Well the wait is finally over! At 8PM EST last night Doritos revealed their 5 finalists for the 2012-2013 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest. The announcement came in the form of a video hosted by the “Doritos Girl” Ali Landry (who somehow looks hotter now than she did in her Dorito ad 15 years ago.) FritoLay saw a MASSIVE drop in the number of entries they received this year and to me it seemed like the pickings were pretty slim. But the Crash the Super Bowl judges managed to put together a decent list of finalists. Each of the 2013 winners will receive $25,000 and a trip for two to the Super Bowl next month. And the finalists are….
1. Goat 4 Sale by Ben Callner of Atlanta, Georgia
2. Road Chip by Tyler Dixon of Los Angeles, California
3. Fashionista Daddy by Mark Freiburger of Los Angeles, California
4. Express Checkout by Sasha Shemirani of San Diego, California
5. Fetch by Joe Taranto of Los Angeles, California
Overall this is a very interesting top 5. All the selected ads feel like Crash the Super Bowl commercials but I suspect that maybe Friotlay brought in some fresh judges this year. These picks are just sorta different than the stuff that normally makes the finals (and that’s a good thing.) Ok, time for my reviews!
GOAT 4 SALE: This might just be my new, all-time favorite Crash the Super Bowl entry. I freaking love this ad. It’s a perfect little 30 second short film. The actors are great, the cinematography is fantastic, the pacing is perfect and the goat is destined to become a super star. One of the best things about this commercial is that it actually does a good job of selling the featured product. Watching Goat 4 Sale makes me want to fill my cabinets with Doritos and scarf down a whole bagful. This year a public vote will choose one Doritos ad to air during the Super Bowl and then Fritolay will pick a second ad that will also air. The team that made Goat 4 Sale shouldn’t even waste their time asking for votes because there is no way in heck that FritoLay won’t chose to run this spot during the big game. This commercial is awesomely hilarious from beginning to end which means it will get a huge score in USA Today’s Ad Meter poll. So if Goat 4 Sale airs during the Super Bowl it will be ranked one of the Top 3 ads of the game and honestly, I think it will actually take the #1 spot in a walk. Plus after the game millions of people would go online so they can re-watch this ad. That shot of the goat screaming will probably wind up being one of the most memorable moments of Super Bowl XLVII.
ROAD CHIP: This one isn’t laugh-out-loud funny but it’s well made and I like it. It’s pretty obvious that this ad was created by a director who really understands what it takes to win the Crash the Super Bowl contest. (He’s made the finals 3 times now!) Obviously super adorable dogs are good and obviously clever babies are good but if you feature a baby and a dog in your ad you’re probably going to score some major points with the focus groups that review the shortlist of potential CTSB finalists. So sometimes it pays to pander! And I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, I’m being serious…this contest is about making a commercial that will be as popular as possible with as many viewers as possible and people just happen to like commercials that feature dogs and babies so filmmakers might as well give the people what they want. I don’t think this ad would make the top 3 on the Ad Meter but I do think it has a better shot than any of the other non-goat-themed finalists.
FASHIONISTA DADDY: This pick really surprised me. I think it’s cute and funny and very slick but it’s not very…oh I don’t know…epic. This seems like the kind of video that might win $7,500 in a Poptent assignment. Usually Crash the Super Bowl ads feel more original than this. The “tough guys dress in drag” premise has been totally done to death, hasn’t it? Why would Doritos pick an ad with such a played out concept? I also don’t see this spot doing very well on the Ad Meter. I think viewers will enjoy it and the wedding dress joke at the end is funny but the Super Bowl is when advertisers bring out their big guns. This ad just won’t be able to beat whatever crazy commercials Bud Light or E-Trade or Volkswagon air. Again, I do sorta kinda like Fashionista Daddy but no one is going to jump on the Internet after the game to re-watch this one.
EXPRESS CHECKOUT: I like this one and I think it’s neat that Doritos actually picked a subtle video that isn’t filled with cute dogs and wacky toddlers. This might sound weird but my favorite part of the ad is when the Kristen Schaal-esque checkout girl whispers “no” to the jerk in line. The director of this ad clearly has a strong talent for directing actors. All the characters play their roles just right. If the jerk in line had been a little jerkier it would have ruined this spot. And if the Kristen Schaal girl hadn’t gotten mad at the jerk it would have made her seem mean. The bad news is that like “Fashionista Daddy” this ad probably wouldn’t score very well on the USA Today ad meter. It’s a nice little short film but it would get lost in the shuffle on Super Bowl sunday.
FETCH: I have mixed feelings about this ad. It’s fun and well made and very amusing but it’s very similar to the 2012 CTSB finalist ad “Hot Wild Girls.” In Hot Wild Girls, two guys gets wishes from a Siri-like smartphone app. They ask for Doritos and they magically appear. Then they ask for some “Hot Wild Girls” and the phone thinks the guy asked for “Three Rottweilers.” So three Rottweilers show up and chase the guys away. It’s pretty obvious that the writer of Fetch was ahem….inspired by Hot Wild Girls. The plots are basically identical; the stars of both ads discover a magical thing that can bring them whatever they ask for. They ask for Doritos and then they ask for hot women. But the magical thing misunderstands and conjures up a scary animal that chases the guys away. I’m really disappointed that Doritos chose to reward such a blatant act of copy-cattery. It’s a funny and well done copy but that doesn’t change the fact that the writer lifted the concept from a previous winner. Ok, just for the heck of it I’ll post Hot Wild Girls. Watch it and decide for yourself whether or not it “inspired” Fetch.
And now, here are a few random observations I have about this set of finalists:
-ONLY 1 REPEAT FINALIST MADE IT THIS YEAR: This is a real surprise. Last year 3 of the 5 selected ads were shot by filmmakers who had already seen their work make the top 5. That’s pretty strange when you consider that last year the odds of making the finals were about 1 in 1,200. I did an interview with some of the top CTSB judges and posted an article that outlined the reasons why I thought the Crash kept getting so many repeat winners. (For example, past winners had become friends with many of the judges during their trip to the Super Bowl.) I don’t know if Doritos changed the way that they pick their finalists but I have a feeling that something was done about the problem since a lot of former finalists entered again but only one made the top 5. UPDATE: Several sharp-eyed readers have messaged me to let me know that Fasionista Daddy was actually created by several guys that are affiliated with a team from Mosaic Church in LA who have written and produced 3 or 4(!) previous Crash the Super Bowl finalists including “Sling Baby” which won a million dollars last year. So….these dudes won a million bucks last year and even that didn’t get them to retire.
-THE DIRECTOR OF “ROAD CHIP” HAS MADE THE FINALS 3 YEARS IN A ROW: The one former finalist who did manage to make the top 5 again this year is Tyler Dixon. Dixon has now managed to make the finals in 2013, 2012 and 2011. (That might sound shocking but last year a director named Kevin Willson made the finals for a 3rd time.) Dixon’s entries are always pretty good but it’s impossible to deny that being a former finalist has given him a tremendous advantage over the rest of the filmmakers in this competition. Another former finalist (that Dixon met at the Super Bowl in 2011) helped him make “Road Chip” and he was able to use his track record and the cash that he’s won to produce a professional-quality commercial. According to the announcement video, Dixon looked at 100 different dogs and auditioned more than 40 toddlers before casting the adorable duo featured in Road Chip. Most CTSB hopefuls have to use their own goofy dog and cast their buddy’s kid. Even the most professional entrants would be lucky to find a few real child actors interested in auditioning. But if you’ve already won this contest twice and if your previous Doritos commercials have already aired on TV the whole process of making an entry becomes much, much easier. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone who has proved that they can get really, really close to winning a million dollars in this contest? Don’t get me wrong, I think Mr. Dixon is a talented guy and Road Chip is a pretty good commercial but just because you can spend a bunch of money and cast the best actors and get the best crew and make the finals every year doesn’t mean you should. If you’ve already created 2 commercials that have aired on TV and if one of those ads actually aired during the SuperBowl then maybe it’s time to relinquish your amateur status, get a manager and become a professional commercial director. You don’t need to keep trying to win a million dollars, just go get a job with an agency and earn a million dollars.
-ONLY 2 OF THE 5 WINNING ADS FEATURED DOGS: Commercials that feature dogs tend to do pretty well on the USA Today Ad Meter so for the last few years Doritos has gone dog-crazy. But this year they only picked 2 dog-themed ads which is a nice change of pace.
-LITTLE GIRLS ARE THE NEW DOGS!: I guess Fritolay must have gotten some focus group data that revealed that people love commercials that feature precocious little girls. Doritos almost never picks ads that feature kids so it is kind of surprising that they’d pick two little girl-themed ads in one year.
-ALL 5 WINNING FILMMAKERS ARE DUDES: Women might make up 51% if the population but they make up 0% of the winners of this year’s Crash the Super Bowl Contest. There’s not really a lot FritoLay can do about this I guess but in the 6 years Doritos has been running this contest I think that only like 3 women have ever made the top 5 and that’s sort of a shame.
-NONE OF THE ADS STAR NON-WHITE ACTORS. Again, I guess there’s nothing much Doritos could do about this but filmmakers….seriously, a little diversity will HELP your entry, not hurt it. Hmm, I wonder if any of the 40 little girls that auditioned for Road Chip where black, Hispanic or Asian. At least the director of Fashionista Daddy took a page out of Bud Light’s playbook and cast a multi-racial group of buddies.
-NONE OF THE FINALISTS ARE VERY “EXPLOSIVE.” When Doritos launched this year’s Crash they implied that contestants might want to make their entries exciting, explosive or action packed since Michael Bay was going to help pick this year’s winners. Well, I guess Michael Bay’s tastes have changed and he now prefers frilly tea parties and giggling toddlers over giant robots and graphic shoot outs.
-ALL 5 FINALISTS WERE UP FOR “NACHO AVERAGE AD AWARDS: Ok, I did not see this coming. All of the entries that made the finals had already been singled out by Doritos and nominated for Nacho Average Ad awards. I really thought that Doritos would keep a few of the finalists in their pocket but I guess if you didn’t make the “Nacho Ad” shortlist you didn’t have a shot of making the final 5.
-I PREDICTED 2 OF THE 5 FINALISTS CORRECTLY!: About 3,000 commercials were submitted to the Crash this year but by golly I was able to spot 2 finalists ahead of time; Goat 4 Sale and Road Chip. I also listed 4 other possible contenders and that list included Fetch. So I did pretty good this year but I’m seriously bummed that It’s a Trap didn’t make it. That one was awesome.
Voting is now open and you can vote once a day for your favorite ad from now until January 29th. I’ll be voting for Goat 4 Sale even though I’m sure it’s a lock for the Super Bowl. Head here to watch the finalists and cast your vote. But be warned, Doritos’ facebook app freaking sucks and every time you vote an ad for Doritos will basically pop up in your timeline. After a month your friends are really going to be annoyed with all the “So-and-so cast a vote in the Crash the Super Bowl contest!” messages in their news feed. I’m actually working on an article that explains how Doritos’ Facebook app almost ruined this year’s competition so check back here next week for that story.
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