Super Bowl 50 — Part 5: Impact of a Super Bowl Ad

Death Wish Coffee – 400% Increase in Sales 

deathwishcoffeeIn the four weeks since the Big Game, we know a lot more about the ripple effects of Super Bowl advertising.  Death Wish Coffee is an 11 employee company that won a Super Bowl commercial as a result of a promotion sponsored by Intuit.  Let’s take a deeper look into their experience.

As the winner of the Intuit sweepstakes, Death Wish Coffee was awarded:

  • 30-second Super Bowl spot ($4.6 M)
  • Production cost of a 30-second commercial ($1M+)

Mike Brown, owner of Death Wish Coffee, was presented three concepts for the commercial.  He chose the most difficult and expensive option.deathwidth-mikebrown The two-day shoot involved a 40-foot Viking ship on a massive mechanical gimble (simulates waves rocking the ship), high-powered water cannons, hurricane-strength fans and a cast of 25 Vikings in authentic costumes and real facial hair.

As with many new ideas, the seed of genius often starts out lighthearted. Customers would come into Brown’s Café in Saratoga Springs asking for the strongest cup of coffee offered. He decided to create one that was designed to be highly caffeinated. Along the way, he created a unique brand and sells it online.

Death Wish Coffee is definitely a roaster on the upswing selling “The World’s Strongest Coffee.” Take a quick look at the annual revenue summary:

2014 $3M
2015 $6M
2016 $10M projected without SB advertising
2016 Unknown with SB advertising


When the moment of truth arrived, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Could the company handle the expected traffic from a Big Game ad?” The Super Bowl has been known to crash websites in an instant. Mike Brown turned to Kane Grogan, Death Wish’s Customer Service Manager, and said, “It’s you’re A$$ if the website crashes.” The good news is….it didn’t!

The resting count of visitors on Death Wish’s website before the Super Bowl commercial was 500. After the commercial aired, that number soared to 147,000 with the vast majority connecting via mobile devices, creating a 400% spike in sales over the next several days.

Mike Brown summarizes the experience by saying, “I came back from San Francisco to a whole new business.”

Marketing Lessons Learned

  1. Make a strong, legitimate claim that separates you from the competition (World’s Strongest Coffee)
  2. Create a memorable brand – You gotta love coffee swilling Vikings with skulls and bones
  3. Collaborate to expand – Sure, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a Super Bowl commercial, but the lesson is about collaborating with other businesses on how you can create a Win-Win relationship by sharing resources, customer lists, or brain trust. Kudos to Intuit.
  4. Leverage opportunity – Due to Super Bowl notoriety, Death Wish now has a substantial market buzz making it much more attractive to retailers like Whole Foods and Target.

Death Wish Coffee — Storm’s a-Brewin’

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