SHARON SPRINGS The price tag for 30 seconds of Super Bowl ad time averages $3.8 million, but the Fabulous Beekman Boys of Sharon Springs have a chance at getting that slot for free.
“We’d definitely like to have a Super Bowl ad,” said Brent Ridge, who forms the dynamic Beekman duo with Josh Kilmer-Purcell.
Intuit Inc., a software company specializing in financial and bookkeeping programs for small business, bought one of those multimillion-dollar ad slots for the big game to be played in New Orleans in February. According to the Intuit website, the company plans to feature a small business in their commercial. It’s called the Small Business Big Game program.
But Intuit executives aren’t going to just pick a cool small business to feature. They’ve putting it up for a vote. There’s a long list of small businesses up on the Intuit website, complete with photos, company narratives and a convenient “vote” button.
The business with the most votes moves on to a second round, then a third, and eventually on to television. Ridge applied Monday, writing up a few paragraphs on the Beekman 1802 working farm, which spawned a Cooking Channel reality show.
Small Business Big Game is a national competition, with many, many entries, so the Beekmans have an admittedly outside chance,
“It would be great,” Ridge said, “but there are a lot of great businesses entered already.”
Even so, Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell are good at outside chances. The pair won “The Amazing Race,” a CBS reality competition, last year and picking up a grand prize of $1 million — despite a sprained ankle and a pair of super-athletic Chippendales dancers finishing close behind.
It was that victory that propelled the Beekmans to enter the Intuit competition. A few years ago, after they lost jobs in New York City during the recession and bought the Beekman farm, Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell saw tomatoes as a way out of debt. They set their sights on an heirloom variety aptly named the Mortgage Lifter.
“It was developed by a West Virginia farmer in 1929,” Ridge said. “It did so well the guy paid off his mortgage.”
They made pasta sauce from their Mortgage Lifters, originally planning to lift their own mortgage. Then they won “The Amazing Race”.
“They say it’s a $1 million prize,” he said, “After taxes, its actually about $450,000, which was just enough to pay off the land. Then we thought we’d help other people pay off theirs.”
With their own finances squared away and Kilmer-Purcell able to quit his job in the city, the Beekmans are marketing a small line of Mortgage Lifter products. There’s the original tomato sauce, a barbecue sauce and a canned bruschetta topping, all made at least partially with their tomatoes. A portion of all proceeds goes to help fledgling farmers with solid business plans.
“I think farming should be a really solid middle-class income,” he said. “We want to help make that the case.”
The Mortgage Lifter brand is just now starting to catch on. Last week, Central Market, a 13-store grocery chain in Texas, became the Beekmans’ first major buyer.
Ridge wants to build the charity brand into something like Newman’s Own, with items in every grocery store in the country. He said 30 seconds between NFL tackles would help immensely.
Visit the Intuit page for more information or to vote at www.smallbusinessbiggame.com.