Superbowl Acquisition Tactics

Interactive Story by Growth.Design

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in this case Study, I'll show you exactly how Expensify uses its Superbowl ad as a "meta" product demo to acquire new users and how to avoid costly onboarding mistakes.  

PLus you'll learn a bunch of UX & micro-copy tips along the way!

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Louis-Xavier Here.

This is me!

The Superbowl is always pretty hectic, Not just because of the game, but for everything that comes with it...

...Especially when it comes to Ads!

This Year, one commercial got my full attention...

...why Expensify?

full Disclosure...
I always hated doing expense reports. I used to ask colleagues to pay for company expenses, so that I wouldn't Have to deal with it. 😏 

however, Now that I have a business, it's a little harder to avoid...

...What's up with this Rap video you can expense? Let's check their website 👉 season coming soon...Am I the only one who dreads talking to his accountant*?

Back to Expensify... 

Yep... that's the guy from the Rap Video!

ux tip

Having an immediate visual recall from the previous brand touchpoint puts the user in familiar territory right away.


Nice Tagline!

Concierge? Probably something to help me get set up?

Hmm, Connect?
I've never been here so I guess I need to signup first? 

wait... Did they just solve the never-ending battle of sign-up vs log in?

The copy really speaks my language.


Anyhow... Let's expense that Rap video!

They went all out! A full site just for the Campaign.

Scrolling down...

CTA right after first scroll (good timing). plus That sounds exactly like what we're here for!

The whole page is packed with things that we can expense in the video (like these...)

ok! Let's get right to it!

Ohhhh, was I wrong to skim through the whole page quickly... You'll see that soon enough!



Ok... Let's download the app to see how it works!

Back home?

hmm, having a 3rd tab for one flow seems a bit excessive! especially since the home is practically identical!

OK! Let's put our phone number!

Clear Steps! They're preparing me for when I'll get the app on my phone.

"I wonder how long 2chainz will remain on the home page... and how they currently translate this brand image to the app...


Quick & Easy!


The transition from desktop to Mobile so far is a breeeeezzzeeeee!

Good Social Proofing here! 2.15k Ratings; There has to be a Call-to-action at some point to rate the app!

Can't wait to see how they timed it...

Again Very clear micro-copy here!

micro-copy tip





"I even took the time to check out these nice value propositions!"

OhHH! They really went all out with 2chainz.

Now I really wonder how they will update their brand image after this stunt!

We can do this!

Nice Reminder!


ux tip

to increase the discoverability* of the action; Simplify everything in the interface so users have 1 thing to focus on.


*Discoverability refers to the ease with which users can discover features and actions within an application.




WE're in!

Without a password...

ding ding



ux tip

📩 Inboxes are a dark hole where users get sucked into and abandon your app. delay the first email if you can and use it to your advantage instead!


🧪Growth Experiment to test!


it could have been interesting to see some of that 2chainz's personality in the copy of that email. Skrrrt!

That's a pretty typical "validate your address" email.


ux tip

Remember every brand touchpoint is an opportunity to create a deeper relationship with the customer.


...And back!

it's worth noting that even though the timing of this validation wasn't perfect, the back and forth was seamless.


However, you'll have to wait a bit. I have a video to expense!

We meet again Concierge! I see that you're here to help me get through a smooth onboarding.

hmm... Did we just Leave the app to go on the first website that asked us to download the app?

I guess that we can watch the video here!

Let's play along...

I Just paused the video to take a snapshot of the first expense.

I guess I have to go back to the app now?

I'm pretty sure this isn't right...

hmm... what now?

hmm... where can I expense that gold toilet?

Let's try this.

sorry concierge, you seem great and all but... The timing is a bit off for me right now. I want to complete my first mission. we'll have to do this another time.



Adding my golden toilet snapshot.



Maybe I should have read a little better...

however, it's a great example of "people don't read..."

Ok, let's do this again! this time let's use the smartscan feature.

Makes sense!

OK! so I started the video on my computer. And now, I'M trying to pause it at the exact right time to scan QR Codes!

Which brings the question... Does Expensify only scan QR Codes?



IT worked! Auto-fill and everything!

contextual help to guide us on what to do next!



Psychology insight

Expensify is slowly shaping* our behavior;


in other words, expensify is more complicated than this, but they want you to feel that it's effortless! we see this pattern often in video games.

To teach something new, start with the purest form of the behavior; reinforce increasingly by revealing more and more until the desired behavior. 

classic terms & Conditions.

However, forcing notifications seems a bit radical...

Let's keep our eyes on the prize!


Do not touch...

Appealing!... but, is the incentive strong enough for me to share?

Personally, I always feel that My odds to win are probably really small even if I "double" them. Sorry... I rather keep A clean social media account!

growth experiment

if the goal is to create a the best product demo ever*, why not have a clear CTA to scan another object from the video? instead of asking for shares!


*Stated in the F.A.Q by Expensify 

ding ding


quick confirmation!

Another ask...

...I get it, if you don't ask, people won't share. but at the same time, you just asked me in the app... I'd be curious to see the click-through in this email!

"Ok let's get back to the app and finalize the onboarding... our concierge is still waiting!"

The demand is so polite! how can we say no?

ding ding


expensify truly seems like a game changer in the business of accounting/expense reports. however...

ux tip

early-stage customers are fragile. Help them use the app, before asking for reciprocity. They'll be more prone to recommend & share it if they like the product!!


🧪Growth Experiment to test!

Let's Be careful not to burn customers early in the funnel just for viral growth.

Back into the app... it's been a long journey! 

This is the end of part 1... but you're not leaving empty-handed; here's a map of the key events that defined this experience so far ->

The Story so far...






Overall Experience Score



The build-up of this stunt was great. The rap video with 2Chainz was absolutely Dope!

The signup phase was easy to go through; striking micro-copy & smooth login.

That's where it got a bit tedious. The app took us on a wrong path, and it wasn't easy to recover from...

At that point, I spent a lot of time to hit a wall... The golden toilet scan wasn't working.

After a bit of research finally got to a small win! I finally got to expense that golden toilet! 

All the Call-to-actions for sharing the app with a friend add up; I feel a bit used...

So far...!



*All Bitmoji Avatars are owned exclusively by Snap Group Limited.
All rights reserved, Growth by Design inc.
** Teardown Philosophy: We understand that companies subject to teardowns have time and resource constraints that we do not. We also acknowledge that they do their maximum to provide the best experience possible to their customers. The goal is to share our knowledge not only to our audience but with those companies so that they can also benefit from outside expertise. Some of our comments might be things that you already tested that didn't work, or maybe you already made the conscious decisions not to take action due to many factors that we can't know, and we genuinely respect that. We also come from the product world! With ❤️Cheers!

How Expensify Acquired Tons Of New Users With its 5M$ Superbowl Ad

By Louis-Xavier

How Expensify Acquired Tons Of New Users With its 5M$ Superbowl Ad

We are taking a deeper look at the story of how a fintech company, Expensify, acquired tons of new users with its latest 5M$ Superbowl ad. Oh, yeah! 2Chainz was a big part of that stunt ⛓. Discover exactly what to do to delight more customers and grow your business.

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