By Barry Janoff
August 5, 2013: The first preseason game of the 2013 NFL campaign is in the books — the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Sunday — which means that the floodgates have officially opened for Super Bowl marketing.
Jimmy Johnson, who led the Cowboys to victories in Super Bowl XXXVII and Super Bowl XXXVIII, is the spokesperson for software maker Intuit's "Small Business/Big Game" campaign, which aims to give one company a 30-second spot on Fox during Super Bowl XLVIII, to be played on Feb. 2, 2014 in MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ).
Although it works with small businesses, Intuit itself had more than $4.1 billion in revenue last year via such products as Quicken and Turbo Tax.
During Super Bowl XLVII on CBS, 30-second spots averaged $3.7 million and some went for as much as $4 million, according to the network. The game itself was seen by more than 108.4 million viewers, per CBS.
Intuit did not say how much the "Small Business/Big Game" campaign would cost.
The campaign with Johnson is anchored by a TV spot the explains the details. Lead agency is RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., which will work with the winning small business to create and produce the spot for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Among others, RPA created the Honda "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" spoof spot with Matthew Broderick that aired during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
Intuit does have one major drawback: The company is not an official marketing partner of the NFL and is not allowed to use the term "Super Bowl" or any of the logos associated with the league or the game itself.
The multi-step process, according to Intuit, begins with reps from small businesses (defined here as having 50 or fewer full-time employees) going to a micro-site at Intuit.com, signing up and telling their stories. Voting will be open to the public, with the 50,000 small businesses that receive the most votes advancing to the next round. (People can vote for each business only once per day, but there is no limit to the number of businesses they can vote on each day.)
Intuit, based in Mountain View, Calif., and founded in 1983, said it would then have its own employees whittle the 50,000 down to 20. Intuit employees would next select a final four. Voting then returns to the public to determine which small business of the four will ultimately get a its 30-seconds of Super Bowl fame.
The early submissions range from Kiddie Science and PRK Automotive to WhirlieGirl Photography ("specializing in boudoir pictures"). (See full details here.)
In the TV spot, "Fired Up For The Big Game," Johnson is eating in a real Asian restaurant called Komodo, which is located in Los Angeles. He is so inspired by the food that he gathers the employees around to tell them about the Intuit promotion.
"I have something to say to the entire Komodo team," Johnson proclaims to the owner after several bites of lunch. When the small group of actual emplloyees join him in the kitchen, he tells them about the Intuit Super Bowl opportunity.
"Let me begin by saying that I'm proud of you," says Johnson. "This is a phenomena. Every man, woman and child with a tongue and a mouth deserves to know about you. I'm talking about the Intuit Small Business/Big Game program."
When he gets no response from the employees, Johnson ramps up the energy on his pep talk.
"What's that? you ask. That's when one small business wins their very own commercial on the 2014 Big Game," he exclaims, pointing to one of the huge Super Bowl rings he wears. Now the Komodo employees are into Intuit's offer.
"Picture this," Johnson continues. "It's that magic Sunday in February. It's the third quarter. The score is tied. then they go to a commercial. They show an ad from a beer company featuring those freakishly large horses. And then, what will over 100 million people see? The first-ever small business commercial on the Big Game.
"Who's with me!!!" yells Johnson as he pumps his fists into the air. Everyone is on board, and they life him up as if they had just won the Super Bowl. (See the full spot here.)
The campaign comes with the tag line, "Big business no longer owns the big game. You do."
Intuit said that every company that enters will receive a copy of the Intuit Small Business Playbook and a "great offer" on Intuit QuickBooks.
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