Content Marketing

Inside Branded Content: Intuit’s Small Business Big Game Campaign

Twice a month, we want to talk to brands telling great stories to find out how they did it. First up this month: Intuit’s Small Business Big Game campaign.

The past few weeks, the marketing world has been buzzing about GoldieBlox, a Kickstarter-funded company that became a household name after their branded video went viral, racking up 9 million views and sparking a copyright battle with the Beastie Boys over their use of the song “Girls.”

GoldieBlox, which makes toys that inspire girls to become engineers, ultimately had to take the song down, but they may not be out of the news for long. What many didn’t realize during the entire saga is that GoldieBlox is part of an innovative marketing campaign that may get them an even higher-profile ad in television’s biggest event: The Super Bowl.

The Intuit Small Business Big Game campaign is giving small businesses like GoldieBlox — a finalist — the chance to win a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl in February.

“Small businesses are the unsung heroes of the economy, of this country, and are doing so many amazing things,” said Heather McLellan, Director of Communications at Intuit’s Small Business Division. “What we wanted to do is shine a light on them. We want to put them on a world stage and celebrate their success in a way that’s never been done before.”

The idea for the program grew out of Intuit’s internal “Design For Delight” process, which brought together a team of marketing, advertising, and public relations representatives to brainstorm a way to put the spotlight on small businesses, as well as the Quickbooks brand. They landed on the idea of letting small businesses compete for a Super Bowl ad and lined up former “Apprentice” star Bill Rancic to act as a spokesperson and coach.

But for the core of the program, Intuit decided to let the small businesses speak for themselves — by creating videos and other content that explain their backgrounds, missions, products, and goals. Over fifteen thousand stepped up to the plate, creating compelling content on the campaign’s behalf.

“They all have a story and they’re all very passionate,” McLellan noted. “Let’s let them share their story, let’s let them take the passion that drives them every single day and share it with the world. We felt that they could do that better than we could. So, we created some very simple tasks for them. The first thing was; just tell us a little bit about your business.”


Barley Labs, one of the contest’s finalists.

During the 3-month-long competition, small businesses have rallied their social networks to vote to advance them to the next level. Now, four finalists remain, the voting is over, and Intuit will soon announce who won the coveted Super Bowl spot. The social aspect of the campaign was built in from the start, McLellan explained.

For brand publishers looking to launch a similar program, there’s no better proof that user-generated content can hit big than GoldieBlox. Though the “Girls” parody ad, seen below, was created outside the competition, it shows that unique, smart content can drive social sharing, publicity, and consumer interest.

“The content really is the centerpoint of this campaign. When you’re working with small business owners, it’s easy — there’s such a great story to tell there. It makes the task of sharing their content easier,” she said.

Though only one small business wins the competition, McLellan says Intuit wanted the program’s concept to be “everybody wins.” To that effect, Intuit is giving out $25 million in prizes and products. Every small business that entered received a playbook with tips and tricks. They also got special offers on the new Quickbooks Online, and some won giveaways like $1,000 grants.

Already, the program has had a positive effect on the businesses. “They’re getting more orders, things that they’ve always wanted to do — like expand outside of one state — now, they’ve been able to expand outside to six states,” McLellan said. And thanks to their experience with the contest, they became more adept at creating content, too.

Intuit has seemed to have found a sweet spot as well.

“This isn’t the end of us helping small businesses in this way,” McLellan said. “So we will certainly be doing something to continue on the momentum. Stay tuned!”

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