WASHINGTON — Coinbase's Super Bowl ad was the odd one out last year. In a sea of elaborate, star-studded productions, the crypto exchange site's commercial featured one long shot of a QR code.
With more details emerging on companies' elaborate Super Bowl plans, it appears QR codes continue to have a prominent role in the marketing bonanza. At least two companies are expected to use the codes in their ads — and one of those is Anheuser-Busch, which will compete with other beer brands this year after the end of its 33-year exclusive Super Bowl deal.
The company is planning two golf-focused Michelob ULTRA ads. One ad — set to take up an expensive 60 seconds — features tennis legend Serena Williams and "Succession" actor Brian Cox in a "Caddyshack" riff. The other ad is still star-studded (also featuring pro athletes Rickie Fowler, Tony Romo and Alex Morgan), but QR codes and a Netflix partnership come into play.
You can watch the 60-second ad here:
According to a press release, viewers will be able to scan a QR code during the ad to unlock early access to Netflix's upcoming golf docuseries "Full Swing." Access to the first episode begins right after the Super Bowl and lasts until just before midnight Monday. (The streaming service says "Full Swing" will premiere for real a couple of days later.)
Anheuser-Busch won't be the only company urging viewers to take out their phones during the commercials. According to Ad Age, Avocados from Mexico will use a QR code to send fans to a webpage integrated with popular AI tool ChatGPT. There, users can press a button to generate a — presumably avocado-related —Twitter post. (The produce marketer's Super Bowl campaign is also set to feature a nude Anna Faris.)
Commercials have long been considered a big part of the Super Bowl experience — in a 2010 Nielsen survey, 51% of respondents said they enjoy the ads more than the game. With more than 100 million people tuning in last year alone, Super Bowl ad spots are a coveted-but-costly marketing opportunity. According to Variety, Fox is seeking $6 million to $7 million for each 30-second ad spot.
What are QR codes?
QR ("Quick Response") codes open a link when scanned with a smartphone camera. Companies use them to point people to their websites, app download pages, restaurant menus and more.
While Coinbase's ad may be what viewers remember when it comes to QR codes in Super Bowl ads, the strategy has shown up less prominently in numerous other commercials during the yearly matchup.
Kia's 2022 "Robot Dog" commercial included a QR code to let fans see the mechanical pup in their own home — part of a pet adoption awareness campaign with Petfinder. In the months before the 2022 game, Pepsi rolled out products marked with QR codes to send customers to its halftime show mobile app.