Intuit chooses finalists for Super Bowl ad contest

NEW YORK — Small businesses that produce dog treats, toys, eggs and compost are vying for a chance to have a commercial during the Super Bowl.

@Breakout text first-line indent:The four companies are finalists in a competition held by software maker Intuit, which will pay millions of dollars to give the winner a 30-second spot in the game Feb. 2. They were selected by Intuit’s 8,000 employees. The winner will be chosen in a vote open to anyone who visits the competition website: www.smallbusinessbiggame.com through Dec. 1.

The finalists are Barley Labs, of Durham, N.C., which makes dog treats out of barley; GoldieBlox, based in Oakland, Calif., maker of engineering toys aimed at girls; Locally Laid Egg Co., a Duluth, Minn., egg producer and POOP — Natural Dairy Compost, a Nampa, Idaho, fertilizer maker.

All four businesses are young. Dairy Poop was founded this year, while the others were launched in 2012.

Barley labs makes treats from grain left over from beer brewing, while POOP uses cattle manure to manufacture fertilizer. GoldieBlox’s products are blocks and other toys that teach girls about engineering and construction. And Locally Laid Egg produces eggs from hens that live in pastures rather than in coops.

Nearly 15,000 small businesses entered the contest during the summer. Intuit employees voted for the 20 best, and that field was winnowed down to four. The make the final four, a small business had to prove that it could handle the bump up in business that a Super Bowl ad could give it.

Super Bowl ads are usually run by huge companies and brands like Budweiser and Chevrolet, not small businesses. Intuit has never had an ad of its own. But some famous ads have been run by companies that were not yet giants, including Apple Inc., which ran an ad in 1984 that raised the public’s awareness about the impending launch of the Macintosh.

The ads give a company of any size great visibility; more than 100 million people are expected to watch the game.

The advertising agency RPA, which has created Super Bowl ads in the past, will create the spot. It is creating ads for all four finalists, but only one will be seen on the Super Bowl. The others will be shown at other times.

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