Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Intuit, the software firm behind QuickBooks, recently launched a contest for small businesses to compete for the opportunity to run a commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII. The wide-ranging entries include an entrepreneur who creates artisanal hypnotic illusions, a Portland, Or.-based group that strives to save the planet with soup, and the marijuana legalization advocacy group NORML.
Quite predictably, NORML's candidacy attracted national publicity for the contest (replete with every horrible weed pun you can possibly imagine) and swiftly became its most popular entry. But don't let that fool you into believing that it will actually get Super Bowl airtime--there's still plenty of red tape left to cut through.
An Intuit spokeswoman said in a statement that the next round of the contest, which starts Sept. 25, will ask entrants to complete unspecified activities, after which a panel of judges will pick 20 finalists based on "how passionate, authentic, entertaining and appropriate to the brand the business is." Both votes and "proof of financial stability" will be considered as well, she said.
The Top 20 finalists must meet certain eligibility requirements, she said, "which include being an active, lawful small business with fewer than 50 full-time employees." All potential ads must also meet broadcast acceptability standards, she said.
If Intuit really wanted to maximize publicity for itself, it would rule that NORML qualifies as a small business under its standards, declare it the winner, and force FOX to make the decision about whether marijuana advocacy violates its decency standards.