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Deathwish Coffee’s Thirty-Second Spot: Short Ads Still Pack Punch

May 25th, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler   ||    No Comments

In a world where advertisers have more options at their fingertips than ever before, classic standbys may be doubted. Does the thirty-second spot still work? Is it worth advertisers’ time when there are so many other options to spend their budgets on? Super Bowl breakout Deathwish Coffee showcased the power of good television advertising and the importance of an integrated approach, proving the thirty-second spot is far from dead.

Rooted in Social Media

Intuit’s contest collected over 15,000 entrants, which were narrowed down to ten finalists. Deathwish Coffee won the voting contest, beating the other finalists with help from social media. According to Re/Code, the coffee company benefited from well-placed celebrity reviews that drove voting traffic, including endorsements from Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers reality stars and a YouTube review from baseball player Hunter Pence.

By aligning their brand with the right names, such as truckers who depend on hot coffee to keep them alert, Deathwish Coffee was able to create buzz among their social media audiences that translated into votes, press, and anticipation of the ad.

Quality Creative

Deathwish Coffee’s ad depended on more than just buzz: It needed to deliver what audiences have come to expect from Super Bowl ads. The thirty-second spot aimed to be cinematic. The ad’s costume designer, in an Ad Age behind-the-scenes series, said the goal was to feel as if “This is not a commercial, this is a scene out of a movie that happens to be a commercial.”

Creative was carefully based on Deathwish’s brand, with the coffee’s intensity personified by a cast of Vikings ready for a dramatic death to gain entrance to Valhalla. The thirty-second spot needed to be memorable, true to the brand’s identity and appeal to its core audience: people looking for really strong coffee.


The effort paid off: According to CNBC, 64 percent of Super Bowl viewers enjoyed the ad, with 87 percent of viewers saying they would remember it. Immediately after airing, the ad drove 150,000 visitors to Deathwish’s site and by the next day, the company’s sales rank on Amazon increased over 500 percent.

The momentum started gathering before the Super Bowl even aired, with the ad registering almost two million plays on YouTube a week before the game.

By building interest through social media, driving celebrity endorsements and views before the Super Bowl, and delivering with quality creative, Deathwish Coffee’s thirty-second spot proved that a television ad can still drive sales. Advertisers should integrate their television strategy with other marketing initiatives to take advantage of the reach of both mediums.

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