Cannes Lions

The First Ad in the Blockchain


Presentation Image
Demo Film
Case Film






Because cryptocurrency and the blockchain are the most talked about, reported, discussed, and hyped financial terms of the year, TD Ameritrade's offering of Bitcoin futures was in danger of getting lost in the mania. So, rather than talking about blockchain, we decided to let the blockchain do our talking. The idea was simple: we needed to embed the first ever ad in the technology... except for one small caveat: the blockchain is decentralized, highly immutable, unchangeable, and unhackable. So how could we find a way to place a message into the most secure ledger in the world?


At its most basic level, the blockchain is a ledger that logs transactions. So how did we turn those transactions into an ad? With a function of the blockchain called OP_Return, which works like the memo space on a check, simple messages and characters can be placed within transactions in the blockchain. By linking 68 individual transactions, with 80 characters per transaction, we were able to create an image of a flag being planted. Within the context of the blockchain, part of the idea was itself was a challenge to discover the ad - which is part of the charm for those who explore the blockchain. However, for the majority, the experience was accessed via a dedicated site which housed all of the individual transactions in one macro view. We launched our content on our newfound media platform using social and PR to fuel interest and buzz around the initiative.


Rather than rely on traditional channels, we innovated our way into an emerging tech platform, transforming it into a media platform that would drive social currency. We hacked the blockchain by placing our ad inside of it. As a result, we saw a 229% increase in social mentions and earned 51.6 million media impressions in the first week alone—all with a total ad spend of $23.15. In the end, we became a part of the blockchain conversation by being a part of it. Literally.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

1 Cannes Lions Award
The Sneaky Pillar

TRY, Oslo

The Sneaky Pillar

2018, DNB BANK

(opens in a new tab)