Ok, I’ll admit it, I am a bit of a sucker for the Super Bowl ads. And each year before the big game, I am especially interested to see which tech companies feel compelled to toss down $3.5 million for a 30-second spot.
This year, there’s a new entrant in the field: InfoSpace. Well, not InfoSpace directly. But the Bellevue company’s newly-acquired TaxACT business plans to air the ad below during the big game.
“It is definitely a bold move,” said InfoSpace spokeswoman Stacy Ybarra, adding that the Super Bowl ad was already in the works before they announced the $287 million acquisition of TaxACT last month.
It does makes sense for TaxACT to tout its message at this time. After all, tax season is just around the corner, with Ybarra noting that many Americans just now getting their W-2 tax forms.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based TaxACT also has a compelling story to tell as it battles against the industry leader: Intuit’s TurboTax. Ybarra says that Intuit spends far more on marketing, and the “Feel the Free” Super Bowl ad is meant to bolster the TaxACT brand at a critical time.
All of that said, I am not sure I get the premise of the ad, which made its debut on The Today show this morning. The ad features a little boy in a pool who desperately needs to go to the bathroom. (Yes, potty humor).
Today show host Al Roker properly summed up my thoughts this morning when he concluded that the ad “has nothing to do with taxes.” But Matt Miller, the president of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, told Roker that “humor has always been a great way to sell.” Miller then called the TaxACT ad — which ends with the boy peeing in the pool — “a little gross, a little offbeat, but it is still a lot of fun.”
I asked Ybarra what they were going for in the ad. “It is a different take on the concept of free,” she tells GeekWire. “For this boy, free was needing to relieve himself.”
Madison Avenue should be so proud. Here’s a look at the ad (the third in the segment).