A Small Coffee Company Just Won a Free Commercial at This Year's Super Bowl

Death Wish Coffee Company succeeds GoldieBlox as the second winner of Intuit's 'Small Business Big Game' contest.

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By Geoff Weiss • Jan 1, 2016 Originally published Jan 1, 2016


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Death Wish Coffee Company just hit the entrepreneurial jackpot.

The 11-person, four-year-old startup out of New York that purports to make the world's strongest coffee using organic beans, has won an all-expenses-paid, 30-second commercial set to air during the third quarter of the Super Bowl next month, courtesy of software giant Intuit. (This is the second time that Intuit has hosted its "Small Business Big Game" contest. Interactive toymaker GoldieBlox took home the same prize in 2014, becoming the first small business to ever run a Super Bowl ad.)

"I cried," Death Wish founder Mike Brown told Entrepreneur of his reaction last November when Intuit shared that millions of voters had chosen his company as the winner. "It was just pure joy -- it was like a dream come true. The journey and all the work that my team put into it became a force that really brought us together. It's almost like a sports team winning a championship."

Brown said that simply participating in the sweepstakes -- in which 15,000 small-business owners competed in various activities over the course of six months, such as making videos, taking pictures and answering different questions about their businesses -- propelled sales at Death Wish and also invigorated its social reach. Last year, Death Wish did $6 million in sales, which Brown partly attributes to attention garnered by the contest, and the company gained roughly 25,000 followers on Facebook.

Related: The 10 Most Talked-About Super Bowl Commercials of 2015

These numbers are likely to grow after an estimated 100 million people see the company's Super Bowl spot on Feb. 7. The ad, which likens the "fierce" caffeine jolt of Death Wish to a troupe of Vikings sailing through an epic storm, can be viewed right here:

A panel of Intuit judges determined the top 10 finalists in September, when the company presented Death Wish with three potential commercial pitches, Brown says. One featured Vikings, and when Brown dreamt that night that he was on a Viking ship sailing across perilous seas, it promptly sealed the deal. "It was more out of left field and I felt like it would stand out," he says of the spot.

Runners-up included shorts retailer Chubbies Shorts and Vidler's 5 and 10, an 85-year-old five-and-dime store.

Looking ahead to the Big Game and beyond, Brown says Death Wish's mission has been supercharged. After he founded the company in 2012, Death Wish has gone on to become Amazon's top-rated coffee at the moment, according to Brown.

In addition to new brews and marketing channels, he says, the brand could possibly hit Target or Whole Foods shelves in the future.

"We're ramping up on all aspects of the business," Brown says, "to take it to the next level."

Related: The Budweiser Clydesdales Have Some Ad Competition From a Girl Inventor Named Goldie

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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