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Companies spent up to $4 million in 2013 for a 30-second Super Bowl ad. Although the game provides the most visible ad space in the world — 108.4 million people tune in for the commercial breaks — purchasing a spot is a very strategic move.
Intuit, a company that provides tax preparation software and services to small businesses, is spending millions on its very first Super Bowl ad for the 2014 game. The twist is, the half-minute spot is for a one of its customers.
"We wanted to do a series of firsts," CEO Brad Smith told Business Insider. "It's the first time a company will buy a customer an ad, and it's the first time a small business will be showcased among all those big national brands."
As part of the Intuit Small Business Big Game competition, small businesses have until September 22 to write a 600-word explanation of why they deserve the spot. The public will vote for the top 20 and then Intuit's 8,000 employees will narrow it down to the top four. The winner will be announced December 1 and then start shooting with ad agency RPA, which made the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" reprise for Honda in 2012.
"The companies will range from mowing lawns and cleaning houses to technology companies," Smith said. "At the end of the day, the thing that sells best is authenticity."
Smith says that although the most visible prize in the competition is the ad, Intuit is providing $25 million in total value. There are many perks involved in signing up for the competition (like Google Adwords discounts), and the final four will get free business consultations and advice from business experts, including entrepreneur and "Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic.
Since the campaign focuses on small businesses, Intuit won't only be using social media usual suspects Twitter and Facebook to promote the campaign. It will also use LinkedIn to spread the word.
"We've done a couple programs with LinkedIn before," Smith said. Hired Smart, for example, helps small businesses make good decisions when hiring their first employees.
Even though Intuit's name will only appear at the end of the ad, the endeavor will certainly raise the company's public profile.
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