Super Bowl

'Anatomy of an Ad': Death Wish Gets Its Wish

Part One: How a Tiny Coffee Company Got a Commercial in Super Bowl

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More than 15,000 small businesses competed during Intuit QuickBooks' grueling nine-month "Small Business Big Game" contest to win a Super Bowl ad.

The winner, Mike Brown, is owner of Albany N.Y.-based Death Wish Coffee, which generated just $6 million in total revenue last year. That's not much more than the $5 million reported cost of a 30-second spot in this year's Super Bowl.

"It would take us 20 years to buy an ad in any Super Bowl," Mr. Brown said. "I have no idea what this is going to do to our business, but we've been preparing for a lot of growth."

Intuit's creative agency, RPA, ran three ideas by Mr. Brown, who settled on the most difficult and expensive: a Viking-themed epic made to look like a cinematic trailer.

Intuit spared no expense on the production, enlisting an up-and-coming director in Isaiah Seret, Oscar-winning director of photography Claudio Miranda, and employed the top-notch visual effects company MPC, which has worked on the likes of "The Martian," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Harry Potter," to handle its CGI work.

A snippet of the commercial was previewed today on "CBS This Morning." Ad Age was along for the making of the spot, which entailed building a 40-foot Viking ship and assembling a massive mechanical gimble. There were high-powered water canons, hurricane-strength fans and a cast of 25 Nordic-looking Vikings in authentic costumes.

And the team had only two days to shoot the entire thing.

Is the Super Bowl worth it? We're about to find out. Watch for updates in our three-part series.

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