Startup bets on Super Bowl

Local entrepreneurs hope pricey 15-second ad draws viewers to new Web site

Artist Andy Warhol once suggested that everyone will experience 15 minutes of fame.

a pair of Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs hope 15 seconds is all they’ll
need to introduce a new product to 1.5 million potential customers.


Local entrepreneurs Darren
Rose (left) and Jonathan Schaefer of, at their
Independence, Ohio, office on Jan. 30, 2008, are sinking a large part
of their annual marketing budget into a commercial that will air in
Northeast Ohio during the Super Bowl. (Lew Stamp/Akron Beacon Journal)

Jonathan Schaefer and Darren Rose are sinking a large part
of their annual marketing budget into a commercial that will air during
Super Bowl XLII on Sunday.


They’ll have just 15 seconds to explain, a
Web site that allows users to search out and print coupons for vendors
throughout Northeast Ohio while earning points toward free gas cards.

”We wanted to make a big splash, and what better way than to do a Super Bowl commercial,” said Schaefer.
will have one of 17 local slots, airing between the national ads. The
commercial is slated to run right before the second-half kickoff.

Schaefer, who said the spot cost ”well into five figures,”
said it was challenging to say what needed to be said in 15 seconds.

He and Rose toyed with a lot of ideas, motivated by some
pressure to rise to the high creative standard for which Super Bowl
commercials are famous.

After all, it’s the only television event where many viewers tune in to specifically watch the ads.

the end, the pair settled on an animation of their butler mascot with a
voice-over that repeats their promotional tagline: ”Heyyyyyy Butler!”


Local entrepreneurs Darren
Rose and Jonathan Schaefer of, based in Independence,
Ohio, are sinking a large part of their annual marketing budget into a
commercial that will air in Northeast Ohio during the Super Bowl. The
Web site allows people to search for coupons for businesses throughout
northeast Ohio. (Lew Stamp/Akron Beacon Journal)

”It’s so important we brand ourselves the way we want to be
branded,” Rose said. ”We tried not to get caught up (in the idea of
this being) a Super Bowl commercial.”

Schaefer said much is at
stake. After all, their
customers are the vendors who pay to be part of the site,
and a successful Super Bowl commercial should indirectly benefit them.

The Independence-based company launched its Web site on Jan.
1 and has 30 full-time employees who are working to sign up vendors and

People who sign up for free memberships can search a
database of vendors (about 500 to date) using ZIP codes and/or subject
matter. Members earn points for printing coupons, and those points
accumulate to earn free gas cards.

”To spend the money we’re spending on 15 seconds is almost
insane,” Rose said, ”but to reach that 1.5 million people at the same
time is worth it.”

Marketing professor Tim Calkins said the Super Bowl is a good gamble for entrepreneurs and new products.

and other faculty at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern
University annually review the national Super Bowl commercials, which
will sell for an unprecedented $2.7 million for a 30-second spot that
could reach nearly 142 million viewers.

Local commercial slots — ads that play in a limited region
— are also ”a wonderful opportunity to build awareness on a brand
really quickly,” Calkins said, ”especially for a new product.”

But the challenge is making the most of that brief time.

hard to communicate everything you need to say in 15 seconds,” he
said. ”The keys are: Does it get your attention, is it well-branded,
and is there a benefit” to the consumer.

And while Hollywood might believe the axiom that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the same can’t be said for commercials.

don’t want to run a bad spot during the Super Bowl,” Calkins said.
”It’s a wonderful venue, but you can certainly waste your money if it
doesn’t stand out.”


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