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Death Wish coffee wins a Super Bowl commercial


Michael Brown, owner of Death Wish Coffee Co. in Round Lake, N.Y., won the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Big Game contest. Grand prize: a 30-second spot during the third quarter of the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. (AP)

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.
Death Wish was founded in 2012 by Mike Brown, who owns a coffee house in Saratoga Springs 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 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 a jump in business, giving him a staff of 12.
"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 flow visually into a stream of Death Wish coffee being 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.
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 more than 114 million people. The ads get almost as much attention as the game itself. Viewers post comments on social media during the game. The commercials are a topic of conversation the day after and the subject of Monday morning quarterbacking by advertising agencies.