Super Bowl XLVIII 2014 advertisements are already generating a lot of buzz in social media and advertising industry media, with more to come during and after this weekend’s game. My pre-game wager for the ad that will have the most impact goes on Intuit. Rather than using millions of dollars to communicate about Intuit, the strategically smart software publisher of QuickBooks and TurboTax is using its investment to help its small business customers. Intuit demonstrates co: collective’s storydoing (versus storytelling) at its best. (Read my earlier review of Ty Montague’s True Story book and storydoing as a strategy.)
Intuit ran a contest inviting small businesses to tell their story and get their fan base to vote for them. Businesses were then asked to demonstrate they could handle the bump up in traffic from winning. Twenty companies (out of thousands) made it to the next round in which 8,000 Intuit employees narrowed the finalists to four.
The four finalists — three founded in 2013, one in 2012 — are:
- GoldieBlox, based in Oakland, Calif., makes construction toys aimed at girls to encourage their interest in engineering and building. In the words of its founder, “We don’t have a shortage of princesses, but we do of engineers.”
- Locally Laid Egg Co., a Duluth, Minn., produces eggs from 2,500 hens that forge on and live in pastures, not pens, and eat non-GMO corn. As the company’s tagline promises, “Local chicks are better.”
- Barley Labs, of Durham, N.C., manufactures all natural dog-treats out of spent barley grain from beer production. Why shouldn’t your dog enjoy beer barley blended with organic cheese and other tasty treats?
- POOP — Natural Dairy Compost out of Nampa, Idaho provides non-smelly fertilizer from cow manure. Their product lets you “poop your plants.”
There are many reasons to love the Intuit campaign.
- The campaign makes Intuit’s brand far more authentic. Rather than just saying Intuit cares about small business, they are actually doing something for their target — far beyond selling software that simplifies small business financial management.
- The contest brings energy to Intuit’s brand – something fresh, fun, and worthy of Tweets, Facebook posts, etc.
- Like the Caterpillar ad reinforcing the great work of tradesmen, this campaign invites us all in to celebrate a pillar of America – the small businessperson. In so doing, Intuit is therefore helping all small businesses. I encourage you to look at the inspiring videos of the top 20 (or at least top 4) to feel the power and joy of small business in our world. If you don’t laugh or feel excited for these small businesses, you are likely working more than is good for your well-being.
- In the midst of mega-billions of advertising spent at the SuperBowl, Intuit’s spot will truly stand above the rest because of its intention. (Unfortunately the Wall Street Journal’s review of Super Bowl advertisers’ pre-game efforts failed to mention Intuit. So much for the WSJ understanding branding!)
- Every business that entered derived some value from the contest by having to meet the challenges of telling their story, engaging their fans, and thinking through the implications of increased demand.
As our economy gets increasingly commoditized, customers will seek companies that have the authority to earn their purchase. Being true to your purpose – demonstrated in aligning every action with your business’ deeper purpose – builds that authority.
All four finalists have already won a lot to advance their business success. In addition to enhanced website presence as finalists, they each receive an ad produced by Super Bowl advertising veteran agency RPA. While only the winner’s ad will appear on the Super Bowl spot, the three other finalists will have their ads aired on national TV in a different time slot. And, we all win by observing how Intuit wisely elected to spend its marketing budget.
What are you doing to “do” versus “tell” your story?