One lucky small business will be getting a shot in the arm worth as much as $3 million in cash, and perhaps much more in impact, in February courtesy of Intuit. The Mountain View, Calif., financial software firm will bankroll a 30-second Super Bowl ad for a small business.
Catherine Clifford of Entrepreneur magazine reported Aug. 1 that Intuit will choose the small business worthy of such a big stage through a contest. The winner of its “Small Business Big Game” competition will also have Intuit’s financial backing for production and filming costs. The ad will appear in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, scheduled for Feb. 2, 2014.
“The ad will be all about the small business, about their story, about their passion,” Intuit spokeswoman Heather McLellan told Clifford. McLellan said Intuit would probably throw in a tease of the coming ad.
Clifford writes that Intuit did not disclose the amount it was paying to Fox Network for the ad, but McLellan said the total cost of the contest would be about $25 million.
Small-businesses can enter the contest at The deadline is Sept. 22.  The competition is limited to U.S. enterprises of 50 full-time employees or fewer. The business does not have to be an Intuit customer to enter. Entry in the contest could be the hard part. Clifford writes that the initial application can contain no more than 600 characters. The entrants then must get people to vote for them on social media. The field will then be cut to the 50,000 companies receiving the highest number of votes. In the second round, the 50,000 survivors must submit video and text or photo submissions answering questions about their companies.
Social media voting and an Intuit review board will eventually narrow the field to 20 businesses. Intuit employees around the world will then vote on the final four, to be selected by November. Each of the last four businesses standing will win a national TV ad. A public vote will then determine which of the ads airs during the Super Bowl.
The final four businesses will receive advertising agency production services for their ad, with Intuit covering the costs. Said celebrity businessman and contest spokesman Bill Rancic, “It is going to be a commercial that is on the same plane as a GM or a Volkswagen or an Anheuser Busch, so when you watch it, it is not going to look like a cable-access show. It’s going to rival some of the other ads that you are going to see during the game.
Clifford, Catherine. “Intuit to Give One Small Business a Free Super Bowl Ad“; 8/1/13.