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How does a small Boston start-up get to the Super Bowl? Connections.

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 27, 2012 08:27 AM

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It isn't often that a seven-person company gets drafted to help with a Super Bowl advertising campaign. But the opportunity presented itself to Boston-based Promoboxx last fall.

Promoboxx founder Ben Carcio tells me that it was one of those phone calls he wasn't sure would be worth making. "Whenever you talk with mentors and investors, they're always trying to introduce you to other people in their networks, and you always wonder if the call will be worth the time," Carcio says. Dave Balter, founder of BzzAgent, suggested that Carcio get in touch with a media analyst and occasional investor in New York named Richard Greenfield, who in turn introduced Carcio to Avi Savar, a founder of the social media agency Big Fuel. The agency was working with Chevrolet on its Super Bowl XLVI campaign, and "they'd always tried to have a program that would better involve Chevrolet's dealers, but they could never execute it right," Carcio says. During their first meeting, Savar "was finishing my sentences."

So Big Fuel signed up Promoboxx to create co-branded pages for 3,000 Chevy dealers, who in turn help share the Super Bowl-related content (like the TV ad below) to their audiences on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. Carcio adds, "We also created a dealer scorecard, so each dealership can see how they rank among other dealers" in terms of generating Bowl-related buzz for Chevy.

Carcio says that the Big Fuel collaboration turned into the start-up's biggest project thus far; Promoboxx was founded in 2010, and participated in the TechStars Boston program last year. The company raised $565,000 in funding last month. Promoboxx's primary focus is helping brands customize promotional campaigns with their retailers or distributors.

"What I learned," Carcio says, "is that you've got to make every phone call, because you can never be sure what could happen."

Here's what the Promoboxx-created Facebook page looks like for one local Chevy dealer, Herb Chambers Chevrolet of Danvers:


And here's the ad Chevy will be running during next Sunday's Super Bowl. It's pretty funny:

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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