Super Bowl

Contest-Winning Coffee Maker Readies for Jolt From Super Bowl Ad

NEW YORK -- A coffee with an edgy name and made by a small business is getting a commercial in Super Bowl 50.

Death Wish Coffee Co. won a competition held by software maker Intuit for a 30-second spot during the third quarter of the big game on Feb. 7. The Round Lake, New York, company beat more than 15,000 other small businesses in voting by the public and Intuit employees.

Image: Death Wish Coffee Company
Founder Mike Brown, left, and employees of Death Wish Coffee Co. in Round Lake, New York.

Death Wish was founded in 2012 by Mike Brown, who owns a coffee house in Saratoga Springs, New York, and wanted to find a strong, highly-caffeinated brew. Packaged in a black bag with a skull and bones label, the coffee, a blend that Brown created, is sold in a handful of stores and online. Death Wish currently sells about 1,000 pounds a day, a number expected to increase considerably after the Super Bowl spot runs.

Brown recently hired two employees to prepare for the anticipated jump in business, giving him a staff of 12.

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"If even half a percent of the people who watch the commercial decide to buy a bag and give it a try, and 90 percent of them recommend it to others, we could have some amazing growth in the future," he said.

The commercial shows a Viking galley ship in stormy waters with the crew exhorted to keep rowing; the ship and the sea end up in a cup of Death Wish coffee downed by a man in his 21st-century kitchen.

Super Bowl commercials are usually bought by high-profile brands like Chevrolet, Doritos and Budweiser. Some spots have been used to showcase younger but fast-growing companies, most notably Apple, whose 1984 commercial creating buzz about its Macintosh computer is seen as the gold standard of Super Bowl ads.

But with a spot costing $5 million for air time alone, the game is far beyond the advertising budget of most small businesses.

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Death Wish is the second company that Intuit has bought an ad for. In 2014, it paid for a spot for GoldieBlox, a toy for girls, after holding a similar competition.

The Super Bowl is the most-watched event in the U.S. Last year's game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks had an audience of over 114 million people. The ads get almost as much attention as the game itself. Viewers post comments on social media during the game, and the commercials are a topic of conversation the day after.