  • The Coinbase Super Bowl commercial featured a QR code floating around the screen.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong kicked off an advertising-related controversy this week by claiming on Twitter that his company’s spartan Super Bowl commercial was developed in-house. The resulting clash revealed the behind-the-scenes messiness over partnerships and ideas that can occur in the world of big budget, high stakes advertising.  

The chief executive of the cryptocurrency exchange platform tweeted out a thread Monday to explain the genesis of the company’s Super Bowl advertisement, which featuring a floating QR code. He wrote that he rejected “a bunch of standard” game day pitches from an “outside agency.” Armstrong went on to critique “gimmicky” commercials and encouraged founders to allow their teams “to break the rules on marketing.”

“No ad agency would have done this ad,” he wrote.

Martin Agency CEO Kristen Cavallo fired back on Twitter, claiming that her advertising agency actually pitched the idea for the ad. Previously, Coinbase had credited digital agency Accenture Interactive for the commercial, according to AdWeek.


In a response to AdWeek’s story, Cavallo wrote that she wanted to push back against companies “claiming credit and disregarding agencies,” saying that she was “advocating” for both Accenture Interactive and “the industry.”


Coinbase CMO Kate Rouch took to Twitter to clarify, explaining that the collaboration between her team and Accenture Interactive was so “seamless” that Armstrong had mistakenly assumed that the ad was developed in-house.

“The Coinbase team and I deeply value our partners,” Rouch wrote. 

Rouch went on to say that she “made the call that Martin Agency wasn’t a fit for Coinbase” shortly after onboarding. She wrote that Accenture Interactive came up “with the idea of inserting a QR code in a popular meme.”

“The meme as a conceptual underpinning was creative genius and a unique use of the QR code and was what unlocked our SB success,” she wrote. “Breaking up is hard to do. I wish the team at The Martin Agency all the best.”

Armstrong himself also clarified in a later tweet, giving credit to “the creative firm” who made the Super Bowl spot happen.

“Honestly, felt like we were all one team so I didn’t fully realize it, thank you!” Armstrong wrote.

When asked for comment, Martin Agency representatives pointed to Cavallo’s post about the situation on LinkedIn. In the statement, Cavallo wrote that her pushback against Coinbase “tweet wasn’t about IP or credit” as she understands “multiple agencies can arrive at a similar idea.”

“I objected to the dismissive tone of the thread and the denigration of ad agencies,” she wrote. “I felt compelled to respond to the bravado of, ‘No agency would have done this ad,’ because in fact, an agency did. The purpose of my response was to stand up for agencies and creatives, and the value we provide.”

Accenture Interactive and Coinbase did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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