Ad of the Day: TD Ameritrade places visual ad in blockchain with ASCII art

TD Ameritrade blockchain ad

In a definite first, TD Ameritrade and Havas have placed an ad in the blockchain as a celebration of innovation and creativity.

The ad is made up of 68 Bitcoin transactions, each containing a string of 80 computer characters that come together to create ASCII art. It can only be viewed visually on a landing page. When it all comes together, the transactions form an image of a flag being held by a hand and featuring the TD Ameritrade logo.

Being the first to put an ad in blockchain was exciting for both the company and the agency.

“Being the first is always an awesome thing for me. Kids love surprises, and I love surprises,” said Harry Bernstein, chief creative officer, Havas New York.

Bernstein added that the goal was to demystify finance, cryptocurrency and the blockchain, and that TD Ameritrade consistently pushes Havas to help reach those goals. The idea came from the creative team at Havas New York, led by Peter Gosselin, creative director, who also has a passion for blockchain and cryptocurrency.

“It’s a pretty cool thing. We did a lot of research into how blockchain works. TD Ameritrade is an innovative company, and we have to keep pace with their innovations.,” said Gosselin. He added that highlighting the growing importance of cryptocurrency helped shape the conversation on how to accomplish the ad-within-blockchain. “We talked about a number of approaches, and what innovative ways there were.”

While putting the ad together the team had to consider that since each string is limited to only 80 characters, they had to be clever in character use, and chose only Unicode characters or simple typewriter characters (slashes, equal signs) to create the design. The first transaction contains an initial line, “See the full picture at tdameritrade.com/blockchain.” They then built the rest of the design from 67 additional transactions.

“Think of the blockchain as a digital ledger, like an excel spreadsheet. One of the columns is like a memo space and you fill it out with 80 bytes of information,” said Gosselin.

Each transaction contains a single line of the ASCII art, which, when taken in totality forms the larger image of a flag.

While the ad was a challenge, the team saw it as a fun, lighthearted way to celebrate one of the latest innovations in technology: the blockchain. And while there are no plans to create another ad like it at this time, TD Ameritrade is going to continue to lean into innovation because the company states that it’s in the company DNA. It also doesn’t hurt that the first foray into in-blockchain advertising is also permanent.

“Once we decided to do it, the transactions went pretty quick. We put (each one) inside of one transaction block. Each are cryptographically locked in time,” said Gosselin.

“Once you put it in there it can never come out. It’s uneditable,” added Bernstein.

Havas and TD Ameritrade have targeted finance subcultures – ones who influence the cryptocurrency and blockchain market and appreciate the mastery behind the ad – to help get the word out about the blockchain ad. It’s already been re-tweeted by those in that tight-knit community of investors and their social media posts have proven good word of mouth already.

“We’ve built it and they have come. It’s a piece of internet art and a really easy way to enjoy blockchain,” concluded Bernstein.

See the full ad and more tweets from the financial community by clicking the Creative Works box below.

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