This fall I sent a ridiculous goal for myself; I wanted to try and watch every, single Crash the Super Bowl entry and create a list of the best submissions. But this year Doritos received a record number of videos. In all, about 5,000 ads are on display in the contest gallery. If one person were to sit and watch every one of those 30 second spots it would take them almost 42 man-hours to get through them all. That’s a hell of a lot of zombies and crotch shots for one person to endure!
I tried to “watch” about 100 entries a day but I’ve been crazy busy lately and I just had to throw in the towel after about 4,000 videos. And I put “watch” in quotation marks because I didn’t actually watch all of those entries all the way to the end. In fact, I would estimate that I only watched 10% of those ads all the way through. Why? Because to be frank, you can tell if a submission has a shot at winning after just the first few seconds. If an entry has terrible sound and bad picture and features people drinking beer or wearing t-shirts with recognizable trademarks on them then that entry is simply un-airable. So I skipped past most of the entries after about 3 or 4 seconds.
However, even though I only made it through about 70 or 80% of the submissions I think I was able to find most of the best entries in the contest. For the videos I couldn’t get to, I scrolled through the video gallery and stopped to check out the ads that had high-quality looking thumbnails. That might sound like a weird strategy but try it; you’ll find that if an entry’s thumbnail image looks good, the ad itself is probably decent. But I also owe a huge thanks to all of our readers who submitted their links or who sent me tips about great entries. I bet half of this “best of” list came from reader suggestions.
So how did I determine whether or not an entry was a contender? First, I eliminated every entry that had the following problems:
1. Un-fixable trademark or copyright violations
2. Un-fixable rule violations.
3. Offensive of disgusting content.
4. An idea that has already been done to death.
5. Very low production values.
Though Doritos has claimed that production quality doesn’t matter to them…it does. In 5 years, Doritos has never picked a finalist that had bad lighting, video or sound. So I would say that production values are a HUGE (but unofficial) factor in picking the Top 5. Every year Fritolay’s judges pick some not-so-funny but gorgeous looking, (relatively) big budget submissions. But they have never picked a hilarious but kind of crappy looking video for the finals. In fact, I’d estimate that at least 60% of all the past CSTB final ads were either shot on actual film or with high-end RED cameras. And this year I bet at least 3 of the 5 finalists will be shot with REDs.
So anyway, those were the problems I looked for. If a video didn’t have any of those issues, and if I was able to get through the whole video without being bored or turned off, here are the 4 questions I asked myself:
1. Based on how the Ad Meter works, does this spot have a chance at scoring well?
2. If people saw this ad on tv, would they like it enough to want to see it again later online?
3. Based on past finalist selections, does this video fit the tone and style of the videos that the judges at Fritolay seem to like?
4. Is it funny, memorable or special?
And that left me with a list of about 50 videos. Then I whittled that number down to this list of 25 ads. No wait…actually I’m going to share 26 videos. Why 26? Because one of these videos in my submission! I’ll just mix it in with the rest and you guys can consider it like a little Easter egg. If you can guess which one is mine, post your pick in a comment! Seriously though, I’m very proud of my team’s entry and I swear, if I hadn’t made it I would still include it in this list. But of course, my entry would obviously suit my own sense of humor since I wrote the thing.
Finally, there’s one other point I feel the need to make. Because this is a list of ads that I think have a shot at making the Final 5, there are a few videos here that I personally freaking HATE. But as I said, Doritos seems to really prefer gorgeous-looking ads so there are a few amazing looking but un-funny videos on this list.
And now, here is VCN’s list of the 2012 Crash the Superbowl Contenders! All the entries will be listed in alphabetical order. Click the images to view the entries. Here we go!
A DAY AT THE ZOO: This one is full of action, comedy and big wacky characters. I’d call this one a sure thing but the costumes are TOO good. I think the Zebra and the Lion are supposed to be the characters from the movie Madagascar. If that’s the case this video could never get cleared to air.
BABY DORITOS: This one is just bonkers. But I like it. It probably is too crazy to make the final 5 though:
BAD MONSTER: This is one of my personal favorites. It’s such a pure and simple idea that I can’t believe it’s never been done before. But the Universal-style Frankenstein might also prevent this one from getting cleared for air.
BIRD OF PREY: I’m not going to mince words; I despise this entry. I’ve seen too many poor, dead birds that smashed into windows in my life to think this is funny. But I think I hate this entry all the more because I know it will probably make the finals. Sorry to get Shakespearean on you but this ad is full of sound and fury but signifies nothing. It’s not funny but it LOOKS funny and it hits all the right beats. But the comedy falls flat because there is simply no reason this goofy guy should be acting like a bird. So it’s just crazniess for craziness’ sake. One more issue: The lead actor in this ad was also the lead in 2010 Crash the Super Bowl finalist ad, Casket. (He played the guy in the titular casket.) Actually, I did some googling and Bird of Prey was made by the same LA Megachurch that created Casket. Casting the same lead actor was a bad move; if Bird of Prey makes the finals it will look like that actor is some fritolay executive’s nephew of something. If the Doritos judges pass on this ad I’ll be pretty darn proud of them. They won’t though. It will be in the finals.
BROKEN CAPE: This one’s just amusing and quirky. It kind of reminded me of the simple “keep your hands of my momma, keep your hands off my doritos” ad from a few years ago.
CALL OF THE SEA: The judges in this contest love weird, random, quirky stuff and nothing is weirder or more random than a fisherman catching “the king of the sea.” I originally considered this spot too strange to include on this list but about 10 minutes after I watched it I was compelled to go back and watch it again. So it’s re-watch-ability sealed the deal for me.
CAVES AND MONSTERS: Brilliant. Clearly a masterpiece that was created by some kind of video contest genius. Doritos should just cancel the whole contest and send the director of this ad the million bucks…whoever he may be! (Winky-face!!)
DISTURBANCE: I feel like 1 out of every 10 entries I watched this year was a parody of Paranormal Activity. This is the only good one I saw. Actually, I’d say this is one of my personal favorites. The twist at the end is perfect.
DODGEBALL HUSTLE: I think I had this day dream 100 times when I was a kid.
DORITOS DAD: This one isn’t too crazy or quirky but it’s funny and well made. It could sneak into the Top 5.
DORITO TRIANGLE: This is hands down one of the slickest CTSB ads ever made. I can’t imagine how much it cost or how much time went into creating this spot. The funny thing is though that this ad probably can’t win! It references a bunch of real people and I don’t think you can refer to people like Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa in a commercial without getting the consent of their estates. Oh and also the ad isn’t too funny. It’s sort of only impressive because it’s competing against a bunch of videos that were shot by teenagers with flip cameras.
FOOD FIGHT BLITZ: Every year Doritos gets a million food fight videos. But this one was shot with a high-end camera and looks pretty slick.
GRAVITY: This one looks great and it has a big, shocking, violent ending which is always a big plus. But in this case, one of the people getting hurt was a woman. And she gets smooshed pretty hard. So I’m not sure if Doritos would take a gamble and pick any ad that showed violence happening to a woman. When a dude gets hit in the nuts it’s funny but when a woman gets crushed and (presumably) killed in a commercial people are going to get upset. To make things trickier, the editor inserted the famous “Wilhelm Scream” and I don’t think any unoriginal sound effects are allowed. It’s also a real turn off that the makers of this ad already built a slick website asking people to “Vote for Gravity” if it makes the finals: http://www.gravityandthegirl.com
HITCHHIKER: This was one of the very first great ads I saw this year. I think this one is a MAJOR contender but there’s a chance that the surprise at the end has been over-exposed thanks to similar “shock” videos on the web.
HIPSTER KIDS: This one makes the list just because it’s a gorgeous, expensive looking ad that was probably made by some of NYU’s most promising film students. It’s not funny though and hipsters and cute kids acting like adults both make my skin crawl. So this one is a double-whammy for me but I can see how the judges could get blinded by the amazing cinematography and the little kids in funny costumes.
IMAGINARY FRIEND: Pretty good. This one seems like it was made by some people who carefully studied what kind of ads usually make the finals.
JURASSIC KARMA: This one is cute and the ending did make me laugh out loud. The CGI is amazing for a video contest but I’m thinking it might not be pro enough for the super bowl.
KITTY HEIST: This entry was directed by two-time Crash the Super Bowl finalist Kevin Wilson. (He directed Casket in 2010 and Birthday Wish in 2011) This one is obviously cute but the only reason this ad is any good is because the producers poured a bunch of money into this project. In fact, the same thing could be said of Casket and Birthday wish. All 3 ads were shot with RED cameras and were probably cost at least $3,000 each to make. And that bothers me because it feels like this one filmmaker is able to just buy his way into the finals every year. And the more he wins, the more money he has to spend on his entry next year. This same director also submitted a second, very slick entry this year entitled Sling Baby but I think Kitty Heist has a much better chance of making the top 5.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: A few weeks ago I listed the “Top 5 most over-done Crash the Super Bowl ideas” and right at the top of my list was “Zombies.” This year it felt like 5% of the submissions I watched had zombies in them. I thought zombies in a CTSB entry would never seem fresh. And then I saw this entry. This one is absolutely perfect. But it might be a little too edgy for the Super Bowl. Not only is there a little gore, this spot acknowledges the existence of sex (gasp!) The actors are fantastic and they really nail the excellent script. If the Doritos judges feel like making one really ballsy pick this year, it will be this ad.
MAYBE NEXT YEAR: This is kind of a strange one but that baby cracks me up. If this aired during the super bowl people would just stop talking/eating/whatever to stare at the giant baby face and the pretty cinematography.. But unlike a lot of slick looking ads, this entry actually has a strong “punchline.”
MY FRIEND ARCHIE: Even by professional standards, the CGI in this video is pretty darn good. And it also manages to be kind of funny. But what matters in this contest is humor. If Doritos wanted slick CGI, they could just pay ILM to make them the most kick ass robot dog ever. Still, if this one makes the final 5 I won’t be totally shocked.
PAINT FIGHT: I personally like ads that have lots of action and a very simple storyline. Actually, the judges at fritolay seem to like that too. This ad has both of those features.
PINATA: I have seen roughly 100 billion CTSB entries that feature a piñata that is either a bag of Doritos or is filled with dortios. I don’t really like the concept but of all the piñata-themed ads I’ve seen, this one is the best.
SERIOUS PROBLEM: I saw a bunch of pretty good ghost-themed ads this year. Many of them had really great effects but not a lot of laughs. But I thought this one was kind of neat. It’s not super hilarious or anything but its good for a chuckle. Plus I like that he ghost is a pilgrim for no good reason.
SURPRISINGLY BIG TASTE: This is one of the only entries that actually made me laugh out loud. And it’s exciting too! I think it’s one of the most suspenseful video contest entries I’ve ever seen. You are just sitting and waiting to see what kind of horrible fate befalls that Innocent little toddler.
TONGUE LOVE: I’m going to call it: Tongue Love is my favorite 2012 Crash the Super Bowl entry. It’s simply ridiculous and awesome. The guy in the video is amazing and the twist at the end is just icing on the cake. I’m worried the tongue-humping might be a little too graphic for the judges though. Plus I think that there might even be a rule that says that characters aren’t allowed to sing or rap over the provided music.
Wow, what a perfect place to end the list! Hey see what I mean about videos with good thumbnails? Almost every one of these videos can be summed up with a single, iconic image. So…that’s the list. If you’re entry didn’t make it, please don’t take it personally. There were at least 25 other strong submissions I considered for this article. So just tell yourself that yours just barely missed the cut. If I missed any really great spots, be sure to leave a comment and me know. And if you think my list is full of shit you can let me know that too.
One final note: Today is December 21st. And aside from being my birthday (yes, for serious) it is also the day that Fritolay might be calling the potential finalists! I have talked to a lot of former Crash the Super Bowl finalists and I always ask them “How and when did Doritos give you the good news?” They always say the same thing; they got a call 2 or 3 days before Christmas eve. So I hope you all charged your cell phones last night. Good luck everybody!