Vidler’s 5&10 store is aiming for new social media summits: It’s hoping to win a free Super Bowl commercial worth $4 million.
It started a little more than a year ago, when Don Vidler noticed a story about a contest to win a 30-second ad to be broadcast during the NFL’s big football game.
Vidler enlisted help from his YouTube collaborator, independent filmmaker John Paget, and put together a contest entry that included an amusing, deadpan tour of the rambling store spanning four Main Street buildings.
“Paddle balls? Coonskin cap? Hula hoop? Back scratcher? … We got you covered. Atomic fire balls? … Toaster tongs and Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap? Check,” says Don Vidler, in a furry hat, his arms full of some of the store’s “guesstimated” 75,000 items. “Vidler’s is an unforgettable experience that can’t be duplicated online … Thank you for your vote.”
Now, after posting the video and collecting votes at www.smallbusinessbiggame.com, Vidler’s has won a place among “tens of thousands” of small-business contenders in Round 2 of Intuit’s first “Small Business, Big Game” contest. The current phase of vote collecting lasts until Sunday at 11:59 p.m., or midnight, Pacific time.
“What we’re really excited about is we’ve sparked something across the country that has exceeded our expectations,” said Heather McCllelan, director of communications at Intuit, a 30-year-old company with financial management programs such as QuickBooks.
There have been entries from farmers, compost sellers or consultants who have moved her with stories of inspiration, like the baker using a mother’s recipe or a teacher who feels driven to pass along the gift of learning.
“That’s the part that gives you goose bumps, when you watch these videos,” McCllelan said. “That’s what makes it hard for us because, wow, there’s tens of thousands of those to choose from.”
The contest has multiple parts, including essays about business philosophy and advice, which Vidler learned from his father and grandfather:
“Be fair, be honest, have fun,” he said. “If you really enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Vidler then turned to the computer to show off one of his favorite commercials on the store’s YouTube channel: Episode 32, with former Buffalo Bills player Steve Tasker in Vidler’s yarn aisle.
So far the contest has led to attention from local TV stations, a bump in Facebook “likes” – 4,961 on a recent check – and heart-warming social media notes from devoted fans.
If Vidler’s makes the cut to the next round, some of Intuit’s 8,000 employees will vote to winnow the entries down to four finalists. The ultimate winner will be picked by “the world”: Anyone can vote as the contest progresses until sometime in November.
In the end, one small business will wind up with a professionally produced Super Bowl commercial.
“It would be terrific. That’s kind of the end of the rainbow,” said Vidler. “We’re certainly not going to be upset or heartbroken if we don’t get it. It’s been a lot of fun.”