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The 2016 Crash the Super Bowl contest is closed. Now I want to see your entries!

crash_the_superbowlThe deadline for the final installment of Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest is tonight.  Did you shoot an entry this year?  If so, I’d like to see it!  Every year I offer an open-review period for VCN fans.  If you post a link to your entry I will watch it and give you a short, honest, un-biased review.  This is a chance for you to get some feedback from someone who isn’t you best friend or mom.  If you shot an amazing entry, I will tell you so.  And if you’re entry isn’t so great, well, I’ll try and explain why it doesn’t work for me.  Here’s how to get one of my free reviews:

Step 1:  Leave a comment on this article and post your link.  Please do not post other people’s ads.  If you didn’t help make it, I can’t review it for you.

Step 2:  Within 24 hours, I’ll watch your entry and I will post a review right below your comment.  (That means I may alter the timestamp on some comments so that the order goes link, review, link, review, link review…)  Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear right away; first-time commenters needed to be approved before their comment goes live.

Step 3:  If you’d like to show your appreciation for the review, all I ask is that you follow VCN on twitter:

Last year I wrote about 100 reviews and it really took a toll on my brain.  So this year I will only do reviews for 8 days.  If you send me your link between now and November 23rd I promise to write a review.  One more thing: I can’t do private reviews so please don’t email me links.  Good luck everybody!  I can’t wait to see your cheesy masterpieces.


November 24th Update:

OK FOLKS, REVIEW TIME IS OVER FOR 2015! Thanks to everyone who sent me links. Some comments got stuck in my spam filter but I think I found them all. So if your link was missing, go back and see if it’s been added. If I missed your entry, please leave a comment and let me know.


Will views and votes help you make the Crash the Super Bowl finals?

Crash the Super Bowl season (much like the Christmas season) seems to get longer every year.  It’s already November 3rd but the Doritos deadline is still 11 days away.  The season may be longer this time but the contest is progressing as it always does.  Every year in late October/early November I start seeing news stories like this:


Click this image to watch the news story

I’ll probably get a dozen google alerts for stories like that this month.  For reasons I’ve never fully understood, some filmmakers try and get “press” for their Crash the Super Bowl ads.  I think these stories happen because a lot of people don’t understand how the Crash the Super Bowl contest actually works.  The local news segments usually end with a “call to action” from the anchor; he or she will say something like “and if you want to help these young filmmakers make it to the finals you can head to and watch their entry and rate it five stars.”

Those calls to action always bug me because they show that the filmmakers (and the journalists who wrote the story) were too lazy to read the CTSB rules:  Here are the judging criteria for this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest:


Notice that it doesn’t say anything about views or ratings?  I suppose Point #3 could be interpreted to mean views and votes but that interpretation would be wrong.  (Frito-Lay uses focus group testing to determine an ad’s public appeal)  For the record, views, votes and ratings do not “count” and they will NOT help a CTSB entry make it to the finals.  In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret; the CTSB judges don’t watch the entries on the contest website!  So they have no idea how many views or votes an entry has.

But like I said, that piece of info isn’t public knowledge.  The folks at Frito-Lay fully realize that hundreds of filmmakers desperately try and get views and 5-star ratings every year but no one from the company ever tries to correct the misunderstanding.  And I think that’s because Frito-Lay wants people to be confused.  Consider this: if views and ratings are meaningless, why does the website keep track of them?  The team that built must have realized that if they put a star-rating option, and if they ranked videos by views and votes, a lot of people would assume that views and votes mattered.  And when a filmmaker shares his entry on facebook (or on the Channel 2 news) they are giving Doritos free exposure.  A crappy, homemade Doritos commercial is still a Doritos commercial.  Maybe your Aunt Linda will remember your ad the next time she’s at the grocery store and the memory will inspire her to pick up a bag of Cool Ranch.

So if you’ve been worrying about your ad’s score or view count you can relax.  Those metrics are totally and completely meaningless.  Voting only matters after the finalists have been announced in January.  If you need more proof just watch some of the Highest Rated and Most Viewed entries on the Crash the Super Bowl site.  Do you really think any of those commercials deserve to air during the Super Bowl?

Anti-Gay idiots are boycotting Doritos and the Crash the Super Bowl contest

Taste the Rainbow

Taste the Rainbow!

In 2012 Mike Huckabee was a semi-serious contender for the republican nomination.  But people aren’t really buying his God-Guns-Grits-and-Gravy shtick anymore.  Huckabee is once again running for president but this time he’s polling at just 3%.  Desperate times call for desperate measures so Huckabee is trying to stay relevant (or at least on TV) by picking a fight over a few thousand bags of rainbow colored Doritos.

Huckabee (who seems like more a pork rind man) is upset because Frito-Lay teamed up with the It Gets Better Project which supports LGBT youth.  If you donated $10 the company would send you a bag of super-limited edition Rainbow Doritos.  (The bags have all been claimed but you can still donate here.)  It was a cute little stunt that was meant to help a very worthy cause but gays are icky so Huckabee is calling on Christians to boycott all Frito-Lay products.

Of course Huckabee can’t come right out and tell people to boycott a company that wants to keep gay teenagers from committing suicide.  So he’s using sex columnist Dan Savage as an excuse.  Savage and his husband created the first “It Gets Better” video in 2010.  Dan Savage has said some pretty gross (but insightful and funny) stuff about hardcore anti-gay Christian politicians like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. So Huckabee sent a letter to Frito-Lay’s board of directors that said, in part:

“It is beyond me to understand how a responsible corporation would think that partnering with someone who spews the vicious vitriol that Savage does would be worthy of your corporate contributions.”

He went on to say that the board should listen to this (NSFW!) audio clip and decide if Savage represents their company’s values.  And if they still want to work with It Gets Better then “the Christian community needs to be made aware that Frito-Lay has decided to not seek their business.”

But the Dan Savage stuff is just a smokescreen.  It Gets Better was inspired by Savage’s video but the project has taken on a life of its own.  It’s now a major charitable organization and I don’t think Dan Savage actually has much to do with how it’s run.

Huckabee’s fans clearly understand that this boycott isn’t really about one guy.  These people knew Huckabee wanted to punish a company for putting a rainbow on their bag.  So a few hundred slacktavists jumped on facebook and started posting a bunch of hateful stuff about gays on Doritos’ facebook page.  Doritos keeps posting about the Crash the Super Bowl contests so these posts are being targeted by nutballs who hate Dan Savage the fact that gay people exist.  So posts like this….


Are filled with comments like these…


I have to hand it to Doritos.  No pun intended but it’s pretty bold to leave all these ugly comments on their facebook page.  All this hate demonstrates exactly why we still need organizations like It Gets Better.

As for the Crash the Super Bowl contest, I doubt any of this garbage will have much of an effect on it.  The people making jokes about “gayritos” and “queer commercials” probably don’t have the brain power necessary to create a decent 30 second ad.  Plus slacktavists have really short memories.  A lot of these folks will probably forget all about their “BOYCOTT!!!!!” in a few weeks.


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.

Here are all 46 Crash the Super Bowl finalists from the past 10 years!

Making the Crash the Super Bowl finals is one of the hardest accomplishments in the world of filmmaking.  This year there were 8,061 short film submitted to Sundance and 60 shorts made the final cut.  That means your odds of being selected for the most prestigious film festival in the country are 1 in 134 (0.7%.)  But last fall Doritos received more than 4,900 Crash the Superbowl entries and only 10 of those ads made it to the finals.  So your chances of making the Top 10 were just 1 in 490 (0.2%.)  And this year it’s going to be even harder to make the finals because this time the judges will only be picking THREE finalists.

So if you want to go all the way you’re going to have to work your ass off.  And the road to victory begins with RESEARCH.  Before you schedule a brainstorming session or write a single line of dialogue you should watch and analyze all the CTSB finalists from the past 10 years.  Watching these commercials will show you exactly the type of ads that the judges like.  So I’ve done something that literally no one else has ever done; I’ve compiled a list of all 46 ads that have made the CTSB finals since the contest was launched in 2005.  If I tried to embed 46 youtube videos in one post my site would probably crash so instead of videos I’ve posted screen shots of each entry. If you’d like to watch the actual ad on youtube just click the screenshot.


2014 – 2015 finalists:

The judges usually pick 5 finalists but last year they picked 10.  The quality in this set of finalists is really all over the place.  Some ads are actually kinda bad and they really didn’t deserve to make the finals.  Frito-Lay made a big deal about the contest “going global” so they had to pick a few token international entries even if those ads weren’t as good as the finalists from the US.  I also suspect that the judges picked a few gross ads just to try and generate a little lowest-common-denominator social media buzz.  So take this set of semi-finalists with a grain of salt.


Middle Seat (USA)

Middle Seat.  Aired during the 2015 Super Bowl. WINNER: One Million dollar grand prize.

When Pigs Fly

When Pigs Fly.  Aired during the 2015 Super Bowl. WINNER: $500,000 2nd place prize.


Doritos Angler. CTSB IX finalist.

Baby's First Words (USA)

Baby’s First Word.  CTSB IX finalist.

Selfish Sneezers (USA)

Selfish Sneezers.  CTSB IX finalist.

Lemonade Stand (USA)

Lemonade Stand.  CTSB IX finalist.

Trouble in the Backseat (USA)

Trouble in the Backseat.  CTSB IX finalist.

Miss-spelling Bee (USA)

Miss-spelling Bee.  CTSB IX finalist.

What could go Wrong? (USA)

What could go Wrong?  CTSB IX finalist.

Doritos Manchild

Doritos Manchild.  CTSB IX finalist.

2013 – 2014 finalists:

time machine

Time Machine.  Aired during the 2014 Super Bowl. WINNER: One Million dollar grand prize.

Cowboy Kid

Cowboy Kid. Aired during the 2014 Super Bowl. $50,000 2nd Place Winner.

Breakroom Ostritch

Breakroom Ostrich. CTSB VIII finalist.

Office Thief

Office Thief.  CTSB VIII finalist.


Finger Cleaner. CTSB VIII finalist.

2012 – 2013 finalists:

Goat 4 Sale

Goat 4 Sale.  Aired during the 2013 Super Bowl.  1st Place WINNER.

Fashionista Daddy

Fashionista Daddy. Aired during the 2013 Super Bowl. Runner-Up.

Road Chip

Road Chip. Aired during the Super Bowl. Runner-Up.

Express Checkout

Express Checkout. CTSB VII finalist.


Fetch. CTSB VII finalist.


2011 – 2012 finalists:

Man’s Best Friend. Aired During the 2012 Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar Ad Meter bonus.

Sling Baby. Aired During the 2012 Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar Facebook poll bonus

Bird of Prey.  CTSB VI finalist.

Dog Park. CTSB VI finalist.

Hot Wild Girls.  CTSB VI finalist.

2010 – 2011 finalists:

Pug Attack. Aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar Ad Meter bonus.

The Best Part. CTSB V finalist. Aired during the 2011 Super Bowl.

Adam and Eve. CTSB V finalist.

Birthday Wish. CTSB V finalist.

House Sitting. Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: $400,000 ad meter bonus

2009 – 2010 finalists:

Underdog. Aired during the 2010 Super Bowl. WINNER: $600,000 Ad Meter bonus.

Snack Attack Samurai. CTSB IV finalist. Aired during the 2010 Super Bowl.

The Smackout. CTSB IV finalist.

Casket. CTSB IV finalist. Aired during the 2010 Super Bowl.

House Rules. CTSB IV finalist. Aired during the 2010 Super Bowl.

Kids These Days. CTSB IV finalist.

2008 – 2009 finalists:

Free Doritos. Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar Ad Meter bonus.

The Power of the Crunch. CTSB III finalist. -Also Aired During the 2009 Super bowl.

New Flavor Pitch. CTSB III finalist.

The Chase. CTSB III finalist.

Too Delicious. CTSB III finalist.

NOTE: Doritos did not run a commercial contest in 2008-2009. Instead, CTSB II was a music-themed contest.

2006 – 2007 finalists:

Live the Flavor. WINNER. Aired during the 2007 Super Bowl.

Checkout Girl. CTSB I finalist. -Aired during the 2007 Super Bowl.

Mousetrap. CTSB I finalist. -Aired a year later during the 2008 Super Bowl.

A Chip Lover’s Dream. CTSB I finalist.

Duct Tape. CTSB I finalist.

Doritos announces the FINAL installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest!


After nine years, 8 installments, 32,000 entries and $7,000,000 in prizes, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo have finally decided to retire the Crash the Super Bowl contest….after they run it just one more time!  Here’s what Frito-Lay’s VP of marketing Jeff Klein said about the company’s plans for 2016:

“We’re giving consumers one last shot to make their mark and see their homemade ads air during the Super Bowl broadcast,” J, said in a statement. “This is truly last call for all of those who not only want a shot at $1 million — but want a chance to jump-start their career in Hollywood.”

Frito-Lay claims that this will be the “most audacious” installment yet but it seems like they’ve actually scaled back the promotion this year.  Doritos usually picks 5 finalists and gives them each $25,000 and sends them to the Super Bowl.  Then Doritos airs at least two fan-made ads and the directors win either $1,000,000 (if they won the online voting) or $500,000 (if their ad was picked by the judges).  But this year there will only be 3 finalists and only one of their ads will make it to air.

But there is some good news here; this year there will be 50 semi-finalists and each one of them will $2,000.  I think that’s a great way to spread the fun (and wealth) around a little.  The finalists are getting bigger prizes too.  Instead of $25,000, the two non-winning finalists will recive $100,000 a piece.  And finally the grand prize winner will a get million bucks PLUS they’ll be offer an “epic gig” working with Zach Snyder, DC comics and Warner Brothers.

Because this is sorta the 10th anniversary of the CTSB contest (it was first launched in the fall of 2006) I had a feeling Doritos would be retiring the promotion this year.  Consumer-Generated content just isn’t as raw and exciting as it used to be.  Nine years ago it was big news that an “average Joe” would get to see his commercial air during the Super Bowl.  But we live in a viral culture now and we’re all used to the idea that some regular guy or gal from Nowheresville, Oklahoma can be a “star.”  Plus technology has advanced a lot in 10 years and some homemade ads look just as good as “real” TV commercials.  So the cutesy, low-budget gimmick became irrelevant a long time ago.

But ultimately it was probably money that killed the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  This year CBS is raising the price of 30-second Superbowl ads from $4.5 Million to $5 to $6 Million a piece.  It’s just too risky for FritoLay to buy $12,000,000 of ad time and then HOPE that they get at least two great, Super Bowl-worthy ads every year.

So it’s kinda too bad that the contest is ending but I do think that Frito-Lay made the right call.  I also think it was a genius move to announce the end of the contest before running the final installment.  The last CTSB contest ever is going to garner a huge amount of attention and I think the competition this year will be fierce.

The Crash the Super Bowl rules are already up and it looks like the site is actually excepting entries.  But I’d hold off on shooting anything for now.  You’ve got a long, long time to get your ideas ready; the deadline for entries is November 15th, which, according to the little counter at the top of the contest site, is 66 days, 2 hours and 20 minutes from now:

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