Decentralized Futures/OpenGov: "Polkadot Does What Ethereum Cannot" 2024 Brand Marketing Campaign

The Idea:

With almost all marketing functions being fully decentralized by the end of January 2024, and a new Polkadot 2.0 technology stack (CoreTime, CorePlay, CoreJam, PolkaVM, DA) being developed in 2024, this proposal aims to fund:

  1. A competent advertising agency, to lead execution on a Polkadot 2.0 rebrand that:
  • Distinctly develops Polkadot’s brand as a contrast to its #1 Competitor, Ethereum, explicitly addressing them rather than pretending they don’t exist
  • Explicitly addresses everyday humans, appealing to their emotions
  • Actively rejects any specific technical details of the technology stack as being relevant (DA, Execution sharding, async backing, map reduce, etc.)
  1. A high reach advertising campaign to focus on awareness of the above branded assets and a Primary Narrative across all high reach social media channels: Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook/Instagram, TikTok, …


The heart of what all true believers of Polkadot actually believe is this:

or some variant of

There is no equal sign in the last statement, absolutely none. We imagine this narrative has not been pursued for many historical reasons, but the simplest reason: Gavin Wood and Parity were involved in Ethereum’s founding, and Gavin Wood himself values Respect and cannot singlehandedly pursue the above narrative without being disrepectful. With OpenGov and the Decentralized Futures program able to support decentralized marketing, we can develop the above narrative with the same long-term interests of Polkadot in mind as its founders. This is not to say that we aim to be _dis_respectful, but we can aim to be competitive in the following way.

Much in the same way that the foundations of personal computing were set by Steve Jobs/Apple and Bill Gates/Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s, the foundations of what we currently call “Web3” were set by Ethereum founders Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood over the last 10 years. The difference is, both men were involved in the founding of Ethereum. In almost every way, Gavin Wood and Polkadot are like Steve Jobs and Apple: uncompromising in their convictions, intently focussed on the absolutely best product. In contrast, Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum are like Bill Gates and Microsoft, taking a pragmatic approach and accommodating as many people as possible.

The differences between the two communities are striking, but the awareness of Polkadot in the non-Polkadot community is virtually non-existent. To the outside world, Polkadot is just another blockchain. To the Polkadot community, the outside world is filled with pointless garbage: airdrops, shitcoins, shilling, unpredictability of defi, shilling, extending unfortunately to a near disdain of marketing itself. To Polkadot insiders, everything in Polkadot fundamentally is safe and predictable, and with the Polkadot 2.0 tech, actually scales. But the rest of the world barely knows and… barely can be brought to care because at the core, Ethereum polluted the world with… pointless garbage.

It is now clear that Polkadot 2.0 is aiming to be a ubiquitous map-reduce computer that Ethereum or Bitcoin can never be. Ethereum is damned to a rollup-centric future and cannot do what Polkadot 2.0 will do. It is clear that Non-Ethereum competitors Coinbase (with Base, its L2), Solana, Avax, … are appealing to everyday retail with simple non-technical narratives that are limited in basically the same way as Ethereum. We believe it is necessary and timely for Polkadot via DFP or OpenGov to invest in the Polkadot Brand Marketing by competing with the ecosystem leader Ethereum using the Primary Narrative in a respectful way that the founder would do.

Except for the Polkadot Fellows, not even Polkadot True Believers are even aware of what the founders themselves have invented in Polkadot 2.0: true scalability. True believers do not doubt that the invention is real: the execution of 1.0 itself was that powerful. Over the course of the next 2 years, as the essence of CoreTime/CorePlay/CoreJam are birthed, we may morph the narrative from


Branded Campaigns for the Primary Narrative

We wish to leave the precise execution of a branded campaign developed by a capable agency along the Primary Narrative, but believe it is critical to show humans explaining two different technology stacks in an accessible way. We wish to concretely show 3 campaign ideas relative to earlier attempts on this form like this or this. In case “brand marketing” is foreign to you, I recommend you check out this old gem from 1997, when Apple was worth 1000x times less than it is now:

Best marketing strategy ever! Steve Jobs Think different / Crazy ones speech (with real subtitles)

Campaign 1: Polkadot > Ethereum

Here is one of Apple’s best executed campaigns, “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC”:

I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC

It picks two actors that bear some similarity to nerdy Bill Gates and superhip Steve Jobs, with Apple unafraid to attack Microsoft’s worst features and stand out as superior.

We envision a brand marketing campaign led a curated ad agency unafraid to pick actors to do a similarly executed campaign. This could even using actors bearing some similarity to nerdy Vitalik and hip Gav and have Polkadot unafraid to attack Ethereum’s worst features and stand out as superior. The end goal is to have the Polkadot brand and technology as superior to Ethereum in the average person’s mind, who has no intention of understanding the tech whatsoever.

In no way, shape, or form is it necessary to explain or demonstrate any of the technology (the product and user experience in the “I’m an Mac and I’m a PC” are completely absent and instead represented by people that are fun to watch), but it may be helpful to allude to it (e.g. upgradability, data availability).

We do not reject developer marketing, but it is naive to think that it is impossible to have different messaging for the mass market and developers as if Polkadot can only focus on exactly one thing in a marketing campaign. Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc. are able to execute dual messaging on this effectively, and via OpenGov and DFP there are adequate resources to do so.

Campaign 2: Polkadot The Theater in a City of Theaters - Scalability Visualized

Founder Gavin Wood articulates a beautiful analogy here for Coreplay, containing a single theater, 6 stages, actors, plays, and an audience, superscaling to multiple theaters and couriers. This is a highly complex visualisation but with a capable agency, can be executed brilliantly. The word “Coreplay” is not important, but the fact that it scales and is fundamentally capable of perpetually expanding should be. The actors and the audience have to be seen to humanise the end user, with respect for the beauty of the theater(s) and stage and everything running like clockwork with actors waking and sleeping. The end goal is to admire the tech but really show scalability in visual form.

Campaign 3: Web3 is Bullshit: The end of blockchains, the beginning of the ubiquitous map-reduce computer.

Founder Gavin Wood says “I think chains are an old concept anyway with coreplay”. He cannot publicly say this because Polkadot 1.0’s primary product (and still is) … parachains. We believe it is possible to shed the concept of blockchains and adopt what many people like Tim-Berners Lee (Web 1.0) and Bill Gates believe: Web3 is bullshit. The fact that people think blockchains are scammy and Web3 is bullshit makes this transformation easy to love. Polkadot is ready to shed the original sin of Web3 and blockchain. No one really has to understand map-reduce, they just have to understand that there is some awesome thing that is being invented and our conviction is this:

  • Dropping the blockchain association will be net positive for the Polkadot brand.
  • Dropping the Web3 association will be net positive for the Polkadot brand.

We believe this transformation can grant Polkadot the respect and awareness it deserves.

Campaign 4: Polkadot the Green Field of Innovation

Due to the uncontrolled level of marketing hype from Polkadot’s #1 true competitor of Ethereum itself, many people in the Polkadot community have extremely low opinion of marketing itself, extending to an utter disdain of any kind of awareness building at all. For these people, I wish to remind them of one of the original brand marketing assets from 1.0 which inspired so many:

Behind the Code - Episode 1

It starts with the sentence from Founder @gavofyork:

Polkadot 1.0 designed on the green field, and Polkadot 2.0 generalizes it for builders to work on that green field in entirely new ways.

The following Think Different Ad appealed to both the people at Apple looking for leadership, the developers building on top of Apple, as well as Apple customers, who of course bought iPods and iPhones, iMacs, MacBooks in the following years, inspired by Apple’s Core Values.

I know that that some similarly vague campaign appealing to the greenfield can attract a new generation of builders who build on top of Polkadot and actually change the world we live in for the better.

Think Different! Share your Feedback

If you see genius in Polkadot 2.0, I hope you can share your thoughts of how can help make everyone aware of it in a 2024 Brand Marketing Campaign.

Your ideas posted here will be seen by the agencies engaged in an RFP process and inform their design.

If you have ideas for anything related to brand marketing, from new brand campaign ideas to narratives and sub-narratives, please share!


I like some of the ideas you’ve laid out here. To confirm, this would be a solely retail-focused campaign to differentiate from ETH and resonate to crytpo curious buyers, right? I think there is significant value in something along these lines but also, we need to ensure that we’re still speaking to the builders as I think the network effect is what has made ETH what it is today. There are traders/buys out there looking for investments but underpinning that are/were the great builders creating new and innovative protocols and launching tokens which drives value to ETH and creates the flywheel.

Hey @sourabhniyogi ! Love that you’re pushing the envelope and trying to hit the ground running with some campaign ideas. Have some comments and also some clarifying questions:

  • Why would Polkadot want to define itself by what it isn’t? How will that help educate the market? Why would anyone care?

A comparison to the “Mac vs PC” campaign is tough, since those terms were nearly ubiquitous at the time, while Polkadot and Ethereum are not. But I suppose that depends on who you’re targeting with this which leads me to…

  • Who are you thinking you’d target & how? I see the channels you’ve mentioned but I might have missed how you plan to use those channels to reach these core target audiences.
  • Who is it that we expect to care about this/be moved by ^this?

Re: “web3 is bullshit” and a few other campaign ideas, I think these could be interesting. But it’s not clear to me what the overarching narrative is here. Which leads me to my last question:

  • What is the overall strategy/over-arching takeway? What IS Polkadot and how do these campaigns help support that?

Would love to chat through some of my campaign ideas with you if you have time btw - think there could be collab opps here.

Hi @sourabhniyogi,

I’m just just a fellow (future) grant applicant and am excited by your thoughts. I think you’re adding some great ideas to this discussion about marketing and just wanted to add some additional brainstorm liquidity to what’s already sloshing about.

In regards to messaging for retail:

I am a long time fan of web3 tech but didn’t buy any DOT until spring of 2023. The research that I found that helped cement the decision were charts showing the energy expenditures between various Proof-Of-Stake and Proof-Of-Work systems. You know who had the best energy efficiency? Polkadot.

I’m not really in the loop the way some people on this forum might be and so maybe that chart was wrong or otherwise misleading and definitely do your own research to confirm what I’m saying, etc. etc…but, assuming it wasn’t wrong:

Maybe that’s another bullet point to consider adding to the “better than Ethereum” list, which is complicated because the current conversation surrounding “blockchains and the environment” is muddied by the general public’s lack of knowledge distinguishing different chains.

Not writing the following as a literal suggestion for marketing, per se, more of an example to be fed to further the brainstorm:

In the long game, if humanity collectively “chooses” a more efficient blockchain tech to build the future upon then it both frees up additional resources for (other) future needs and means that less energy production is needed to meet that base level of survival (cooling/heating, water filtration, water transport, food transport, etc…).

While there’s room to play with messaging there the raw story itself most likely would not be a helpful draw to (onboard) new retail investors, unless you manage to do something wild like create a product placement opportunity in some dystopian sci-fi show.

Like it’s a space-lawyer thriller and the protagonist uses on-chain data from a mining asteroid to reveal some crucial flaw in the villain’s plan, etc. etc. etc.

That said, and moving on,
with regards to the Ethereum campaign, I do have a question:

While I agree that the references to the Mac-PC campaign, and Tesla, make good points, attacking people or being hyper-aggressive towards a competitor could create problematic secondary branding concerns.

What plans might you have to counter, or prevent, possible branding blow-back?

Apologies if that’s me being rude but instead I hope this all feels supportive because I like the direction you’re going. Feel free to use these ideas and prompts or set them aside as my work is tangential but firmly in a different field. In terms of your chances with the grant I have no power but still I see you adding synergy to the larger conversations about marketing strategy and I appreciate it.

Thank you, and good luck!

I’m no marketing wiz, but “Polkadot Does What Ethereum Cannot” sounds like a significantly less-catchy version of @PRChatz’s #OnlyOnPolkadot mini-campaign on Twitter. I like the direction, but it’s quite a mouthful. “The Green Field of Innovation” also feels a bit cumbersome–it makes me think of the “blue ocean” business term, but with five extra syllables.

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Apologies but I think you have me confused with someone else.

I’m sorry if the miscommunication was my fault especially if it’s from when I said my work could be seen as tangential to Marketing: which is true to the extent that both could have the same stated goal of working to expand the user base but with the difference being that, as you referenced, good marketing often works to clarify, or tell, existing stories but my project’s vision is to (hopefully) instead create a new story to be told.

I appreciate the energy you are bringing to this conversation and thank you for the links you shared. I look forward to checking them out.

In regards to blowback I’d like to expand my feedback to add that I think the risk is high enough you might want to consider leaning more into the Mr. Rogers side of the marketing equilibrium.

While personality cult’s can drive sales (Mac-PC and Tesla, for example, again) I think, especially when looking at American politics in 2024, that there’s an increased chance of further trending cynicism amongst people fed up on the political attack-ad cycles who may also be turned off by a campaign that mirrors these aggressive strategies.

Kindness is king, or at least it should be, and I know it’s cliche but it’s also true that we should all treat people the way we want to be treated… and if that’s not a good foundation to lay for Polkadot’s brand (at least culturally speaking) as a positive way to stand out from the crowd, then I’m not sure what is.

Plus, I’ve casually seen quoted videos of Vitalik critiquing Ethereum layer 2 solutions as non-sustainable and even if those are misquoted or deepfakes, creating animosity within the general public towards him doesn’t actually help, especially if he is providing reasons why Polkadot is superior.

Speaking of possible tech that can disprove deepfakes: there may be ways to walk that middle ground, even with Ethereum comparisons, for example isn’t Invarch, built on Polkadot, deploying NFT-primitives that could later be used like Legos to build intellectual property and deepfake protection? Maybe I’m misreading the possibilities, I’m much more an artist than an engineer.

That said, you could craft narratives that make these strong comparisons, a la Mac-PC, without slinging mud, by talking up the unique positives, and real game changers, of what the Polkadot tech stacks are truly offering to the world.

Thanks for your thoughts and synergy, and time spent reading. Best of luck with your ideas!

Hey @sourabhniyogi ,

Glad to see a campaign proposal being shared, would love to see more of these!

In my personal opinion, the timing is not quiet right for this type of campaign. It would be a way more appealing proposition when 2.0 is closer to being implemented. I also do agree with some sentiment in the comments above that we are currently not on the same Awareness level as Mac vs PC (or Coke vs Pepsi) conversations for this to be a relevant angle to take.

With that said, I totally see your perspective. I have most definitely used these and other similar comparisons to describe it to “normies”.

This really isn’t my department these days but I appreciate a good brainstorming challenge so:

I’ll take a page from Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow which says, roughly, that good products sell themselves, and suggest a use-case which might also attract the “kindness” crowd.

As far as I know, no one else is already doing this, but I’m thinking: instead of scripting an actual Mr. Rodgers commercial use the money to build a staking dapp that stakes the user’s DOT for them on the relay chain but then gives control of claiming the rewards to withdraw or compound to a different wallet.

A use-case for this could be philanthropic or charitable giving to nonprofits and NGO’s.

For example, this would hypothetically allow me, as an economically middle-class person, to consider if I had set aside 50k for retirement and can’t give it away because I need it in 50 years, to instead have the option to buy DOT and then allow that local nonprofit to claim the rewards while allowing my retirement fund to still accrue value as the price of DOT (hopefully) grew.

I can literally already do this but the relative illiquidity of the process is solved with this hypothetical dapp.

Right now one way to do this, if the nonprofit doesn’t already accept crypto, would require me to take my withdrawn rewards, send them to CEX, take the time to withdraw, or wire, the money from CEX to bank account and then once the money is in my bank account use debit, or credit card, to make donation through local-nonprofits web2.0site.

It’s a leap to assume that same local nonprofit wants to set up a wallet and embark on crypto adventure but money is always needed in that sector and my guess nonprofit adoption would not be an issue; if my 50k hypothetically and roughly generated 10% in staking rewards for them that’s still be an extra $5,000 a year they wouldn’t otherwise see.

If that project got built, and it gets hyped along with other seasonal giving initiatives in the philanthropic sector, the Crypto Saves Christmas narrative literally just wrote itself.

So not only would the dapp onboard new charitably-minded users who are willing to invest their savings, and also can’t afford to give it away, it would also onboard institutional nonprofits and create cycles of evergreen hype.

(^This^ is an idea that emerged while dialoguing internally on my own upcoming grant application. Generally speaking, it is not even close to my grant idea and, if it really hasn’t been thought up or executed by anyone else, is up for grabs if any developers reading this that wants to run with it. Please consider me sharing this as a feature request to the Polkadot ecosystem at large…)

Beyond all THAT, definitely not my department, either, and way above my pay grade-but I remember reading in one of her bios that Tiffany Fong’s focus is on “crime and crypto” as a citizen journalist/influencer and with that in mind it might actually look like an attempt at corrupting a journalist if effort was made to bring her under the umbrella of the Polkadot Ambassadorship unless it was treated openly as a sort of journalistic audit of the Polkadot ecosystem, which is basically what you’re saying…

With that in mind the other Mr. Rogers hot take that’s also really awesome is the idea of consent being foundational to a healthy civil society (ok, I’m paraphrasing a bit with that one.) As far as my opinion goes and regards to “Polkadot” supporting Tiffany Fong’s work, it’s probably only best to cross that type of bridge if the most direct interested parties (i.e. Ms. Wong herself and Polkadot Ambassadors, respectively speaking) initiated, or expressed interest, in such a thing themselves.

And while journalistic access and transparency is really important, blockchain tech itself as immutable and public solves some of those problems by its very nature.

This comes back to Seth Godin and the fact that the tech is actually cool enough that transparency is written into the narrative.

Whether the general public (or American Congresspeoples) understand this is another matter, and the last few years of TV ads (like the coinbase ad you mentioned) don’t actually help clarify anyone’s understanding of how the tech could actually benefit humanity…

It would be interesting to continue exploring down that cerebral rabbit hole and:

I’m finding this conversation really interesting and thank you for reading, too, if you read this far, but
I’m polishing my grant application this month so not only am I out of time today but if I don’t reply further it’s only because of bandwidth.

Best of luck and look forward to seeing where this all goes!

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Appreciate the time and effort to put all of this together. The positioning statement feels a bit insecure or inferior with the direct comparisons to ETH, but it would be interesting if you replaced “Ethereum cannot” with the attributes that come to mind or that would be synonymous with Ethereum (if there are any). The risk by using a competitor’s name in the ad creative (aside from trademark and copyright concerns), is raising the awareness of the competitors brand over yours using your media budget.