5 unwritten rules of the Crash the Super Bowl contest

It seems like the vast majority of people who enter the Crash the Super Bowl contest never bother to read the rules.  Over the past 6 years I’ve watched thousands of homemade Doritos ads and I’m constantly amazed by the flagrant rule violations I see.

But the official rules aren’t the only criteria you need to worry about.  You also need to comply with the un-written rules of the contest.  For instance, “sexy” Super Bowl ads have really fallen out of fashion.  The CTSB rules don’t explicitly say that your entry should be PG-rated but it’s been 6 years since Doritos picked a finalist that included a scantily clad character.  Technically you CAN feature a little sexual content or innuendo in your video but history shows us that an entry like this will have almost zero chance of making it to the finals:



That wasn’t the slickest or wittiest CTSB ad I’ve ever seen but I gotta admit, it make me laugh.  But entries need to be funny AND good for all ages.  Here now are 4 more common Crash the Super Bowl mistakes that you should avoid this year:

Cultural Insensitivity:  The rules state that entries “must not contain defamatory statements or messages (including but not limited to words, images, or symbols) that are widely considered offensive to individuals of a certain race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic or other group.”   So entries that are straight-up racist will be disqualified.  But you also need to worry about creating something that might offend people in more subtle ways.  Everyone knows that blackface is wrong but it’s always a bad idea to cast actors of one race or culture to play characters from a different race or culture.  This entry will demonstrate what I’m talking about:




The director of this ad cast a group of blonde white kids to play a tribe of spear-wielding savages.  The kids’ costumes resemble the clothing and facepaint that some tribes of the Amazon use.  (The aerial shot of the jungle even looks like the Amazon.)  The people who created this entry would probably argue that this story takes place in a fantasy world and that the kids do not represent any real life people.  But the winner of this contest doesn’t get an extra 60 seconds of air time to explain his concept.  So before you shoot an idea you need to ask yourself “could this commercial offended anyone, anywhere in the entire world?”  I know that might sound extreme but you’re not making a short film here; you’re making a TV commercial.  If you want to get edgy or push boundaries you should entry SXSW, not the CTSB contest.

BLOOD!!  BLOOD EVERYWHERE!!:  I would estimate that Doritos will receive at least 200 zombie-themed commercials this year.  But entries like this one will quietly be disqualified because they’re too gory to air…


That wasn’t exactly a masterpiece but I wanted to feature this ad for a reason.  Teenager filmmakers usually try and come up with an idea that will be cheap to make and that can feature all of their friends.  And that’s why Doritos gets dozens and dozens of zombie videos every year.  But most teenagers aren’t highly-skilled make up artists so when they want to dress up like zombies they just put on some old clothes and slather themselves in halloween make up and fake blood.

But here’s the problem, you can’t really show blood in TV commercials anymore.  Even movie trailers have to desaturate blood so that it looks like brown gravy.  So even though the rules don’t mention blood, the judges know that the network can’t air a bloody commercial during the Super Bowl.

Overloading your ad: Writing a tight, funny, exciting, interesting story that’s only 30 seconds long is really freakin’ hard.  A lot of CTSB filmmakers try and jam way too much stuff into their entries; and by “stuff” I mean story, characters, jokes and action.  These overloaded ads zip by way too fast and leave the viewer dizzy and confused.  Here’s an entry with a funny premise but it’s so busy and overwhelming that it should come with a seizure warning.



A professional editor probably would have cut out the first 6 seconds of this ad so that the later shots could have some time to breath.  If you feel like your entry might be too busy, show it to some friends and ask if it went by too fast.  If it’s too fast for your friends, it’s too fast for TV.

Dipping Doritos:  Ok, this final mistake is a little more obscure but I do see it a few times a year.  Apparently there are actually people out there who don’t understand how to eat Doritos because some Crash the Super Bowl ads include jokes about dip…..



For the love of God people, you don’t dip Doritos!  Doritos are already delicious on their own!  The rules don’t say that you can’t dip  these chips but Frito-Lay would never air a commercial that advocated this type of snack abuse.

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