A Crash the Super Bowl Bummer: Three of the five 2012 finalists were made by past winners


Last night, just after midnight Doritos revealed the 5 finalists in the 2011/2012 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  And the results are simply disgusting….but not because the winning ads are terrible.  Actually, all 5 of Doritos’ picks are well made and kind of amusing.  No, the thing that’s filled me with disgust is WHO made the finals this year.  You see, THREE of the FIVE winning ads were made my people who wrote, directed or produced previous Crash the Super Bowl finalist spots.  But that’s not all…those three teams are actually all part of a single group of filmmakers from the LA area.  But that’s not all either!  One of this year’s winning commercials was directed by one 2011 Doritos finalist and produced by a different 2011 Doritos finalist; basically two of last year’s winners decided to join forces this year.  So long story short, these results tell us that if you want to win the Crash the Super Bowl contest all you have to do is win the Crash the Super Bowl contest and then enter again the next year.

For the record, the names of the entries that made the Top 5 this year are Sling Baby, Bird of Prey, Hot Wild Girls, Dog Park and Man’s Best Friend.  Now please bare with me while I attempt to break down the finalist family tree:

SLING BABY:  This spot was directed by a filmmaker named Kevin T. Willson.  Amazingly, Willson has now made the Crash the Super Bowl finals THREE YEARS IN A ROW now.  In 2010 he directed an ad entitled Casket and in 2011 he directed one entitled Birthday Wish.  Both entries made the Doritos finals and Casket aired during the Super Bowl.  According to the website, Vote4slingbaby.com, many crew members worked on all three of Willson’s ads. But I only learned about the overlapping crew thanks to google.  The Sling Baby site seems to go out of it’s way to avoid mentioning the fact that this team has won this contest twice before.  In fact, the “About Us” section states “Sling Baby is home-made by a group of good friends.”  Of course the website also lists the names of about 40 crew people including two ADs, a stunt coordinator and an entertainment attorney….not too shabby for a “homemade” commercial.  One more interesting fact; Sling Baby actually features the same child actor that starred in Birthday Wish.  I’m guessing all of Fritolay’s judges have working eyeballs so they must have realized there was probably a connection between the two spots. But if using the same child actor was too subtle, Sling Baby was submitted under the username “KevinTW.”  Even I realized that KevinTW had to be the guy who made Casket and Birthday Wish.  It was so obvious that it almost seemed like the director wanted the judges to know it was his spot.

BIRD OF PREY:  Kevin Willson’s Casket ad was apparently a very large production and an entire team of filmmakers from Los Angeles all worked on it together.  And it seems many of the cast and crew go to a “megachurch” in LA known as Mosaic. From what I’ve read it’s kind of famous for being popular with aspiring actors and filmmakers.  (The head of the church, pastor Erwin McManus was actually the “executive producer” of Casket.)  I guess Wilson’s success inspired his Casket teammates to try and win the Doritos contest themselves.  The result is Bird of Prey.  The spot was written and directed by one of the writers/crew members of Casket, Joby Harris.  After doing some googling it looks like several people who helped created Bird of Prey are part of the “Mosaic Church” team.   Most notably, the stunt coordinator did the stunts for Casket AND Sling Baby.  To top it off, Bird of Prey even features the same actor that starred in Casket, David Schultz.  In Casket he played the man in the titular Casket and in Bird of Prey he’s the guy who thinks he’s a bird.  Again, assuming that the Doritos judges have memories and eyeballs they had to have recognized the lead actor and known the spot had some kind of connection to CasketUPDATE: In a video posted on the CTSB site, the director of Bird of Prey explains that he was only able to make this ad because he recived a $10,000 gift from someone from his church.

DOG PARK:  Now here’s where things get really weird.  Dog Park was directed by a filmmaker from Utah named Tyler Dixon.  Dixon created the (very funny) ad The Best Part which made the Doritos finals last year.  (Remember, it was the one were a McLovin lookalike licked cheese off his co-worker’s fingers?)  But Dog Park was produced by a producer from LA named Heather Kasprzak.  Kasprzak is also part of the Mosaic church team and she produced Birthday Wish which Kevin Willson (Casket, Sling Baby) directed.  Technically, she was one of the five finalists last year since that ad was submitted under her name.  I’m guessing that Wilson didn’t enter Birthday Wish under his own name because he thought it might hurt his chances since he had already been to the finals.  But anyway…do you get what happened here?  The producer of Birthday Wish obviously met the director of The Best Part at the Super bowl last year.  At some point they decided to team up and now both of them get to go back to the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row.  That’s seriously kind of bogus.  And like Sling Baby, it seems like the director of Dog Park wanted the judges to know who made this ad.  It was submitted under the username “TylerDixon.”  (Though I’m kind of being a dick right now I do respect that these guys put their name on their ads.  If it was intentional there was a real chance the plan could have backfired.)

So it’s all a little too incestuous, isn’t it?  I’m disappointed that these three entries made the finals this year because it proves that the Crash the Super Bowl contest is totally and completely broken.  This year, Fritolay recived a whopping 6,100 entries.  That means the odds of making the final five are 1 in 1,220.  So, how in the world is it possible that 3 of the 5 teams of finalists all know each other, go to the same church in LA and  have won the contest before??  There are only three explanations:

1.  The wining teams just happen to be made of up of some of the greatest commercial writers/directors/actors in the country.

2.  The Hollywood Branch of Mosaic Church in LA has pleased God so much that he keeps bestowing his blessings (in the form of cash and trips to the Super Bowl) on its parishioners.

3.  Being a finalist in the Crash the Super Bowl contest one year gives a filmmaker a tremendous advantage the next year.

Obviously (and hopefully) the answer to this mystery is Explanation #3.  Over the years, there have been a number of people who have been able to make the Top 5 more than once.  Off the top of my head I can think of 4 times it’s happened and that’s not counting Kevin Wilson who will now be taking his third trip to the Super Bowl.  So WHY does being a finalist one year give you such a huge edge over the competition the next year?  Here are a few possible reasons:

1.  MONEY:  The biggest and most obvious factor is money.  That’s all there is to it.  Of the 6,100 entries Doritos received this year, I would guess that only about 60 submissions cost more than $1,000 to produce.  Real “Average Joes” can’t afford to gamble more than a few hundred dollars on their videos.  And really, I’m guessing most CTSB submissions cost under $50 to make. So if you spend enough money and if you use the right camera (Doritos loves ads that are shot with RED cameras) then you pretty much are automatically a serious contender for the Top 5.

But Sling Baby, Bird of Prey and Dog Park all must have cost a small fortune to produce.  All three seem to have been shot with the aforementioned RED cameras which cost well over $1,000 a day to rent.  (I bet all 3 ads were even shot with the same exact camera.)  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the three finalist ads in question probably each cost $3,000 to $6,000 to make.  Like I said, a broke-ass filmmaker in Des Moines can’t afford to spend that much cash on a “spec” commercial.  But you know who can?  Someone who won a $25,000 finalist prize in the previous installment of The Crash.  Former finalists have a huge advantage because they are able to invest their winnings into new entries.  It’s a hell of  a smart investment.  Former finalists understand that they will have an edge over the competition (for the reasons I’m listing now) in this particular contest.  Spending $5,000 of their prize money from last year is a no-brainer if it means that they might have a shot at winning a million bucks this year.  These people are not the greatest commercial directors in the country.  It’s just that low budgets inhibit the creativity of a filmmaker.  There is no cheap way to make an ad like Sling Baby or Dog Park.  As I said, it took about 40 people to make Sling Baby.  The thing that separates the repeat winners from the Average Joes is cold, hard cash and the willingness to spend it.  If you picked a few contestants at random and gave them $5,000 to spend I bet you’d get at least a few commercials that were funnier and more clever than Sling Baby, Bird of Prey or Dog Park.

2.  INSIDE INFORMATION.  Former finalists understand the Crash the Super Bowl contest in a way that most contestants can’t imagine.  They basically get to spend several days partying with other winners and the contest judges at the Super Bowl.  It’s an amazing opportunity to pick the brains of professional ad executives and the people in charge of the contest.  Finalists get to see how the contest works from the inside.  I think the reason so many finalist enter this contest year after year is because they understand that Doritos needs to pick professional looking ads that will look good playing on an HD TV on Super Bowl sunday.  So finalists know that if they spend enough money they can maybe just BUY a spot in the finals.  It’s sad but true.  And 99% of the people who enter this contest don’t know that.  They just think that if they shoot a hilarious ad with their flip camera they have a fair and square shot of making the finals….but they don’t.

3.  SPECIAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES AND TALENT:  Once a filmmaker makes the CTSB finals they automatically earn a ton of street cred with other filmmakers.  If you made a commercial that aired during goddamn Super Bowl you better believe that a lot of doors are going to fly open the next time you need help on a big shoot.  Seriously, what actor or crew member wouldn’t want to work on the CTSB entry of a person who already won the CTSB contest?  And can anyone honestly say that the team that made Dog Park didn’t have an unfair advantage here?  Dog Park would never have been made if the producer and the director didn’t meet at the Super Bowl last year.  Is it really fair that winners are allowed to join forces, pool their winnings and form a super-team?

4.  PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE JUDGES:  As I mentioned, when you win the Crash the Super Bowl contest you basically get to spend a week at the Super Bowl with the people who run the contest.  You go to dinner with them every night, you go to big parties with them, hell, you get drunk in a skybox at the Super Bowl with them.  The reps from Fritolay and Goodby/Silverstein (The ad firm that manages the contest) get to know the finalists very well.  Is it really that hard to imagine that some judges might have a soft spot for some of the previous finalists?  This year, Kevin Wilson (to his credit) submitted Sling Baby under his own name.  So the judges knew who made that spot.  Wilson made the finals in 2010 and 2011 but he never never won one of the big USA Today Ad Meter bonuses.  Is it possible that his friends at Fritolay decided to give him one more shot at the gold medal?  We outsiders don’t know how close the contestants and the judges get.  Do they stay in touch?  Could a previous finalist e-mail someone at Fritolay and say “Hey buddy, I entered the contest again this year and I thought you’d get a kick out of my submissions!”

Whatever the explanation may be, it is now impossible to deny that past finalists have a massive and unfair advantage over the rest of the filmmakers in the competition.  It’s ridiculous that literally one small group of filmmakers from one church in LA get so much out of the contest and tens of thousands of filmmakers from the rest of the country get so little.  Actually, the people who are going to get screwed the hardest are the two 2012 finalists that made the Top 5 for the first time this year.  Because the makers of Sling Baby, Bird of Prey and Dog Park all know each other and go to the same church, they can conspire to make sure that one of the “Mosaic” entries gets enough votes to air during the big game.  At the very least, the past finalists already know how to run an online campaign to get votes.  Their friends already know “the drill” and they can use all the same resources that they developed last year.

So this is really a sad state of affairs.  Normally, we have one big rule here at VCN;  DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME.  You can scream all you want about how stupid the judges of a video contest are but you can’t blame a filmmaker for winning.  However in this case I think one 2012 finalist should have retired from competing with “amateurs” by now.  It seems borderline unethical to continue to enter every year when you have an unnatural and inappropriate advantage.  Just because you can win doesn’t mean you should try.  At some point you should step aside and let others get a crack at what is billed as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.  One of the big points of this contest its that it is supposed to help launch a filmmaker’s career.  It was never meant to BE a filmmaker’s carer.

But for the most part, the blame here falls on the shoulders of the judges at Fritolay and the consultants at Goodby, Silversein and Partners.  There were plenty of entries that were just as good or better than Sling Baby, Dog Park and Bird of Prey.  Why not spread the wealth around a little?  Picking the 3 ads that were made by people the judges know casts a disturbing pall over the whole contest.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say The Crash was somehow rigged but you gotta admit, this is some seriously fishy business.  Insiders have a much, much, much better chance of winning than outsiders do and that just comes off as kind of suspicious. I did mention that the odds of making the finals this year were 1 in 1,220, right?

In my last post I said I would review all 5 finalist ads as soon as they were posted.  But this stuff with the repeat finalists caught me off guard.  The two videos that were made by first time finalists are actually the best in the bunch.  (watch them here)  But they also look “homemade” (which I prefer) when compared to a super shiny and expensive ad like Dog Park.  Oh yeah…I forgot about the dogs.  Turns out if you didn’t put a dog or a baby in your entry you had no chance of winning this year.  I’ll do reviews of each winning ad in a few days.  Plus I’ll also announce which ad I personally will be voting for.  In the mean time, please feel free to share your own opinions in the comment section.


UPDATE:  This article seems to have gotten a lot of attention and it looks like we might set a one-day traffic record today.  A lot of people have been leaving comments and I really appreciate everything everyone has been saying.  It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy and that other people agree that something is wrong if the same exact people win this contest year after year.  But a few people are misinterpreting this point of this article so I want to make two clarifications:

CLARIFICATION #1:  I am absolutely, positively 100% NOT saying that professionals should be prohibited from entering the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  That would be insane.  I am also not saying Doritos shouldn’t pick commercials that look professional.  All 5 winning ads will eventually air on TV so they MUST be TV quality.  And I in no way feel that t is unfair for people spend a lot of money on their entries.  People who spend more money are taking a big gamble and I admire their dedication.  I have entered the CTSB contest 3 years in a row and one reason I get excited about The Crash is because every year I try and step up my game.  The first HD contest entry I ever shot was for this contest and this year I think my submission was one of the most professional looking videos I’ve ever done.  I personally feel that I am a much better, stronger and more professional filmmaker because every year I challenge myself by entering the Crash the Super Bowl contest.

So my beef is not with the pros who enter this contest.  My beef is with THE SYSTEM that allows the same handful of friends from Southern California to win this contest year after year after year.  Former finalist simply have some kind of advantage,  Think of it this way; For 28 years, from 1980 until 2008 America had either someone named “Bush” or “Clinton” serving in the white  house.  If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency 4 years ago, the order of the presidents for the last 24 years would have been Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.  So ask yourself this question:  Are the Bushes and the Clinton’s the greatest politicians of the modern era?  Or is it more likely that being an incumbent (or being related to a former president) gives one a serious advantage in presidential politics?  What I’m saying is that “politics” may be part of Fritolay’s decision process and that gives former finalists a major leg up on the competition.

CLARIFICATION #2:  No where in this article have I said that I think that past winners of the Crash the Super Bowl contest should be prohibited from entering again.  That would be very difficult to police since people can just enter under a friends name.  But there is no question that Doritos needs to fix this contest so that it more open to the rest of the public. Maybe fritolay should just ASK finalists to take a year off after they make the Top 5.  It would be like an honor-system thing.  But I should note that one former winner of the CTSB contest actually left a comment to this post and implied that he and his family are no longer eligible to enter this contest….probably because he already won the top prize of one million dollars. So apparently, Fritolay has no problem with forcing some contestants to “retire” after winning.

UPDATE #2: Actually, I’m not going to review all 5 winning ads this year. Readers have really been leaving some insightful comments and I want to explore some of the issues they have been bring up. So watch for new posts about the CTSB contest next week.

96 thoughts on “A Crash the Super Bowl Bummer: Three of the five 2012 finalists were made by past winners

  1. Simply as I said in a past comment, pretty much seems like all of the winners of this contest are from Southern California and in the Video Production business every year. The little guys from smaller areas of the country have no chance its seeming. There were for sure more original, creative and entertaining spots in the entrys than most of these finialists.

    If your going to give pro’s instead of up and comming creatives the finalist spots they might as well just hire them and forget the contest. It seems like there just getting ads done one the cheap now instead of paying the ad angencys.

  2. When I go to the Doritos Crash The SuperB Bowl website now the finalist page is blank no videos. They were there earlier.

  3. Hey Beardy,

    As a winner last year, you couldn’t be farther from the truth about the contest. I have to say you do spend a week with the Doritos execs and Goodby, but they don’t talk about the “inside” contest information while you are there. They stay away from talking about the contest besides your role in it. Also I happen to know that there is not a “creative collective” between the finalists. Both guys decided to enter again, and both made great ads. They did so on their own, and had no idea what the others were doing. I happen to also know that Kevin is friends with everyone on his crew. It is LA and your chances of having friends in the industry is pretty high, everyone is in the business here. The truth is quality work gets a chance in the contest. There may be 6,000 entries but only about 60 (and that’s aiming high) are broadcast worthy, entertaining, and understand the brand. that is the simple truth.
    It may be true that being in the contest, and watching the ad meter gives you an advantage, but that is the same advantage a little googling could do. Research the admeter. that is what Doritos is looking for, what will do well. So some ads are good ones, great concept, nice production, and good acting, but if it won’t do well on the admeter (which essentially means on the superbowl) why use it? The contest is designed to “crash the superbowl” meaning beat the ad professionals at their game. this is only achieved by placing well on the meter.

    And Beardy, I have to say, you are also wrong about spending a lot of money. I can let you know personally we don’t. I didn’t spend a lot at all. most of the cost is lighting, the crews usually work for free if they believe in the spot.

    I think you have made some good entries and always compete well in CTSB
    I like your site and have been a fan for a while, but dude you gotta give the contest a break, it is a good contest and people work hard to become a finalist, there is no conspiracy. I also know that Doritos/goodby look at the work before they look at the name attached so there is no funny business.

    Next year I encourage everyone to grab the best people they know, study the meter and go for it.

  4. It doesn’t bother me much that 3 of the finalists are related. Nor does it bother me that that group has advantages and resources. It’s the biggest video contest out there with $1,000,000 up for grabs. If I was Doritos, I would expect everyone to sink some money into their entries too. Nor does it bother me that they rearranged the Finalist page after the fact so that those 3 are the first ones listed from left to right now.

    What bothers me is simply that “Dog Park” and “Hot Wild Girls” aren’t funny. They are not funny. Man’s Best Friend, Sling Baby, and Bird’s of Prey are great so congrats to them!

  5. This is extremely shady and unfair. The thousands of people who spent their time and money (No matter how little or how much they spent) got played! This was a huge misstep on Fritolay’s part. They should be ashamed. Thank you for making this known.

  6. Great post Beardy. I didn’t enter the Crash contest knowing full-well the politics of this thing. And simply put these finalists are terrible. Birds of Prey is okay, but these others are all well-worn, dumb and not very entertaining. If you take a look at the winners from the Chevy contest, those videos/commercials put these 5 to shame.

  7. Joe Herbert here… winner in 2009 with the snow-globe to the groin. I guess you have to win a million dollars to no longer be eligible, because they won’t let us win any more. Which was unfortunate because we killed it last year, but were denied. You could have this article written last year about us, hahahaha.

    There are 5 of us Herbert Brothers… and we can submit spots under each of our names, but that don’t fly either since we’re related. Would have been fun to get multiple spots in the same year, lol.

    The days of the little guys with a zero budget from nowhere, indiana (or your small towns) are coming to a close. Glad we did what we did during the window we did it in. I miss having the chance to compete… maybe we should have came close instead of winning so we can be finalists every year, lol… nah… we’ll take our big win.

    I know Kevin Wilson having met him during my tenure… McManus as well. Super good guys, with a ton of talent (and money and connections) and you can’t blame them, just the system. But one could argue to be the best you should beat the best, and that it gives amateurs a chance to beat pros… not a contest for amateurs to beat other amateurs. Just my two cents… so I don’t have a problem with repeat finalists… but I would agree that each “team” regardless of who submits the video should only be allowed one per year.

    I wish all 5… er 3.. er whatever finalists luck this year. I can’t wait to see what lonely island does.

    Babies and Dogs/Animals people… mostly dogs, but babies and animals are good back up options.

  8. you said it best Beardy “One of the big points of this contest its that it is supposed to help launch a filmmaker’s career. It was never meant to BE a filmmaker’s career.”

    This is an insiders contest now, they disguise it like a competition, but in reality, they are basically waiting for their favorite past finalists to make them another ad and do all the work for them at a fraction of the cost it would take their own agency to produce.

    Glad i didn’t waste my time this year, but it also makes me not want to enter again because I don’t have the necessary “connections” to make it to the finals.

    I also live in Los Angeles, and this contest is now just like Los Angeles, it’s who you know that takes you to the next level.

  9. Dude, you missed it entirely. The judges are obviously a coalition of dogs and babies. They favor ads that feature their “kind” but are easily fascinated by people acting like animals, boobs, and magic and will ALWAYS pick them as finalists.

    How can you be a conspiracy theorist and miss that???

  10. Thanks Beardy for your comprehensive post. Regardless of whether or not the finalists are hob-nobbing with the judges in the sky box at the Super Bowl, the number of former finalists in the finals this year is unseemly for Frito-Lay and the appearance of impropriety should have them running for the hills.

    While props to the former winners for entering with their real names, perhaps it would have been better had they entered under pseudonyms – they could better make the claim that it was the *product* that got them to the finals and not who they are.

    This could be minimized if Frito-Lay just explicitly prohibited any finalists (director/producers) from entering the contest again in any capacity. Wouldn’t be a perfect fix but it would certainly make the playing field more level. Of course Frito-Lay has zero incentive to implement this. Sigh.

    Guess it’s time for me to start attending masses at Mosaic…

  11. Amen, Shane Free:

    “you said it best Beardy “One of the big points of this contest its that it is supposed to help launch a filmmaker’s career. It was never meant to BE a filmmaker’s career.”

    This is an insiders contest now, they disguise it like a competition, but in reality, they are basically waiting for their favorite past finalists to make them another ad and do all the work for them at a fraction of the cost it would take their own agency to produce.”

    Just like all these other video “contests.” Just ways of circumventing traditional avenues. It’s a smart business plan for these companies, but it simply takes advantage of talented people.

    This news is pretty disgraceful. But sadly not surprising.

  12. Beardy – Perhaps you should take your findings to a major platform – LA or NY Times or even Yahoo News.

  13. Personally, I’m not quite convinced that this was a setup. I think that the finalist’s ads were technically well-made, although I didn’t find all of them very funny. I was hoping to have enjoyed them more than I did so that I could be glad I was beaten by the best. But I don’t think they were the best.

    Trying to put myself in the previous finalist’s positions, I think I would have entered again if I thought I had a winning idea, crew, and cast. I also seem to remember you (Beardy) saying in the comments of one of your CTSB posts that this contest doesn’t exclude professionals; it just opens the commercial world to anyone who wants to try. If I had more resources, I’m pretty sure I would invest them again, if given the chance.

    However, I also agree that it’s frustrating to have to compete with a crew of 40 (paid or not, it can be very difficult to come up with that many skilled people, plus feed them and arrange schedules). I will be entering the contest again next year if they have it again, but I’m not really sure what chance I’ll have if I’ve only got $100 to spend.

    The funny thing is, I had gotten to the point where not being a finalist was okay. I didn’t get the call, and I was okay with just leaving it at that. But seeing who DID get the call, and reading about what it took to make their entries just filled me with bitterness. I would have rather not known, especially since there isn’t necessarily any shenanigans taking place. But thank you, Beardy, for taking the time to put together these articles. In many ways, you vented for me, and it felt good to see someone else expressing frustrations that I shared, at least in part. It’s been fun to follow up on the CTSB!

  14. It does smell fishy. My video cost $4.50 for the bag of Doritos, but if you look at it, people would guess a couple of thousand. I was the only crew member and even built my own track for the Canon 60D. I would like to see these guys make something with no budget. Can they light, shoot, edit on a media composer, do after effects, write, makeup etc. I bet you they can’t. The Red camera is really no big deal. I saw it up against a Canon 7d at a video expo and the difference is very little. If you are good at grading you can get it very close. The spot Hot Wild Girls was shot with a DSLR and had zero grading. Damn though chicks were smoking hot! If you have lived long enough you know that life is not fair and we will try again next year.

  15. I made Power Bomb last year, which we thought had a chance, but thought we would lose to Birthday Wish because it was structurally identical, targeted the same market, etc… I don’t think we lost to it because Kevin made Casket the year before, I think we lost to it because Birthday Wish was a better spot. We didn’t spend enough money to support our camera package, so we couldn’t move it the way he could; he had more actors, better production value, better direction, we made a couple mistakes, they didn’t.

    That said, I think you’re way off base here. We didn’t enter this year more so because we didn’t view it as a good opportunity (and because we think should you make the finals, voting is a terrible way of picking which one airs), so I have no skin in this one. But quite frankly, these spots have small things that make them “better” from a Doritos brand perspective. They’re all work, play, or family, they all have proper act structure, they’re a billion little things.

    My personal guess is that they put the top 25 through testing, and then pick the top 5, potentially excluding ones they don’t like for X unchangeable reason, or shaping the field to know exactly which of the 5 will be voted on the most, in essence “picking” the winner themselves. Or who knows, maybe its entirely subjective choice by the CMO.

    Regardless, I honestly think its ridiculous to complain about non-professionals not having a chance. Spots I’ve seen in the past have been done by major VFX companies, and directors rostered at top production companies — and they haven’t won. That you see winners who aren’t more established is a bit surprising.

    There is a tone Doritos wants people to hit, there is a look, and there is a character. If you know how to hit it, you know how to hit it. This contest is not about giving your average person a chance to get a spot on the Superbowl, its about creating brand awareness, and a portal site with 6000 videos which create millions of exposures, and hundreds of thousands of extended brand experiences through the filmmakers and their families.

    The winners are going to be people that know what they’re doing, whether they’re film school students, directors in LA, or copywriters at Ad Agencies who know how to hit a brief — and I cannot take seriously that people in general don’t know thats who they’re up against. There’s nothing disingenuous about this competition.

    Also, you’re a tad obsessed with the Red — you cannot tell after web compression and these days a graded DSLR indoors looks identical to a Red, its only if you’re outside and dealing with dynamic range. It doesn’t cost 1000/day, and frankly, if you know a DP in the LA area, you can get people to come out for a cut of the winnings for free )not to menion most people shoot on Alexa now regardless). If something is going to air on the Superbowl, it has to look GOOD. That that kid with the slap spot aired a few years back, blows my mind, it looked terrible.

    Anyway, I came by here to see your reaction and, I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like the idea of people getting called out like this for taking the time and effort to put together solid spots with no reasonable expectation of reward. I’m not in LA, and know none of these people involved, so this is just my two cents.

  16. All I can say is THANK YOU for posting this. You are right. It all comes down to COLD HARD CASH. It sucks because doritos advertises this contest to average americans and regular, broke people from middle america flush money down the toilet doing videos for this. But they have no idea that spending $2.50 on a bag of dortos isnt enough to “BUY” a spot in the finals.

    If you win this contest once you should be ineligible to enter again. The end. It;s just not fair to everyone else.

  17. Great article. I had a feeling that the finalist would have at least a dog somewhere. But babies too? And office workers? I would say next year I will do a spot with baby office workers playing with puppies but I think this is my last go at any contest. I’m tired of the same old shit winning no matter what contest it is.

    I also figured this year the finalists would have to show something different considering they are going up against Lonely Island. Good luck with that one.

    And no I didn’t think we had a chance at being a finalist but I was hoping those that were going to be a finalist would have had some originality to them. I suppose there is no such thing anymore.

    I quit.

    – Chad

  18. Michael,

    It’s not about “calling out” the filmmakers who made the ads, they did great work. It’s not about pros beating joes, it’s not about great looking, technically well done videos beating subpar videos, It’s not because they shot on the RED, I don’t care how much they spent, or how they allocated their resources, good for them. I have a problem with Doritos selecting the SAME filmmakers every year! 3 of the 5 finalists were finalists before and in some cases multiple times! They have an inside track to the people who run the contest plain and simple, there were 6100 entries, to be a finalist in consecutive years would be nearly impossible! it’s not a level playing field. I have no dog in the race this year, and I love competing with the best talent out there, but this is getting silly.

  19. A few people have mentioned their interest to see the Lonely Island’s commercial at the superbowl, but as the ‘contest updates’ section of the CTSB site says, the Lonely Island has now decided not to make one. I thought it was interesting that 2 finalist videos are now guaranteed to air.

  20. Wow – does the “Behind the Scenes” video that’s coming soon strike anyone else as odd? Wonder if it will be actually populated with behind the scenes footage from the finalist videos; if so that makes me more inclined to believe you Beardy. Not that this is anything new. Some contests will invite (and even fund) entrants from previous years. I guess the lesson is that you just have to assume that’s who you’re up against.

    I’m wondering if putting the Admeter on Facebook will be a game changer. A look at YouTube likes/dislikes of last year’s Superbowl ads played out very differently than the Admeter results:


  21. Don’t become to Red obsessed. Lonely Island shoots on a 5D. Besides in a couple of years soccer moms will be shooting 4k on their cell phones. It’s not the camera or the budget, it’s the talent of the person making the video and the only real test of talent is to make one with zero budget and no crew. I am in the L.A. area and I can tell you that their is tons of people that say they work in production but can’t do simple shit like lighting a scene or running a composer. I have been on film sets and can’t figure out why they need a crew of 100 to film a 30 second commercial. The real bad ass film makers know how to shoot, edit, light etc. It does rub me wrong though that there was three last year winners. If I was Doritos you should only be able to become a finalist once. I know you can’t put your ad from the prior year that you entered. The Baby Sling was very creative and super well done. If I had that idea I could of pulled that off for zero dollars. The sling shot was after effects in front of a green screen with key frames. It was shot in a old house back yard. The kids and grandma were easy to get. I would like to see the raw footage of getting that baby to fly across the green screen.

  22. Wow, I couldn’t believe this about Doritos. Very importnt article. I suggest you try to interest Huffington post, LA Times, and other major publications in this interesting story.. It would benefit the other competitors as well as your website that would get great exposure for exposing this possible FOUL PLAY.

    Keep up the good work!

  23. It’s interesting that CBS has a non-finalist Doritos ad running on their website right now:


    And I love msnbc’s summary of the finalists:

    “We’re not enthralled by any of them in particular, but given how bumbling bros and bimbos always seem to register with viewers, we see great things for the “Hot Wild Girls” entry.”


  24. The finalists go to the same church! WTF? Doritos is in some serious trouble here, folks. I saw better spots on that site. I was certainly more impressed than this.

  25. Hey Beardy,

    First of all, I appreciate your site and religiously read it for updates and insights.

    FYI, I am the stunt coordinator of those spots you mentioned. Over the last two years I stunt coordinated several others spots I directed two. I also attend Mosaic.

    I don’t understand your negative commentary. Is it surprising that friends work together over the years? Is it surprising that Los Angeles has a higher quantity and quality of artists and filmmakers? Is it surprising that some people get their community from church while others from sports or bars or film festivals? Is it surprising that there is so much passion for Doritos’ contest or the chance to win $1M? Is it surprising that alliances would be made with people who have more experience? Is it surprising that a team that won $25K or even $1M would try to win again?

    Perhaps there are other reasons for someone to finance a contest spot than the reasons you have thought of. Perhaps a startup film company with newly purchased gear was interested in a project that excited people to work for cheap that would begin to build their experience, their knowledge of that gear, and their relationships as part of a team. Perhaps there are people who want to invest in a person they like and trust and when their investment gets recouped one year are willing to risk again. Perhaps $3000 isn’t too expensive for some people to make a spot when the prize is so great. I risked $2700 personally on my first spot because it was fun and challenging and I believed my idea was competitive at the time. I shot on a 5D, not a RED, and only paid one person $200, the rest was food, gear and location. My next spot I spent $1000 and didn’t put as much effort into it because I didn’t believe as strongly in my script. I could have spent way less on these spots and worn more hats, but I wanted to be competitive and had the resources. Why shouldn’t I risk more since the reward is so great? This isn’t Pop Tent.

    Perhaps there are other reasons why a filmmaker might not put his name on a spot he directed than the reasons you have thought of. Perhaps that filmkaker hoped to have more than one spot chosen by Doritos and/or Pepsi and not be disqualified because he worked on both. Perhaps that filmmaker had flawed logic on what the Doritos client is looking for and what can influence their decision, such as number of comments. Four years ago, before Kevin ever made a spot, there was a producer we know who made two spots and Doritos liked them both but would only take one with his name on it and he had the painful decision to choose one director and leave the other director out in the cold.

    You are the most genius and strategic of all these filmmakers, and it comes out of your generosity. You chose to make your knowledge available for free. Over the years you have built a loyal following. This following helps you win voting contests and attract advertisers. Your advice is helpful to me as a video contest competitor but your best guess of the top five CTSB each year is never 100% so therefore your advice and opinion is not 100%. But your commentaries are always interesting and insightful.

    As a stunt performer, stunt coordinator and director with a mechanical engineer background, I fell in love with making movies and enjoy the work even if I don’t get paid. I enjoy applying my God given talents and skills as a specialty that other filmmakers don’t have. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have chosen to attend and volunteer at Mosaic, a spiritual community in Los Angeles that patronizes the arts and artists. I believe Jesus calls me to the highest standard of artistic excellence. It has been a pleasure to express my creativity and give my best to various Doritos CTSB teams and other projects over the years.

    In response to your three explanations to how “broken” the CTSB contest has become, I don’t deny all your suspicions, but I do know; 1) these filmmakers that I have worked with are pretty great people, but are not yet commercially successful; 2) God does not show favoritism, but excellence does get rewarded in general; 3) there are insights past winners receive because Doritos works with them on PR, etc, but if anybody wants to contact them, I’m pretty confident they’d all share with you what they learned from what I’ve witnessed and heard.

    In response to your reasons why being a finalist one year gives a huge edge the next year; 1) when you’re in a big market with lots of independent RED owners, there are lots of deals to be made especially with speculative back end participation, plus didn’t the Herbert Brothers come from a tiny town and spend lots of money? I personally know all three Mosaic member teams did not use the same gear and that the ideas were hashed out with a team of writers and then the execution was figured out using available resources; 2) Doritos tried to level the expertise playing field last contest year by hosting open forums where they could hear and meet the client and founder of the contest and mingle with other winning filmmakers. Also, most of the people who slap a spot together with their Flip camera are doing it for the fun of it to share with their family. And didn’t one spot air one year that only cost $50, the kid slapping his mom’s date? 3) It’s surprising to me how little the Herber Brothers or Kevin’s careers blossomed since airing. It’s still hard work and networking and overcoming the believe that you can’t make more than once winning spot again and you are sill an amateur. The ad agencies still don’t want to let unproven outsiders in. This year has the added prize of the possibility of getting hired to do another spot; that’s worth more than money to a career that is reluctant to take off despite various contest wins. Didn’t the Herbert Brothers win and/or enter three years? 4) Kevin has now made seven spots in three years. The spots he thought would get picked were not picked for whatever reason, but he made multiple spots using multiple strategies to try win over the client and brand. If any Fritolay or Goodby/Silverstein gave anyone anything extra there would be so many lawsuits it’s not funny to even suggest. Also, I think the judges change each year.

    In regard to the two new finalists getting screwed, I’d argue the opposite because the three somewhat Mosaic related groups of friends now have split loyalties since they can only vote for one and their friends and families can only vote for one. I worked on two spots and am stuck in the unenviable position of choosing to support one over the other or diluting my vote between the two of them.

    Your state that the odds of winning are 1 in 1220, but that’s only true if it were a random lottery and had nothing to do with content or quality. This contest is crazy hard because you have three audiences to please, the client which likes spots that make fun of men and have physical comedy, the viral voting which has little to do with content, and the Ad Meter which is a broad range of ages and loves dogs and babies, and requires the laughs to start immediately and sustain through jokes or suspense all the way to the end. How many spots accomplished that?

    But you do make some interesting observations of the facts which may lead to changes in CTSB. You have a right to your opinions, but you also have a lot to be grateful for without belittling any other filmmakers.

    Ian Eyre

  26. Mans best friend was made for only $20. According to their website (which is hilarious btw.) mansbestfriendcommercial.com

  27. What would people be saying if finalist from American Idol or any of those shows came back as finalist year after year? Not saying never again but points were made in the fact that these same parties are coming in year after year. I did one on short budget, but still came out decent. Lighting was the only draw back but not too obvious. We did one of the chip offs.


    Beardy’s note: Last year the filmmaker who left this comment did something that I felt was unethical and I posted about. He didn’t like being exposed so he started harassing me and started a blog of his own just to attack me. His Crash the Super Bowl commercial last year featured the same actor that appeared in “Birthday Wish” so I’m guessing he knows the Mosaic team. So now he’s back to harass me again. Readers of VCN are free to disagree with me and share different opinions. But flat out insults and harassment are not tolerated.

    To Mr. Jessup. Please do not try and contact me again in the future. Your e-mail address and IP have been “blacklisted” which means wordpress will automatically delete future comments.

  29. All I hear is whine whine whine…

    I did not submit a spec, but am shocked that people are being so rude. Who cares who made the ads? Bottom line is that they look good and they did a great job. If you can’t handle it, don’t enter the contest.

    Now go get a tissue, wipe those tears off your face and put all of the effort you’re making on here to justify your loss into making some other great videos!

  30. Crew member from the $1,000,000 winning ad ‘Pug Attack’ from last year chiming in: I also go to Mosaic.

    It’s not a conspiracy, it’s called Los Angeles, where the film industry is. Everyone and their brother works in the industry in some way out here, and there are a TON of people at Mosaic that do it. We talk about it to each other, and even develop a friendly competitive nature amongst ourselves about it. People out here invest heavily into this contest. You have to remember: people out here are accustomed to spending between $50-$100k on a thesis film to graduate, after having spent tens of thousands already for schooling, and that doesn’t get them anything in return. How is it so hard to believe they would spend $3k when they is a chance to win $1m?

  31. Hey’ Douglas Jessup

    Beardy makes some very valid arguments. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck odds are its a duck.

    Funny thing is I commented a month ago to beardy about how its seems like most of the finalist are from LA and have been the same guys. This was before the finalist this year were even chosen. So it became even more ironic when this years finalist were announced it only confirmed what I had already thought.

    Just because these LA guys are pro’s and make the finals does’t mean there work is better and has higher quality, or as you say Best Wins. I would go out on a line and say that most people wouldn’t think that these 5 finalist were the 5 best out of the 6k.

  32. Close friend of Adam, crew member from $1M winning “Pug Attack” from last year AND ex-classmate of the Director and Producer of “Pug Attack” AND friend of lead actor from “Dog Park” AND roommate of DP from “Bird of Prey” ALSO, I key gripped Doug’s spot that you so heavily hated on last year, chiming in.

    I don’t go to Mosaic, but many of my friends do.

    You get the point? People in LA do this for a living, or at least are trying to get their big break. Therefore, they invest in these things and generally have better skills, experience, and resource than the rest of the country. It’s a pretty tight world out here of people that enjoy working together. Also, as noted many times before, they all nailed the holy trinity of mass media: babies, dogs, moment of impact.

    I guess the circles we run in just know how to make that paper paper.

    That, or Mosaic owns FritoLay. It’s all possible.

  33. According to their website, the lead actor of Man’s Best Friend is the Drama Director at a CHURCH!

    What is going on here???!!!! Jesus!


    p.s. Bird of Prey wasn’t shot on a RED camera. It was his personal DSLR.

  34. Beardy,

    I sincerely appreciate you writing this article in a critical yet objective manner! You broached some interesting points that might prove to be the downfall of the entire contest (if they aren’t already). To uphold the credibility of this competition, I recommend Frito Lay regulate how often previous winners can enter. I’m sure this is not an uncommon practice with other competitions.

    The day that an up-and-coming filmmaker feels that he doesn’t have a shot is the day that this contest dies.

  35. I think that Frito-lay should run two seperate divisions of the contest one for professionals who do this for a living already. And another for for true amatuers/Up and commers.

    And like most yearly contest if you win one time then you should become uneligable after that. This would take away alot of the problems that are seeming to show up now.

  36. I put a link to this article on the comments of the Doritos facebook page on there enrty today about the finalist and it got removed within a half hour.

  37. I should clarify, when I said, “do this for a living” I meant, we bust our asses to get work in a super cut throat industry that is often very unfair. We take free gigs, low paying gigs, shameful gigs, to make ends meet not knowing how to make rent half the time.

    What I should have said was that we have seen what does and doesn’t work first hand from being on different sets in various positions.

    That helps.

    None of the submitters in question are “successful” established directors. They are all “up-and-coming” and just trying to make it.

  38. I think people visiting here do get that people in LA do this for a living (and so it’s not surprising to see high quality entries (and winners) coming from the region); the issue is that the same NAMES keep coming up again and again. Not that that’s their fault – the winners this year are taking advantage of the fact that there’s no prohibition against them re-entering, something which is well within their right to do. What’s hard to swallow is that, in a large and diverse field populated with many high quality entries (yes, not all 6000 but I’d guess at least a few hundred or so) that 60% of the finalists are repeat winners. 60%. That’s pretty high and certainly LOOKS like favoritism.

    People just want to know if the contest is fair i.e if the judging is really blind and if who’s entering matters. I agree with Michael that I’m guessing they focus-test the sh*t out of their finalists to come up with winners, and if so then there’s not really an issue – the people commenting here saying that these filmmakers know the brand and nailed it would be right, hands down. But I think the whole issue is that it’s hard to know that for sure. It sure looks like favoritism – I hope Frito-Lay responds to this claim; otherwise it casts the whole contest under a cloud of suspicion.

    Maybe the most disappointing thing about the whole contest is that the previous winners haven’t been able to parlay their winning into commercial success. If they had, odds are they wouldn’t be entering.

  39. Right on TVB, well said. It is favoritism and kills the whole spirit of the contest. Maybe Beardy can write a letter to Frito Lay and he can post it on the site. That would ease the pain for everybody that worked their asses off. Mega church people creep me out!

  40. One whamburger with a side of french cries. ORDER UP


    BEARDY’S NOTE: Originally this brief comment was left by someone who just called himself “Matt.” A general note: If you want to try and leave an insult here at least be a man and post your full name or explain what your beef is.

    About two hours ago I had to ban an (alleged) plagiarist named Douglas Jessup from leaving comments here. Jessup has become obsessed with me I guess and he waited a whole year just so he could come to VCN today and take some shots at me. Last year he shot I told him to stop harassing me and not to contact me again.

    Jessup was (and I guess still is) upset because last year I did an article that pointed out that his 2011 Crash the Super Bowl entry seemed to be a (very well made) rip off a Skittles commercial. You can compare the two commercials here:


    Since Jessup is banned from leaving comments I guess he got this Matt giovingo guy to come here and stir up trouble. I googled him and it turns out he helped create “The Soprano Dorito” which is the CTSB entry that SEEMED to be based on Skittle’s “Singing Rabbit” ad.

  41. I was a finalist 2 years ago. I did not enter this year but I’m appalled at what I’m discovering here. I know for a fact there was a spot in this years competition called DORITO TRIANGLE V1 that was superior to every single one of these finalists. It’s obvious the judging was rigged. This is awful and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  42. SB27 you are correct. DORITO TRIANGLE V1 is the best entry ever. It is perfect in every sense. DORITO TRIANGLE V1 looks like some big bucks were spent. I think there is copyright problems with Elvis. Anytime you use the King you have to buy his image from the Elvis estate. If this aired Doritos would be in a monster lawsuit unless they paid the estate. They should of made a chracter up like a Roswell space alien, which have zero copyright. We should all try to get this quality.

  43. Just saying if enough people think it is rigged for any reason they may ban together and have this investigated. That is why lottery’s have laws so this does not happen and everyone has a fair shot. If what you say is truly the facts and more people read this then don’t be surprised if they feel they should have as sort of apology from Frito-Lay or compensation.. Out of over 6,000 submissions, 3 of them are from the same area, some at the same church. I wonder how they can sleep at night and still wear their Sunday clothes assuming that you spoke the truth. Someone’s gotta be the bigger person, and letting things like this go, just create a world that is not fun to live in..the reason life is unfair is our own fault and just saying life is unfair isn’t good enough…people need to take personal accountability including Frito-Lay.

  44. Rob, SB27 & Beardy,

    We are the producers of Dorito Triangle V1. Thank you for your comments. We had a blast making it. Rob, we did obtain proper clearance from the Presley Estate but we were never contacted by Frito Lay for releases (because we obviously weren’t selected as finalists). We’ve been flooded with calls and e-mails for the past 24 hours. People are in shock at what’s going on behind the scenes at Frito Lay. Our issue isn’t that we weren’t selected but how “dirty” the politics are. Thank you for writing this article and all of you who supported our efforts.






    Beardy’s Note: Only I’m allowed to swear like crazy on VCN. Everyone else has to earn that right. So the swear words in this comments have been censored. I will leave the spelling errors un-corrected though.

Comments are closed.