Spike Lee's New Ad Touts Crypto as the Great Social Equalizer
Spike Lee's in the money these days. New money, that is—digital currency.
"Old money, as rich as it looks, is flat out broke," Lee proclaims in a short film he also directed for Coin Cloud, which operates cryptocurrency kiosks nationwide.
"They call it green, but it's only white," he says, as images of U.S. bills and coins flit past. "Where's the women? The Black folks? And the people of color? Native Americans got a nickel. A nickel!? People don't even stop to pick up a nickel off the sidewalk."
"Old money's not going to pick us up. It pushes us down—exploits, systematically oppresses," Lee says from Wall Street, employing one of his trademark dolly shots as he speaks directly into the camera.
"But new money—new money is positive, inclusive, fluid, strong, culturally rich. Where status is anything but status quo," he continues.
Actors M.J. Rodriguez and Kendrick Sampson, drag performer Shangela, singer Teyana Taylor and others make cameos to drive home that diversity message, as '70s club-thumper "Galaxy" by War swells on the soundtrack.
"Do your own research," Lee concludes, as we watch people use Coin Cloud machines, exchanging old money—most pointedly, a Harriet Tubman $20 bill—for Bitcoin and other forms of crypto. "The digital rebellion is out. Old money is out. The new money is in."
Developed with Cambpell Ewald, the two-minute film streams on platforms such as YouTube, with this :30 edit running across Comedy Central and other cable channels.
"I had a vision of us creating more than a commercial and actually starting a real conversation as we are talking about a major flex in the financial market: the democratization of currency," Coin Cloud marketing chief Amondo Redmond tells Muse. "I needed someone whose collaboration would add validity to what is a growing yet still not-well-defined category. Spike is that person. He's not only been at the forefront of key cultural moments, but he has defined them."
Initially signed to direct, Lee felt so strongly about the topic that he chose to narrate and appear on camera—and his participation struck a deep chord with C-E creative lead Clarence Bradley.
"His movie School Daze changed my life," Bradley says. "I remember my dad picking me up from the theater and shouting, 'Did you know Black people make movies?' Until that moment, the idea of being creative as an occupation was foreign to me. Spike is the reason I'm in a creative industry today."
"His films have always focused on social equity themes—that's exactly what I needed," Redmond adds. "Spike brings a cinematic edge to his work while keeping a sense of simplicity."
Indeed, the commercial generates considerable heat from Lee's presence and visual elan, without ostentatious camera tricks or artsy bells and whistles. That said, the spot has detractors, with some claiming its depiction of crypto as a social equalizer doesn't quite jibe with reality.
"Our goal is for people to hear our message and go to one of our machines to use our services," Redmond says. "However, first hear the message. Do your own research. Then come try us."
Amondo Redmond, Global Chief Marketing Officer
AJ Lewis, Marketing Director
Jonathan Parra, Product Designer
Elise Villadoz, Social Media Manager
Silmo Bonomi, Chief Creative Officer
Clarence Bradley, Chief Creative Officer
Kari Shimmel, Chief Strategy Officer
Nat Resende, Executive Creative Director
David Mackereth, Executive Creative Director
Colin Padden, Director of Account Services, Detroit
Justin Morley, Account Supervisor
Chris Marchegiani, Group Director, Integrated and Brand Strategy
Martha Torres-Carter, Associate Director, Integrated Production
Kelly Maines, Director, Business Affairs
Susan Keeler-Perkins, Senior Talent Manager
Matt Burns, Studio Manager/Senior Editor
Suzanne McGee, Executive Director, Public Relations
Chris Elkjar, Group Director, Digital Experience
Pierre Fuger, Associate Director, Digital Production
Travis Lafferty, Senior Producer, Digital Client Solutions
Sally Burger, Digital Project Manager
Andrew Peters, Digital Designer
Jamie Rubin, SVP Managing Director Media
Helen Giles, Group Director Media Investments
Sharon Cooper, Media Planning Directors
Jim Lorden, Media Planning Directors
Ken Carver, Associate Media Director Investment
Todd Chawansky, Assistant General Counsel
David Flumignan, Channel Delivery Manager
40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks
Director – Spike Lee
Assistant Director – Mike Ellis
2nd AD – Tim Stacker
Production Designer – Anthony Dimeo
UPM / Line Producer – Jason Sokoloff
Director of Photography – Kai Saul
Creative Editor, Adam Gough
Harbor Picture Company
John Contino, Chief Creative, Contino