Doritos announced 50 (surprisingly decent!) Crash the Super Bowl Semi-Finalists

Doritos-semi-finalistsThis year Doritos received more than 4,500 entries for the Crash the Super Bowl contest and on December 1st the judges over at Frito-Lay whittled that number down to 50 Semi-Finalists.  50 may seem like a big number and it is; last year there were only 25 semi-finalists.  But since this is the final CTSB contest and since 2016 marks the company’s 50th anniversary the sponsors decided to go big and pick 50 ads for the next round of judging.  In January, the judges will pick just 3 finalists and then a few weeks of public voting will commence.  The ad that gets the most votes will win a million bucks and air during the Super Bowl.  The other two finalists will each receive $100,000.  The 47 Semi-Finalists who don’t make the Top 3 will receive $2,000 a piece.

I’ve watched all 50 Semi-Finalists and I’m very impressed with the judges picks this year.  Last year’s slate of Semi-Finalists included some real clunkers.  It seemed like the judges intentionally some gross or sexy ads because they wanted to milk some extra views from videos that had no chance of making the finals.  But this time around it seems like the judges really wanted to target millennials.  A lot of the entries feature the quick cuts and tongue-in-cheek absurdist humor that you’ll see in a lot of popular Vines or Youtube videos.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  Over the last few years I’ve seen at least a dozen entries that used the title “Paranormal Snacktivity” but this is the first one that actually made me laugh:

I thought that was pretty great.  In any other year I would say this entry was a shoo-in for the finals.  But I think at least 40% of the Semi-Finalists are good enough to make it to the Top 3.  Here are a few other entries that I really enjoyed.  The first one is probably my favorite….

I went though all the semi-finalists and I jotted down some raw data.  Here are some random factoids:

  • 45 of 50 semi-finalists are men
  • 5 of 50 semi-finalists are women
  • 41 of 50 semi-finalists are from the USA
  • 9 of 50 semi-finalists are from other countries
  • 4 semi-finalists are from Australia
  • Israel, Canada, Romania, Denmark and the Netherlands each had one semi-finalist.

One more fun fact:  As far as I can tell, only ONE past finalist made it to the semi-finals this year.  The one repeater I spotted is Jonathan Friedman.  In 2012 his Doritos ad Man’s Best Friend aired during the Super Bowl and won the million dollar grand prize.  Usually I’m kind of critical of past winners who enter the contest again but since this is the final Crash I figure all bets are off.  Plus this director happened to make my favorite ad in the Top 50 (the one with the guy who faints when he sees Doritos.)  I’m sure some other past finalists made the cut so if anyone recognizes any names, please let me know.

This year it’s going to tough to predict which ads will make the finals but I’ll post my picks for the Top 3 later this month.  Feel free to share your own thoughts about the semi-finalists in the comment section below!

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.


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:

Mofilm honors their Chicago winners with awards, music, good times and shrimp!

The 2015 Mofilm Chicago winners show off their whale tails

Mofilm’s annual pre-Lollapalooza awards dinner has become one of my favorite mid-summer traditions.  (It’s right up there with Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana!)  I’ve never actually won a prize in this particular contest but I live in the Chicago area and every year the nice folks at Mofilm remember to send me an invite.  I’ve been to this dinner three times now and 2015 was definitely the best year yet.  As always the party took place in a private room overlooking the Chicago river at Smith and Wollensky.  That’s a fancy-shamncy spot but team Mofilm hooked me up with a +2 so I actually got to bring some friends along.  And when I walked in I was surprised to see real-life friend of VCN, Joel Levinson.  It turns out that Joel had won 1st place in the 3M category so Mofilm flew him in from Ohio.  Actually, Mofilm flew in all the winners (as they always do) and there were even a few filmmakers from Brazil and Mexico.

On the left there are the 3M winners Joel and his wife Randi, me (Dan!) and my friend Marissa are in the center and in the back there’s Thiago the Weber winner and his friend.

The party always happens the night before Lollapalooza because the winners also receive a par of tickets for the weekend-long concert in Grant Park.  So the out-of-towners were all buzzing about the show.  The dudes from Brazil were especially psyched because they were finally going to get to see Metallica play live.  I personally wasn’t going to Lollapalooza so I just kept buzzing about how awesome the pre-dinner seafood spread was.

My friends and I pounded down some champagne and shrimp and after 30 minutes of mingling we went into the next room for a ridiculously wonderful dinner.  As we ate we got to watch all the winning commercials.  They were….

3M 1st Place: Joel & Randi Levinson “More than just Post Its”
LIPTON 1st Place: Raul Fernandez “A Little Self Help”
YMCA 1st Place: Grace Jackson “So Much More”
GRAVY TRAIN 1st Place: Sean Cunningham & Mary Greenwalt  “Working like a Dog”
MANWHICH 1st Place: Jonathan Hayes and Christine Butcher “Welcome Home”
WEBER 1st place: Thiago da Silva & Leandro Romero “We Care”

All of the winning videos were actually damn good!  I’m not kidding; it was one of the best slate of Mofilm winners I’ve ever seen.  And in another nice surprise, Joel wound up winning the grand prize of the whole fest which means he went home with double whale tails.

I could go on and describe the rest of the night but photos are more fun than words.  So how about I just post a few a bunch of pics from the party.  These were all taken by Mofilm’s photographer:

It’s the Mexico City team!
My friend Rujanee does some networking
That’s Lloyd Choi, one of the biggest commercial contest winners of all time
Me taking a blurry pic of the Mexico City crew
There’s the President of Mofilm-North America, Alex Arata
Here’s me pretending not to notice that my picture is being taken
These are the cool dudes from Brazil.  They were really stoked to buy some camera lenses while in the US
My friend Marisaa tries the shrimp
One of the best views in the city.
I went with the rib eye
Joel graciously accepts his award

There’s a good chance that I’ll be moving to Milwaukee in a few weeks but that’s only 90 minutes away so hopefully I’ll get to come back and party with the Mofilm crew again next year.  And who knows….maybe next time I’ll be the one winning a whale tail!  Ok, probably not.  But if Mofilm starts handing out a “most jumbo shrimp eaten during the cocktail hour” award I’m sure I’ll win that one in a walk.