OAKLAND -- Toy startup GoldieBlox will get 30 seconds of fame during one of the biggest television events of the year -- the Super Bowl.
The Oakland-based company, which makes a construction-themed doll set starring a tool-wielding female character named Goldie, will get free commercial airtime during Sunday's big game. GoldieBlox will appear in a 30-second commercial during the third quarter as the grand prize in a small business competition held by Mountain View software maker Intuit.
"We are so honored to get America's vote and put girl empowerment front and center in the biggest sports event of the year with an audience of more than 100 million people," said GoldieBlox founder and creator Debbie Sterling said in an email. "I think our big game spot is a rallying cry for girls to think big and disrupt the status quo to reach their potential."
GoldieBlox was selected from a group of four finalists to win the coveted airtime, which would cost about $4 million. GoldieBlox beat out Idaho dairy compost startup Dairy Poop; North Carolina-based Barley Labs, which makes dog treats out of recycled barley from a local brewery; and Minnesota egg company Locally Laid. More than 20,000 small businesses entered the competition after Intuit, which has complete creative control over the commercial, began accepting submissions last July.
One requirement of the competition was that the winner be able to meet the increased demand for its products expected after the commercial is aired. Sterling told The Associated Press she has prepared for a surge of orders by hiring a company to help with shipping and contracting with a second factory in China to make the toys. GoldieBlox sells at Toys R Us, Target and other specialty stores.
The toy company, which Sterling started in 2012 in a cramped Oakland office seven years after completing an engineering degree at Stanford University, has already spent time in the spotlight. Last year Sterling found herself in a legal battle with the hip hop group Beastie Boys after producing a video spoof of the group's hit song "Girls." The video advertisement, which has since been removed from YouTube, featured three girls playing with a Rube Goldberg contraption while singing alternative lyrics about girl power that poked fun at the original lyrics. The video had more than 8 million views in a week and ignited a firestorm of debate over intellectual property rights.
In November, GoldieBlox sued the Beastie Boys, claiming their video was a parody and the company's use of the song was fair. The Beastie Boys fired back last month with a lawsuit that alleges GoldieBlox committed copyright and trademark infringement.
"We are actively working to settle with the Beastie Boys." Sterling said.
But on Thursday, some Twitter users took to their social media accounts to question why GoldieBlox wasn't disqualified from the competition because of the lawsuit.
Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.