Bitcoin’s ‘first advert’ ingeniously bridges counter cultural and conservative audiences

Bitcoin’s ‘first advert’ ingeniously bridges counter cultural and conservative audiences

Bitcoin advertising campaigns are now upon us after the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) approved the digital asset to be traded by financial giants including BlackRock and Grayscale. The first of these ‘Bitcoin ETF’-inspired adverts cleverly plays to audiences new and old: tapping into meme culture, while maintaining an old-school sensibility.

Bitcoin’s background

Among the first things on a time traveller’s to-do list would surely be buying Bitcoin in the late noughties. At the time, however, the mainstream was deterred by its revolutionary, anarchic narrative.

The macroeconomic picture, and Bitcoin’s price, have changed dramatically since then, as the cryptocurrency went on to become the fastest growing brand of all time, with a market cap that vies with the likes of Amazon and Apple.

Impressive then, that a brand can gain such traction without a commercial push. Well, until now.

Bitwise’s brief but bold advert

The ‘Spot Electronically Traded Funds (ETFs)’ granted to Bitcoin have been rumoured for months, and the first offering from Bitwise Asset Management dropped at a time when the ETFs were highly anticipated, but not confirmed.

The commercial, whose creative development and production were created in partnership with Los Angeles-based Studio City, features Jonathan Goldsmith, an actor renowned for his role as "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in the Dos Equis beer advertising campaigns, hooking viewers in with a cryptic (geddit?) statement: "You know what's interesting these days? Bitcoin," drawing a parallel between his iconic character and the ‘intriguing’ nature of bitcoin.

Canny moves.

Bitcoin’s underdog, word-of-mouth narrative was uniquely effective at appealing to its fledgling audience of early adopters, most of whom skewed toward a younger demographic. Bitcoin didn’t need adland, and the mainstream media was largely critical of its implications.

The challenge then, for Bitwise and Studio City was how to nod to Bitcoin’s maturation, and its likely use in 4O1k investments and pension funds, while not alienating the younger demographic. 

The solution is a low-key stroke of creative genius.

The use of Jonathan Goldsmith was a canny move. He is already known to younger audiences through the widespread ‘really interesting man’ meme, where his reassuring, confident stance is juxtaposed with relatable text, input by witty internet dwellers.

And yet, Goldsmith’s seasoned, learned aesthetic works on screen for those without any knowledge of his storied memetic adoption. Or, indeed, for those who just recognise him from the original Dos Equis campaign.

The short, moody direction of the ad is also impactful, with a memorable one-liner that creates a sense of intrigue and invites further research, without ever seeming like a ‘hard sell’.

Adland then, could learn a lot from Bitwise’s succinct, deceptively layered messaging tactics. Let’s see if the world’s largest investment companies can compete.

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