Intuit announced that Death Wish Coffee Company, a small business coffee roaster, won the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Big Game contest, which awards one company a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl Feb. 7.

Death Wish Coffee Company was established in 2012 by Michael Brown, a former government accountant who once headed the revenue refund unit for New York State, after registering customer demand for stronger coffee. Death Wish Coffee now roasts and packs what it refers to as some of the world’s strongest coffee.

As winners of the QuickBooks contest, the company worked with agency RPA to convey this differentiator in a commercial depicting “an epic, over-the-top Vikings ship that shows off the strength of our coffee,” Brown said.

Round Lake, N.Y.-based Death Wish Coffee was chosen by public vote from more than 15,000 entries that collectively garnered hundreds of thousands of votes. In addition to the commercial airing during the third quarter of Super Bowl 50, Death Wish won a free, lifetime use of QuickBooks Enterprise.

“America ultimately chose [the winner] because it’s a story they related to,” said Bill Rancic, entrepreneur and spokesperson for the campaign. “Mike encompasses what the American entrepreneur is all about. He put his life savings on the line, moved back in with his mom, proving the American dream is still alive. And it’s a catchy, high-quality product that really jumps off the page at you.”

Relying on public exposure to win the contest required Brown and his 11-person team to step up their already strong social media efforts, he said. “We had a decent social following, but it took us outside our comfort zone and focused the team’s effort on building a stronger social component,” which included tapping into influencers who could amplify the company’s message.

Brown chased his entrepreneurial dream down the path from government accountant to small business owner, relying on the experiences of others to guide him as he rapidly amassed his own.

“I made mistakes early and listened to other small business owner recommendations. You should find someone who is already an expert in the field who will help others out, and use that network. You have to tap into that knowledge bank and learn from others.”

A panel of Intuit judges selected the top 10 finalists of Small Business Big Game in September, chosen from more than 15,000 contenders that applied via Intuit’s Own It: A Small Business Network networking app. Two runners-up, Chubbies Shorts and Vidler’s 5 & 10, received $25,000 and local media and advertising valued at up to $15,000. The seven other finalists received a $10,000 prize and a congratulatory ad in their local paper. The accountants of all 10 finalists received $10,000 and local advertising.

This is the second year QuickBooks has posted the program, won in its inaugural year by Oakland, Calif.-based company GoldieBlox in 2014. 

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