A behind-the-scenes look at one firm's work
The Super Bowl may have come and gone, but people will be talking about the commercials broadcast during the Broncos win over the Panthers for days.
To find out the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a Super Bowl ad, Fortune spoke with Intuit’s senior vice president of marketing, Ken Wach, and Joe Baratelli, the chief creative officer of advertising agency RPA which produced a spot for the tech giant’s second “Small Business, Big Game” contest.
The winner, Death Wish Coffee, boasts selling the world’s strongest coffee and received a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl this year. To claim the top prize, the New York-based company beat out thousands of other entrants, as Fortune reported.
Once the finalists for the contest were narrowed down, only a few weeks remained before the Super Bowl’s kick off, meaning Intuit and RPA needed to act quickly to ensure the ad came to life in time for the Big Game. “We do concepting on the top three or four potential winners because we don’t know who is going to win until the votes are counted,” Wach said, “so it’s very challenging for all of us, including the agency, because they’ve got to scramble a little bit.”
For RPA, the role means researching the potential winners to produce an ad that screams authenticity for the small businesses’ brand. It helps that there’s a plethora of information out there from the entrepreneurs while they compete to garner votes, as can be read on the business’ contest entry page.
“It is interesting in that we’ve got to do our homework on who could possibly be the winners,” Baratelli said. “We are fortunate [that Death Wish Coffee won] because they really gave us something that fits into the environment of the Super Bowl.”
“What we try to do as an agency for all of our clients, especially small businesses, is get to the core of what they are and make sure we are representing their personality in the right way,” he continued.
“It’s really about getting to know them and what their vision of their company is,” Wach added. “When we talk to [the business], we usually have some ideas in hand of what we think might work.”
Baratelli added that the agency visited the small business and spent a day with the employees in order to observe how it operates. That, in turn, helped inform the ad. “Our teams go out and spend some quality time with them,” he said.
The ad—dubbed “Storm’s a-Brewin'”—features a stormy sky as a Viking-type ship sails through what appears to be a churning ocean. Turns out, the ocean is actually made of Death Wish Coffee. The spot ends as a man drinks the brew—Vikings and all.
Check out the completed ad for Death Wish Coffee, which ran during the Super Bowl’s third quarter, here:
“We are the champions of small business, and this program really is a personification of that,” Wach explained. “What better way to fuel the success of a small business than to give them a Superbowl ad?”
“You are doing something for them that would never be possible in all of their wildest dreams,” he continued.
Super Bowl ads this year were estimated to each cost $5 million to broadcast, as Fortune previously reported.
For more on the Super Bowl, Fortune took a look many of the trends about the game over the years, including gambling, television ratings, and where it’s been hosted.