Familiar beer brands and automakers weren’t the only ones competing for the attention of Americans during commercial breaks in Super Bowl LV.

Venice-based direct-to-consumer startup Dr. Squatch Inc. drew attention to its lineup of natural soaps and hygiene products with an advertisement midway through the game.

The company didn’t say how much it paid for the ad, but 30 seconds of airtime reportedly cost advertisers more than $5 million on average in 2021.

Chief Executive Jack Haldrup said the high-profile ad drove a surge in both product sales and traffic on the company’s website the day it aired. “We’ve had a pretty good track record of growth over the past couple of years, so this was really a way to put our brand on the map,” Haldrup said.

Dr. Squatch launched in 2013 and has slowly built a following of loyal customers through quirky and recognizable online advertisements and a line of products appealing to male customers not used to being choosy about hygiene products.

Haldrup said he started the company after he was diagnosed with psoriasis and began thinking more carefully about the soaps and skincare products he was using.

“It was a lightbulb moment for me,” he said. “You use soap every day, but no one really talks about it, especially guys I know. My theory was there were probably a lot of people out there like me who would really like this product, but it’s not being marketed to them.”

In 2019, Dr. Squatch raised $1.3 million from Guild Capital to scale up its business after experiencing a surge in sales following the launch of its video ad campaign.

That small investment paid off; the company recently announced it had generated more than $100 million of revenue in 2020, and Haldrup said it is operating profitably after its expansion.

“We’re trying to navigate how to become a mainstream brand in 2021,” he said. “That’s the challenge ahead of us.”

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