I have a Google News alert set for the phase “Crash the Super Bowl” and those alerts have been blowing up my inbox all month. A few news sites covered FritoLay’s final call for entries but most of the stories I’ve seen came from local news outlets and were about people who entered the contest. And if you read these articles or watch these segments, it’s pretty obvious that the featured actors or filmmakers are the ones who contacted the media and pitched their story. Here are a few samples of what I’m talking about:
Hanford Sentinel: Local filmmaker competing in commercial contest for Doritos
Salt Lake City Tribune: Utah commercial shows what really goes on during sexy time
The Sheboygan Press: North High student is All In on commercial
Vicksburg Exponent Telegram: Bridgeport native submitting video for Doritos contest
FOX-Kansas City: Area filmmaker attempts to have his commercial air during super bowl
NBC-Lexington KY: Doritos smoothie could put grad student in National Spotlight
NBC-Atlanta: Doritos ad with Atlanta ties among most viewed in Super Bowl contest
Those stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Every year I see a few articles about local Crash the Super Bowl contestants but I’ve never seen 3 or 4 articles a day before. These stories are weirdly fascinating because most of the featured filmmakers clearly have no idea how the Crash the Super Bowl contest actually works. Most of them are trying to get some press coverage because they think that extra views and votes will help them make the finals. (Just for the record: Views and votes have ZERO impact in the first stage of the Crash the Super Bowl contest) Here’s are a few paragraphs from the Hanford Sentinel story. I’ll highlight important passages in orange.
HANFORD — A local filmmaker is competing for a chance to have his video be the next Doritos spot that will air live during the most watched sporting event in the United States.
Joshua C——-, owner and founder of R——–, a local film production company, has submitted his 30-second video “Bad Dog” in the annual Doritos “Crash The Super Bowl” commercial contest.
For the competition, contestants submit short video spots, judges select semi-finalists and then the world is allowed to vote for their favorite from the pool of finalists. The winner gets to have his video air live during the football game, wins $1 million cash, a trip to watch the Super Bowl and a trip to New York for a behind-the-scenes tour of the next “Avengers” movie, “Age of Ultron.”
But, for now, Cordero has to make it through the first phase of the contest.
“I’m still waiting to hear if I’m even a semi-finalist,” he said. “They will let me know on Dec. 11.”
He said that in order to move on, the judges will pick the semi-finalists based on certain criteria. One of those criteria is video views and ratings.
“I need my supporters to go to Doritos.com, watch and rate the video,” he said. “The more views and ratings it gets the more likely I might become a semi-finalist.”
Cordero then explained that on Jan. 4, voting will open to the public and his fans can vote for his video once every day until the contest ends, and if his video gets the most votes, he will win.
It’s clear this filmmaker never bothered to look at the official rules. It’s also clear that this guy thinks he’s a lock for the Top 5. He’s already planing his strategy for when he makes the finals! I could be a dick and post his entry but I won’t. His video did make me chuckle but as you can probably guess, there’s pretty much zero chance the judges will pick his entry.
As I said, most of the stories that wind up in my in-box are pretty similar to that article. The featured director asks people to help him win by watching his (not very good) commercial and rating it five-stars. In many cases, the filmmakers have high hopes and are confident that they’re going to make the finals because their ad is already one of the Top-Rated or Most-Viewed submissions.
This type of self-promotion might sound harmless but these articles could actually lead to some unforeseen, negative consequences. For one thing, some a-hole blogger could post a link to your story and say snarky things about it. But worse than that, press coverage might cause your cast and crew and family and friends to really get their hopes up. Your teammates may think “Hey, if NBC Atlanta bothered to send a TV crew to cover our efforts, we must really have a shot at winning!“ But NBC Atlanta (and really any news outlet in the world) is always on the look out for fun, easy stories. So the TV crew isn’t showing up because your entry is amazing; the TV crew shows up because you’re a local and your story comes with some amusing, pre-shot visuals.
So if you keep telling people that views and votes will help you win, and if your local paper backs up that idea (few reporters are going to bother checking the rules to see if you know what you’re talking about) then your friends are going to be in for a huge let down. After everyone finds out that your incredibly “popular” entry didn’t even make the semi-finals, you’re going to be receiving a lot of messages from people asking the same thing: “Dude, what happened? We were on TV! We were the #2 most viewed entry out of like 5,000 videos! How could we not win!??!”
Now having said all that, as long as you have your facts straight, a story in the Salt Lake City Tribune or the Vicksburg Telegram won’t really have any impact on your chances of making the finals. A story won’t help, but it also won’t hurt. So if you want to use the Crash the Super Bowl contest as an excuse to bulk up your production company’s press packet, I say go ahead and contact a local reporter.