Intuit Does Not Advance NORML to Round 3 in Super Bowl Ad Contest

Today, Intuit announced the 20 finalists who moved on to Round 3 of their “Small Business, Big Game” contest. Despite finishing first in the initial round of public voting (Intuit removed the ability to sort by vote popularity during the second round) and generating hundreds of media hits through Round 2, Intuit, for reasons not communicated to NORML, decided not to advance our entry to the latest round in the contest.

(NOTE: Intuit had opened the contest up to non-profit organizations, which NORML is. We also met their requirements in both staff and budget for being a “small business”)

“It is unfortunate that Intuit seems to be relying more on outdated political values instead of overwhelming public opinion when it comes to selecting which entries advanced in their contest,” noted NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “As demonstrated by the outpouring of support and positive media coverage for our entry, the country was ready and eager to see an ad for sensible marijuana law reforms during the most watched TV program of the year. This could’ve been a win for all groups involved, but instead Intuit will likely have only generated ill will for itself amongst the 58% of Americans who now support ending our country’s war on marijuana.”

Though NORML has been excluded from Round 3 of the contest, our entry was covered by countless media outlets across the country. You can view a list of some of these media stories below:

Fox Business Network

Fox Business Network Part 2

East Bay Express

Digital Journal

NY Daily News

USA Today

Advertising Age


Huffington Post

Seattle Pi

Business Week


AOL (video also aired on local news stations)


Death and Taxes

The Weed Blog

Sports Illustrated

Brand Channel

The Daily Chronic

Think Progress

KTVB (Local Broadcast Idaho)

WHAS11 (Broadcast Channel Kentucky)


Democrat and Chronicle



The Tennessean

Courier Journal

Medical Daily


Opposing Views



Marshfield News Herald

Stevens Point Journal


Elite Daily


Celebrity Cafe


NORML would like to thank all of those who supported us in this effort. Thanks to your passion, Super Bowl Ad or not, we still took the message of legalization across the country and generated substantial conversation on this important issue. As PR expert Peter Madden stated on our entry to USA Today, even without an ultimate victory in the contest, NORML already won big. “This isn’t PR gold,” Madden stated, “It’s PR platinum.”

83 thoughts

  1. I agree with Brad Forrester. Why rely on Intuit. Why can’t NORML advertise to it’s database a campaign for donations; specifically earmarked for a superbowl ad. An ad that millions of people all of the country will be watching. I’d donate $20 bucks for that also. …..Just sayin.

    [Editor’s note: There is a reason why you’ve never seen an ACLU, PETA, NAACP or NORML ad during a Super Bowl:
    The cost to produce and purchase a 30 second Super Bowl TV ad is multiples larger than most non-profits’ entire annual operating budget, including NORML’s. Also, even if the money is raised and a well produced TV ad is in hand, the broadcast network does not have to accept the advertising buy.

    With the NFL being so dependent on beer industry money, one should be hardly surprised if they NEVER see a pro-cannabis advertisement on such a prominent national (and international) broadcast until the federal prohibition on cannabis ends.]

  2. I suggest that you put magnetic signs on your cars, trucks, and RVs. This way will communicate very loud and very noticeable.

  3. @Ross – I agree 100% that NORML should post a list of pro- and anti- marijuana companies so that people nationwide can boycott them; we can all start with Wal-Mart since they are already known for their zero tolerance of anyone using marijuana for any reason.

    Further, I think NORML should have a page(s) showing political candidates at all levels and show their stance regarding marijuana to help us make our voting decisions. I know that it wouldn’t be easy or cheap to compile such a list but if NORML was to have a special fundraiser for this specific purpose that we would come together to donate and help make it happen!


    Here is Intuit’s Facebook page everyone please post your complaints about NORML being removed from the competition here. Many people are posting that they will no longer be buying their products and if enough people do this maybe they will reverse their stance.

  5. Also please like the top comments that are criticizing Intuit for removing NORML and the comments about avoiding their products.

  6. I stopped using intuit’s turbotax and switched to H&R Block years ago because Intuit was keeping tax returns by purposely delaying tax forms and keeping them stocked in a bank in Santa Barbara just to collect interest.
    And now their message is, “by the way, we don’t support the majority vote of marijuana, we like to deceptively change the rules whenever we set up a democratic system, so go ahead and trust our organization. I DARE you.”
    Don’t worry NORML; clearly your organization is the one collecting “interest” now.


    Here are the regulations for the contest. Most importantly section 7 and beyond outline the restrictions on content. “The Submission must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where Submission is created.”

    Seeing as federal law still says marijuana is illegal in any form, and that marijuana has not been decriminalized in DC (yes they allow medical use of cannabis for a list of approved conditions), where NORML operates, this is totally fair of Intuit to do. Furthermore, in the majority of states marijuana is still completely illegal, and this ad would be seen nationwide.

    And in the end, it’s FOX’s airtime and their choice about what they want to air. I’m sorry, but they would never air a pro-marijuana ad at the biggest television event of the year. Thus, it’s entirely beyond Intuit’s control. They pulled the plug at the end of round two, because they knew it wouldn’t air. This allows for another company, who actually has the potential to have their ad shown during the game, a fair shot in round 3.

    I’m an avid smoker and pro marijuana, but this is not that big of a shock and the fact that everybody is so up in arms and getting hostile towards Intuit just shows ignorance on your part.

  8. @Julian

    The contest rules state that Intuit can alter the contest at any time at their discretion. Also, people were able to vote every day. Marijuana advocates/enthusiasts tend to be louder, more passionate than people who may be voting for other companies. This does not necessarily translate to a “majority vote.” Rather, the contest got exposure on sites like Reddit and elsewhere on the internet where there is a large pro-marijuana community who can vote every single day for NORML. That doesn’t really mean it’s a majority vote or a purely democratic contest.

  9. I have been a supporter of NORMAL since the 80’s and the thing that bugged about your ad was that you had to go and bring people’s sexual standpoint into it. That has nothing to do with our cause. It just added another layer of controversy to an already misunderstood subject.

  10. Looks like D.C. will decriminalize mj by Jan. 2014, before the Superbowl airs. This would cover Intuits’ restriction on illegality. I don’t believe NORMLs’ ad would promote the use of mj, that’s an individuals’ choice to use or not use and GOD knows its use is extensive and worldwide, but rather to begin a rational dialog to legalize and regulate a substance less harmful than alcohol products and to stop ruining peoples’ lives over an unadulterated plant. Isn’t Utah a ‘dry’ state? Does Fox edit out beer commercials from its broadcast in that state? If not, then their policy is hypocritical. Censoring NORML would be denying them their First Amendment rights to free speech. Intuit removed the potential winner and replaced them with a guaranteed loser. Looks like there are 20 losers here, 19 entrants and Intuit.

  11. I am a strong supporter of Cannabis for Medical use and also support recreational use for adults.
    I think Intuit is wrong for removing NORML from the contest.

    For the health of us all the word needs to get out!

    To show my support of Marijuana/Cannabis I will be turning off the television when any commercial is played during the Super Bowl.

  12. why not fly a blimp or small cessna above or around the football stadium with a banner for an hour or 2. even if they don’t show it on tv i’m sure people would record it and put it on youtube.

  13. @Ross – I am a web designer and would be more than happy to host and design a page which specifies canidates which oppose and support legalization. email if interested…basically if someone compiles the info and buys the domain name…Ill build and host it…and give copies of the site to others to ensure it continues regardless of any one hacker or unforeseen issue. Please let me know I have suggested the same exact thing here in Indiana.

  14. This is off there participation pdf

    Top Twenty (20) Semi-Finalist Determination by Sponsor: A panel of qualified judges determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion will review

    Small Business, its owner, and Submissions present owner thoughtfully, articulately and with passion for his/her Small Business (20%);

    Small Business, its owner, and Submissions authentically represent Small Business and its owner (20%);

    Small Business, its owner, and Submissions are entertaining and create an emotional connection with viewers/readers (20%);

    Small Business, its owner, and Submissions appropriately represent the Sponsor as a Brand Ambassador (20%);

    Small Business is financially stable (10%); and
    Public Appeal (10%)

    Representation of sponsor as brand ambassador might have been what got the ad pulled, otherwise the judges are just bunk…

  15. @Kyle, concerning the rule you listed, yes marijuana is illegal, however voting is not… They are not advocating people smoking marijuana, they are advocating people voting for the legalization of marijuana.

  16. I remember a contest of anti-Bush commercials that some group did, was it MoveOn? Although, they had been promised a spot the big shots pulled it. Too rough on their boy.

  17. Intuit has been known to be heavily biased against our industry. I’ve had to jump through hoops for months when they up and decide your business can no longer accept money through them. Two separate businesses, one only remotely even considered to be part of our industry, and they shut us down with the flick of a switch.

  18. It would be nice if the Seahawks, and Denver would affix NORML’s logo to their helmets, and or uniforms.

  19. Politics, it always comes down to politics. Not the vote. Just goes to show you that it really doesn’t matter what the people want. We just listen to the words “let them eat cake”.

  20. I say we have two weeks to make as much noise about intuit backing down from their deal as possible. More & more polls are being released showing public support across the Nation!

    Seriously! The NFL needs to take a long hard look at its “policies” and realize if their superstars (players) prefer the SAFER choice in Cannabis, then they should be welcome to treat their own mind & body as they see fit. Uncle Sam finally found his lighter and has sparked up a spliff… let’s hope We see the haze come Super Bowl Sunday!

  21. I like the idea of little NORML logo on the helmets. What would really be amazing would be for the sea of fans to spell the word NORML with the color of their clothes. I wonder, does the stadium have any rules that limit free speech on clothing? Hopefully if it does its not like Magic Mountains policy. People wearing anything with the word “marijuana” are told to leave without a refund or they can replace the shirt.

    Just everyone wearing green would be awesome too.

  22. Release the commercial to the people, It can see WAY more views than at a sporting event. Social networking over television networks any day.

  23. I just found out about this. I hope some people are passing out signs at the super bowl eg.(I support norml, Intuit cheated norml won) You can’t run your ad but they can’t silence the audience. If everyone that voted showed up with a sign you would see just how many people support reform and you can’t buy that kind of advertisement.

  24. It seems to me you are trying hard but unlikely to ever convince the outdated minds in positions of power….. although you now have several states legally selling so maybe progress is being made after all?

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