Egg company runner-up in ad contest
By Mike Creger, Forum News Service
DULUTH — LoLa has taken Manhattan — even if she didn’t take the big prize in Intuit’s Super Bowl ad contest.
Lucie Amundsen, a co-owner of Wrenshall egg company Locally Laid, is sitting in the lap of luxury in New York City’s Gramercy Park this weekend, courtesy of the small-business-software maker.
Locally Laid, with its mascot laying hens all named LoLa, was runner-up out of four finalists in the running to be featured in Intuit’s 30-second advertisement expected to run during the third quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast.
GoldieBlox, a California maker of learning toys for girls, was the winner, Amundsen said Thursday. Other finalists included Barley Labs, a dog-treat maker from North Carolina, and Dairy Poop, an Idaho company that makes natural compost from the namesake farm waste. Intuit’s official announcement is expected today.
“Big picture, all good,” Amundsen said. “Of course I wanted LoLa to be able to shout to the rooftops all the good news about pasture-raised chickens and how they lay healthier eggs. The big picture is so much better than I anticipated. I’m not going to have any bad feelings.”
The contest began in August and included Internet voting.
Representatives from all four small companies were brought to New York, home of Super Bowl activities this year.
Amundsen said Thursday that she was having a “bizarrely wonderful and surreal” time since landing in New York on Wednesday night. Her husband, Jason Amundsen, was expected Thursday night after escaping icy Atlanta and the International Poultry Expo.
“He’s the better spokeschicken,” Lucie Amundsen said of the prospect of being interviewed by herself Thursday for a cable news show.
All the business owners will be part of the Intuit Super Bowl party at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Sunday night.
While they didn’t win the big prize, Amundsen had plenty planned for the rest of her vacation.
“There are Broadway plays to be seen and food to be eaten,” she said. “I want to take a picture at the New York Public Library. I’m in a bevy of writers.”
Amundsen is part of that bevy. She had plans to meet with a literary agent about a book she has written about Locally Laid — working title: “Playing Chicken.”
Amundsen said she isn’t a big football fan but has enjoyed watching the Super Bowl for the ads, so the Intuit adventure suits her tastes.
She said he has friends in Denver and Seattle and didn’t have any predictions on the game.
“It feels like LoLa should root for a fellow bird,” she said, referring to the Seahawks. But her hens have no qualms with horses, she said, meaning they wouldn’t shun the Broncos.
The Amundsens will ring the bell to open the Nasdaq stock market Monday morning on Wall Street.
“We want to do Duluth proud,” Amundsen said.
She said she met the people from the other finalist businesses, including the men behind Dairy Poop from Idaho. They make natural compost from the namesake farm waste. The businesses owners had drinks Wednesday night.
“I gravitated toward them,” Amundsen said with a laugh about the only other farm-related business in the running.
She said Locally Laid has bonded with the other finalists.
“We all have the same challenges,” Amundsen said, and she has had interesting discussions with them.
It’s an extension of the support the couple have felt since joining the contest last year. Thousands of Minnesotans voted for Locally Laid online along with creating a buzz with others through social media and flyers.
“We’re over the moon with the support,” Amundsen said.
The value of a 30-second spot is estimated to be about $3 million. But Intuit will be promoting itself as well as a tool for small businesses. The contest has gained the Amundsens notoriety and exposure, but you still can’t call them rich.
Amundsen said the couple were able to secure enough money in a loan to buy their own farm a few miles from the one they were renting in Wrenshall. She’s glad for the new barn, which the hens moved into in November, just before the current deep-freeze winter.
“During this Polar Vortex minus 23 degree nightmare, our birds didn’t suffer,” she wrote earlier this month on the company’s blog, where she intends to post stories about her New York adventures and the contest results.