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Fox News goes after a Crash the Super Bowl entry

Fox news makes me want to puke.  Seriously, there must be some really despicable people running that network.  They seem to have one goal over there which is to stir up as much shit as possible.  They work long and hard to create as many divisions in this world as they can and sometimes the on-air personalities almost seem to delight in the act of turning something stupid and small into a BIG, FUCKING DEAL.

Apparently Fox’s latest phony B.F.D is a lowly video contest entry.  Remember a few weeks back I mentioned a Crash the Super Bowl submission called “Feed Your Flock” that had managed to offend some Catholics because it featured what appeared to be a Doritos and Pepsi Max communion?  Well, when I first posted about the ad it was getting some coverage on the web thanks to bloggers who assumed it was Fritolay’s OFFICIAL 2011 Super Bowl commercial.  These folks and their misinformed readers started contacting Doritos and Pepsi and threatened a boycott if the ad aired on Super Sunday.  When Fritolay explained to these people that “Feed Your Flock” was NOT their commercial and was just one of 5,000+ entries in the Crash the Super Bowl contest the complainers then started demanding that the ad not win the contest and be removed from the CTSB website.

And guess what?  Fritolay actually pulled the entry!  So…controversy’s over, right?  Ha…no.  Because Fox News just found out about this like a week and a half ago and just because the ad has been pulled doesn’t mean they can’t squeeze some hatred out of this story. Fox’s “Feed Your Flock” coverage started with this short article on FoxNews.com:  http://nation.foxnews.com/culture/2011/01/04/doritos-ad-offends-christians

DORITOS AD OFFENDS CHRISTIANS:

In what may be another ad campaign gone awry, Doritos is featuring a new Super Bowl advertisement in which a priest, searching for ways to return to the church, has a supposedly brilliant idea: Replacing the host wafer with a Dorito. While the denomination of the church is unclear, what is clear is that most Christian denominations consider the host to be a big portion of communion and might find the commercial, titled “Feed your flock!”, insensitive. A spokesman for Frito-Lay told The Examiner that the commercial had been approved and would not be taken down from the website. [link to video omitted]

That’s the entire article.  It feels like something is missing from that story though, doesn’t it?  Oh!  I know…they managed to leave out the fact that “Feed Your Flock” was just one of thousands of entries submitted to a user-generated ad contest!  Not only that, they actually imply that “Feed Your Flock” was going to be Doritos’ official 2011 Super Bowl ad.  Anyone who had done more than 30 seconds of research about this would know that “Feed Your Flock” was just a video contest entry and that it didn’t even make the Crash the Super Bowl finals.  In fact, by the time that story appeared on Foxnews.com, “Feed Your Flock” had already been pulled from the CTSB website.  So you gotta wonder, did Fox intentionally mislead their readers or did the person who wrote the article not even bother to Google “Feed Your Flock”?

The Foxnews.com story got a flood of angry comments and I guess someone at the network realized they had a potential B.F.D on their hands.  So the story made it to air.  Here’s a link to some awful, random Fox News show featuring some random, awful, blond, Fox News anchor where the topic up for debate is “Feed Your Flock.” If you’re familiar with how the Crash The Super Bowl contest is run and judged you’ll realize what little regard the folks at Fox have for the truth. Right off the bat they just make up their own facts and state that “Feed Your Flock” made it “pretty high up but it didn’t make the cut because of all the controversy.” The ad made it “pretty high up” in the judging? Really?? How the heck do they know that? Answer; they don’t. The anchor even very carefully avoids saying this was an entry for a video contest. She makes it sound like Doritos hired several “groups” (implying ad agencies) to create potential Super Bowl ads for them. Watch if you dare:


Not content to just debate the controversial aspects of this ad, Fox had to take things to the next, malicious level by trying to turn a freaking video contest entry into a MUSLIMS VS. CHRISTIANS thing. If you couldn’t stomach to watch the above clip, one guy on the panel goes off on a “Why is it ok to make fun of Christians but we can’t make fun of Muslims” rant. It’s a Goddamn video contest entry and these people are using it as an excuse to reinforce the Us Vs. Them/Muslim Vs. Christian/All or Nothing paranoia that keeps their creepy network in business.

If only there was someone good and decent wandering the media wasteland that could offer us salvation from the hate-mongers! Enter my TV hero, Stephen Colbert. The other night he gave the above “news” clip some of the context it was lacking.  Skip to 2:24 for the “Feed Your Flock” stuff.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Thought for Food – Fruit Pouch, Doritos Ad & Super Big Gulp
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

That was awesome.  The great irony of this whole controversy is that “Feed Your Flock” has gotten more and better media coverage than all 10 of the actual Crash the Super Bowl finalists combined!  I mean, the entry made it on Stephen Colbert.  That’s a hell of an accomplishment.

And “Feed Yoru Flock” did make it on to one more notable show; The O’Reilly Factor.  Now, as much as I dislike Fox I gotta admit, Bill O’Reilly is a lot more “fair and balanced” than the rest of the anchors and hosts on his network.  He’s able to get his opinions across without resorting to making up his own facts.  Case in point; here’s his coverage of the “Feed Your Flock” kerfuffle.

You know that things have gotten out of hand when it’s up to Bill O’reiley to be the voice of reason.  He and his guest basically say “hey, it’s not too offensive, Doritos didn’t make it or buy it and the ad didn’t even make the Crash the Super Bowl’s Top 10 so what’s the big deal?”

Let’s wrap this up by giving the final words to Dave Williams and Mike Lyons; the filmmakers who created the ad in question.

I have a google alert set for “Crash the Super Bowl” and I can tell you that “Feed Your Flock” has absolutely dominated the press coverage of the 2011 Crash the Super Bowl contest.  But now that game day is almost here hopefully the media will turn their attention from one video out of thousands that didn’t win to the 10 ads that actually have a shot at airing during the big game.

Religion and video contests don’t mix

Thou shalt not film up in here

If you check the official rules of most video contests you’ll find a list of things that you’re prohibited from featuring in your entries. You can’t show smoking, you can’t show gambling, you can’t show drinking, you can’t use profanity, you can’t create entries that are obscene or racist or that advocate specific political views. But there’s one sensitive topic that never makes the “prohibited” list; Religion. Sometimes contest rules prohibit entries that defame other religions but general religious themes and scenarios are always allowed.

But just because you can feature a topic doesn’t mean you should.  Religion is like the poison puffer fish of advertising. The skilled hands of a team of professionals might be able to carve some humor out of religious scenarios. But when non-pros take a wack at religion they usually wind up with a big blob of poisonous mush. There is a fine line between clever and offensive and most non-pros don’t have the skills or the experience to recognize that line. Still, it seems like I’m always seeing tons of contest entries that touch on religion. I suspect that the reason is that many new filmmakers get their ideas from what locations they have access too. And for many Americans, a church is the most interesting place they can get permission to use.

Let me give you a few examples from the Crash the Super Bowl contest. Here are two entries that features Jesus turning water into Pepsi Max. (Link 1) (Link 2)  And here’s a very well done entry about an alter boy that uses Pepsi Max as holy water. (link)

But no matter how well done an entry is, if religion is part of the punchline it will never win a major commercial contest. My personal rule is that if I think my idea might offend anyone I don’t shoot it. And no matter how tame your idea might be, any depiction of religion will inevitably piss off somebody. Remember last year’s Crash the Super Bowl finalist, “Casket?” It featured a funeral in a nondescript Christian church. Now the video wasn’t about religion at all; it was about a funeral. But I remember a lot of Christian bloggers being disgusted by the ad. They felt that the pastor who produced the entry was exploiting his church for profit and that the filmmakers had “desecrated” a house of God with their shenanigans. Some people even complained because they thought the joke at the end of “casket” was supposed to be a reference to the resurrection of Jesus. (link)

So people FREAK OUT when you try and mix religion with advertising.  The last thing you want is for easily-offended strangers to see your entry and be so infuriated by its content that they e-mail or call the contest sponsor and complain. Or worse, they might even take to the web and start encouraging others to demand that your video NOT win the contest.

Think that could never happen?  Well, what I just described IS happening right now to a filmmaker from Pennsylvania named Dave W. Dave is a reader of VCN and he sent me links to his two Crash the Super Bowl entries to check out a few weeks ago. They both have similar plots but one was for Pepsi Max and one was for Doritos.  Click the images to view them:

Doritos entry: Feed your Flock by "Feedyourflock"

Pepsi Max entry: Pastor Solves his Problem by "Feedyourflock"

So those are two very well made entries.  But wow….the filmmakers are treading on some very sensitive ground.  The first few times that I watched this ads I incorrectly assumed that the priest was giving communion using Doritos instead of bread and Pepsi Max instead of wine.  Now at most I’m what you’d call a “lapse Catholic” but the videos did manage to bother me a bit.  After all, the bread and wine in communion are supposed to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  But Dave the director told me that the videos do NOT portray a Doritos and Pepsi Max communion.  He said the “Free Doritos and Pepsi Max Sunday” sign at the end of the videos mean that the pastor was simply giving out samples of the snacks.

I’m an open-minded, not very religious filmmaker who watched those entries several times and I still thought the ads were about a fritolay communion.  So can you guess how actual religious folks reacted when they saw these entries?  If you guessed, “they went totally ape shit” you are correct.  The director said that at first, the entries just got a few negative comments on the Crash the Super Bowl site.  Then he heard that some people who went to the church featured in the entries were not happy about the videos’ content and one of those unhappy people happened to have a blog.  That led to this post:

http://americaneedsfatima.blogspot.com/2010/11/shocking-blasphemous-super-bowl.html

The post is short but here are some quotes:

Pepsi and Doritos are offering a 5 million dollar reward to the person who submits the winning commercial for the 2011 Super Bowl.  A terribly blasphemous commercial was submitted.  It blasphemes the Holy Eucharist in a similar way that the Hyundai ad did for the World Cup in soccer not too long ago.

The commercial is booked under the title on Facebook as “Feed your flock.”

Please offer prayers and sacrifices in reparation for this horrific blasphemy.

And you can probably guess what that post led to….

http://agangershome.blogspot.com/2010/12/pepsico-deserves-butt-whipping-for-this.html
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/12/doubling-it-up-in-tv-commericials/
http://www.examiner.com/christian-living-in-charlotte/pepsi-and-doritos-are-tasteless
http://newenglandcatholic.blogspot.com/2010/12/boycott-pepsi-and-frito-lay.html
http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/communion-is-not-junk-food-another-really-stupid-advert/

Most of those posts are short and you should take a look at some of them.  But as you can probably guess just from the links, some Christians bloggers were encouraging their readers to contact Pepsi and complain or even boycott Pepsi products.  Right about now you’re probably thinking Beardy is going to go off on these people for complaining about a harmless video contest entry that hasn’t even won anything yet.  But I’m not.  Just last week I posted an entry on this blog that I thought plagiarized a popular Skittles commercial.  It offended me as a filmmaker and it bothered me so much I was compelled to make my feelings public.  I feel that if you see something that you believe is morally or ethically wrong, you have the right to do something about it.

So while I don’t think the Feed Your Flock ads are in any way sacrilegious, I can understand why these bloggers are mad.  BUT…what does bother me is that a lot of these people shot first and asked questions later.  A lot of them thought Feed Your Flock was PEPSI’S OFFICIAL 2011 SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL.  (That says a lot about the production values in the ads)  So these folks and their readers started calling Pepsi saying their Super Bowl ad was offensive.  Check out what blogger from the Charlotte Examiner.com had to say:

When does the mockery stop?  Where do Christians draw the line?  I can see making a joke, using religious reference, and at times, it can be funny.  Pepsi’s new commercial, to air during the SuperBowl, is as tasteless as the product Pepsi and Doritos are selling….Let me look into my crystal ball…PepsiCo, I see a boycott coming on due to your offensive marketing plan!

To replace the body and blood of Jesus Christ with pepsi and Doritos… there nothing sacred any more? For Catholic Christians, this commercial is totally, unacceptable.  We have a stricter doctrine when it comes to the Eucharist.  This offensive ad is not going to be acceptable by Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict?  WTF!?  Anyway, commentors eventually set most of these bloggers straight and pointed out that this was just an entry for a commercial contest.  And so the tactic changed.  The offended started calling Pepsi and demanding that Feed your Flock not win the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  That led to this shocking announcement from CatholicMom.com blogger Victoria Gisondi:

Great News! Thanks to all the phone calls, prayers and comments, Pepsi has informed a friend that the commercial didnt make the cut. I still need to verify this but it’s great news. Thanks for your help.

If you know how secretive Doritos/Pepsi are about the judging process of the Crash the Super Bowl contest you’ll understand why that comment is so hard to believe.  But…I believe it.  I think Pepsi wanted to nip this thing in the bud before it got any bigger and so they revealed the status of the Feed Your Flock entries.

I can’t help but feel bad for Dave and all the people who obviously put so much hard work into these videos.  But I also think they knew they were taking a gamble with their subject matter.  Here’s a blog post written by a friend of the director that takes his side.  In it, the blogger does say that the filmmakers knew what they were doing might be controversial:

http://bladeronner.com/2010/12/03/when-art-and-the-catholic-church-collide/

Video contests are only getting bigger an bigger and the bigger they get, the more people will start to pay attention to the content that is being submitted to these contests.  So if you ever find yourself in the middle of writing a hilarious script that you can film in your church stop and ask yourself, is this idea really going to be worth the trouble it might cause?  I’m definitely not advocating that you censor yourself because people might be offended by your ideas.  But part of winning video contests is using good strategy.  And shooting an ad that might infuriate people and make them want to boycott the featured product just ain’t good strategy.

12/15 UPDATE: Dave, the director of the “Feed your flock” videos e-mailed the Crash the Super Bowl moderator and asked if his entries had been disqualified because of complaints from Christians.  Here’s the response he got:

We have had complaints about your video, however it follows all of the rules and will not be disqualified – no worries!

- Crash Moderator

So what exactly went down in this story is kind of a mystery.  I think that Doritos message to Dave is that his entry wasn’t “disqualified” because of complaints.  However I also believe they wanted to stop the complaints (and a potential boycott) so they revealed to the unhappy bloggers that the videos weren’t in the running to win.

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