A Crash the Super Bowl Bummer: Three of the five 2012 finalists were made by past winners


Last night, just after midnight Doritos revealed the 5 finalists in the 2011/2012 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  And the results are simply disgusting….but not because the winning ads are terrible.  Actually, all 5 of Doritos’ picks are well made and kind of amusing.  No, the thing that’s filled me with disgust is WHO made the finals this year.  You see, THREE of the FIVE winning ads were made my people who wrote, directed or produced previous Crash the Super Bowl finalist spots.  But that’s not all…those three teams are actually all part of a single group of filmmakers from the LA area.  But that’s not all either!  One of this year’s winning commercials was directed by one 2011 Doritos finalist and produced by a different 2011 Doritos finalist; basically two of last year’s winners decided to join forces this year.  So long story short, these results tell us that if you want to win the Crash the Super Bowl contest all you have to do is win the Crash the Super Bowl contest and then enter again the next year.

For the record, the names of the entries that made the Top 5 this year are Sling Baby, Bird of Prey, Hot Wild Girls, Dog Park and Man’s Best Friend.  Now please bare with me while I attempt to break down the finalist family tree:

SLING BABY:  This spot was directed by a filmmaker named Kevin T. Willson.  Amazingly, Willson has now made the Crash the Super Bowl finals THREE YEARS IN A ROW now.  In 2010 he directed an ad entitled Casket and in 2011 he directed one entitled Birthday Wish.  Both entries made the Doritos finals and Casket aired during the Super Bowl.  According to the website, Vote4slingbaby.com, many crew members worked on all three of Willson’s ads. But I only learned about the overlapping crew thanks to google.  The Sling Baby site seems to go out of it’s way to avoid mentioning the fact that this team has won this contest twice before.  In fact, the “About Us” section states “Sling Baby is home-made by a group of good friends.”  Of course the website also lists the names of about 40 crew people including two ADs, a stunt coordinator and an entertainment attorney….not too shabby for a “homemade” commercial.  One more interesting fact; Sling Baby actually features the same child actor that starred in Birthday Wish.  I’m guessing all of Fritolay’s judges have working eyeballs so they must have realized there was probably a connection between the two spots. But if using the same child actor was too subtle, Sling Baby was submitted under the username “KevinTW.”  Even I realized that KevinTW had to be the guy who made Casket and Birthday Wish.  It was so obvious that it almost seemed like the director wanted the judges to know it was his spot.

BIRD OF PREY:  Kevin Willson’s Casket ad was apparently a very large production and an entire team of filmmakers from Los Angeles all worked on it together.  And it seems many of the cast and crew go to a “megachurch” in LA known as Mosaic. From what I’ve read it’s kind of famous for being popular with aspiring actors and filmmakers.  (The head of the church, pastor Erwin McManus was actually the “executive producer” of Casket.)  I guess Wilson’s success inspired his Casket teammates to try and win the Doritos contest themselves.  The result is Bird of Prey.  The spot was written and directed by one of the writers/crew members of Casket, Joby Harris.  After doing some googling it looks like several people who helped created Bird of Prey are part of the “Mosaic Church” team.   Most notably, the stunt coordinator did the stunts for Casket AND Sling Baby.  To top it off, Bird of Prey even features the same actor that starred in Casket, David Schultz.  In Casket he played the man in the titular Casket and in Bird of Prey he’s the guy who thinks he’s a bird.  Again, assuming that the Doritos judges have memories and eyeballs they had to have recognized the lead actor and known the spot had some kind of connection to CasketUPDATE: In a video posted on the CTSB site, the director of Bird of Prey explains that he was only able to make this ad because he recived a $10,000 gift from someone from his church.

DOG PARK:  Now here’s where things get really weird.  Dog Park was directed by a filmmaker from Utah named Tyler Dixon.  Dixon created the (very funny) ad The Best Part which made the Doritos finals last year.  (Remember, it was the one were a McLovin lookalike licked cheese off his co-worker’s fingers?)  But Dog Park was produced by a producer from LA named Heather Kasprzak.  Kasprzak is also part of the Mosaic church team and she produced Birthday Wish which Kevin Willson (Casket, Sling Baby) directed.  Technically, she was one of the five finalists last year since that ad was submitted under her name.  I’m guessing that Wilson didn’t enter Birthday Wish under his own name because he thought it might hurt his chances since he had already been to the finals.  But anyway…do you get what happened here?  The producer of Birthday Wish obviously met the director of The Best Part at the Super bowl last year.  At some point they decided to team up and now both of them get to go back to the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row.  That’s seriously kind of bogus.  And like Sling Baby, it seems like the director of Dog Park wanted the judges to know who made this ad.  It was submitted under the username “TylerDixon.”  (Though I’m kind of being a dick right now I do respect that these guys put their name on their ads.  If it was intentional there was a real chance the plan could have backfired.)

So it’s all a little too incestuous, isn’t it?  I’m disappointed that these three entries made the finals this year because it proves that the Crash the Super Bowl contest is totally and completely broken.  This year, Fritolay recived a whopping 6,100 entries.  That means the odds of making the final five are 1 in 1,220.  So, how in the world is it possible that 3 of the 5 teams of finalists all know each other, go to the same church in LA and  have won the contest before??  There are only three explanations:

1.  The wining teams just happen to be made of up of some of the greatest commercial writers/directors/actors in the country.

2.  The Hollywood Branch of Mosaic Church in LA has pleased God so much that he keeps bestowing his blessings (in the form of cash and trips to the Super Bowl) on its parishioners.

3.  Being a finalist in the Crash the Super Bowl contest one year gives a filmmaker a tremendous advantage the next year.

Obviously (and hopefully) the answer to this mystery is Explanation #3.  Over the years, there have been a number of people who have been able to make the Top 5 more than once.  Off the top of my head I can think of 4 times it’s happened and that’s not counting Kevin Wilson who will now be taking his third trip to the Super Bowl.  So WHY does being a finalist one year give you such a huge edge over the competition the next year?  Here are a few possible reasons:

1.  MONEY:  The biggest and most obvious factor is money.  That’s all there is to it.  Of the 6,100 entries Doritos received this year, I would guess that only about 60 submissions cost more than $1,000 to produce.  Real “Average Joes” can’t afford to gamble more than a few hundred dollars on their videos.  And really, I’m guessing most CTSB submissions cost under $50 to make. So if you spend enough money and if you use the right camera (Doritos loves ads that are shot with RED cameras) then you pretty much are automatically a serious contender for the Top 5.

But Sling Baby, Bird of Prey and Dog Park all must have cost a small fortune to produce.  All three seem to have been shot with the aforementioned RED cameras which cost well over $1,000 a day to rent.  (I bet all 3 ads were even shot with the same exact camera.)  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the three finalist ads in question probably each cost $3,000 to $6,000 to make.  Like I said, a broke-ass filmmaker in Des Moines can’t afford to spend that much cash on a “spec” commercial.  But you know who can?  Someone who won a $25,000 finalist prize in the previous installment of The Crash.  Former finalists have a huge advantage because they are able to invest their winnings into new entries.  It’s a hell of  a smart investment.  Former finalists understand that they will have an edge over the competition (for the reasons I’m listing now) in this particular contest.  Spending $5,000 of their prize money from last year is a no-brainer if it means that they might have a shot at winning a million bucks this year.  These people are not the greatest commercial directors in the country.  It’s just that low budgets inhibit the creativity of a filmmaker.  There is no cheap way to make an ad like Sling Baby or Dog Park.  As I said, it took about 40 people to make Sling Baby.  The thing that separates the repeat winners from the Average Joes is cold, hard cash and the willingness to spend it.  If you picked a few contestants at random and gave them $5,000 to spend I bet you’d get at least a few commercials that were funnier and more clever than Sling Baby, Bird of Prey or Dog Park.

2.  INSIDE INFORMATION.  Former finalists understand the Crash the Super Bowl contest in a way that most contestants can’t imagine.  They basically get to spend several days partying with other winners and the contest judges at the Super Bowl.  It’s an amazing opportunity to pick the brains of professional ad executives and the people in charge of the contest.  Finalists get to see how the contest works from the inside.  I think the reason so many finalist enter this contest year after year is because they understand that Doritos needs to pick professional looking ads that will look good playing on an HD TV on Super Bowl sunday.  So finalists know that if they spend enough money they can maybe just BUY a spot in the finals.  It’s sad but true.  And 99% of the people who enter this contest don’t know that.  They just think that if they shoot a hilarious ad with their flip camera they have a fair and square shot of making the finals….but they don’t.

3.  SPECIAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES AND TALENT:  Once a filmmaker makes the CTSB finals they automatically earn a ton of street cred with other filmmakers.  If you made a commercial that aired during goddamn Super Bowl you better believe that a lot of doors are going to fly open the next time you need help on a big shoot.  Seriously, what actor or crew member wouldn’t want to work on the CTSB entry of a person who already won the CTSB contest?  And can anyone honestly say that the team that made Dog Park didn’t have an unfair advantage here?  Dog Park would never have been made if the producer and the director didn’t meet at the Super Bowl last year.  Is it really fair that winners are allowed to join forces, pool their winnings and form a super-team?

4.  PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE JUDGES:  As I mentioned, when you win the Crash the Super Bowl contest you basically get to spend a week at the Super Bowl with the people who run the contest.  You go to dinner with them every night, you go to big parties with them, hell, you get drunk in a skybox at the Super Bowl with them.  The reps from Fritolay and Goodby/Silverstein (The ad firm that manages the contest) get to know the finalists very well.  Is it really that hard to imagine that some judges might have a soft spot for some of the previous finalists?  This year, Kevin Wilson (to his credit) submitted Sling Baby under his own name.  So the judges knew who made that spot.  Wilson made the finals in 2010 and 2011 but he never never won one of the big USA Today Ad Meter bonuses.  Is it possible that his friends at Fritolay decided to give him one more shot at the gold medal?  We outsiders don’t know how close the contestants and the judges get.  Do they stay in touch?  Could a previous finalist e-mail someone at Fritolay and say “Hey buddy, I entered the contest again this year and I thought you’d get a kick out of my submissions!”

Whatever the explanation may be, it is now impossible to deny that past finalists have a massive and unfair advantage over the rest of the filmmakers in the competition.  It’s ridiculous that literally one small group of filmmakers from one church in LA get so much out of the contest and tens of thousands of filmmakers from the rest of the country get so little.  Actually, the people who are going to get screwed the hardest are the two 2012 finalists that made the Top 5 for the first time this year.  Because the makers of Sling Baby, Bird of Prey and Dog Park all know each other and go to the same church, they can conspire to make sure that one of the “Mosaic” entries gets enough votes to air during the big game.  At the very least, the past finalists already know how to run an online campaign to get votes.  Their friends already know “the drill” and they can use all the same resources that they developed last year.

So this is really a sad state of affairs.  Normally, we have one big rule here at VCN;  DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME.  You can scream all you want about how stupid the judges of a video contest are but you can’t blame a filmmaker for winning.  However in this case I think one 2012 finalist should have retired from competing with “amateurs” by now.  It seems borderline unethical to continue to enter every year when you have an unnatural and inappropriate advantage.  Just because you can win doesn’t mean you should try.  At some point you should step aside and let others get a crack at what is billed as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.  One of the big points of this contest its that it is supposed to help launch a filmmaker’s career.  It was never meant to BE a filmmaker’s carer.

But for the most part, the blame here falls on the shoulders of the judges at Fritolay and the consultants at Goodby, Silversein and Partners.  There were plenty of entries that were just as good or better than Sling Baby, Dog Park and Bird of Prey.  Why not spread the wealth around a little?  Picking the 3 ads that were made by people the judges know casts a disturbing pall over the whole contest.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say The Crash was somehow rigged but you gotta admit, this is some seriously fishy business.  Insiders have a much, much, much better chance of winning than outsiders do and that just comes off as kind of suspicious. I did mention that the odds of making the finals this year were 1 in 1,220, right?

In my last post I said I would review all 5 finalist ads as soon as they were posted.  But this stuff with the repeat finalists caught me off guard.  The two videos that were made by first time finalists are actually the best in the bunch.  (watch them here)  But they also look “homemade” (which I prefer) when compared to a super shiny and expensive ad like Dog Park.  Oh yeah…I forgot about the dogs.  Turns out if you didn’t put a dog or a baby in your entry you had no chance of winning this year.  I’ll do reviews of each winning ad in a few days.  Plus I’ll also announce which ad I personally will be voting for.  In the mean time, please feel free to share your own opinions in the comment section.


UPDATE:  This article seems to have gotten a lot of attention and it looks like we might set a one-day traffic record today.  A lot of people have been leaving comments and I really appreciate everything everyone has been saying.  It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy and that other people agree that something is wrong if the same exact people win this contest year after year.  But a few people are misinterpreting this point of this article so I want to make two clarifications:

CLARIFICATION #1:  I am absolutely, positively 100% NOT saying that professionals should be prohibited from entering the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  That would be insane.  I am also not saying Doritos shouldn’t pick commercials that look professional.  All 5 winning ads will eventually air on TV so they MUST be TV quality.  And I in no way feel that t is unfair for people spend a lot of money on their entries.  People who spend more money are taking a big gamble and I admire their dedication.  I have entered the CTSB contest 3 years in a row and one reason I get excited about The Crash is because every year I try and step up my game.  The first HD contest entry I ever shot was for this contest and this year I think my submission was one of the most professional looking videos I’ve ever done.  I personally feel that I am a much better, stronger and more professional filmmaker because every year I challenge myself by entering the Crash the Super Bowl contest.

So my beef is not with the pros who enter this contest.  My beef is with THE SYSTEM that allows the same handful of friends from Southern California to win this contest year after year after year.  Former finalist simply have some kind of advantage,  Think of it this way; For 28 years, from 1980 until 2008 America had either someone named “Bush” or “Clinton” serving in the white  house.  If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency 4 years ago, the order of the presidents for the last 24 years would have been Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.  So ask yourself this question:  Are the Bushes and the Clinton’s the greatest politicians of the modern era?  Or is it more likely that being an incumbent (or being related to a former president) gives one a serious advantage in presidential politics?  What I’m saying is that “politics” may be part of Fritolay’s decision process and that gives former finalists a major leg up on the competition.

CLARIFICATION #2:  No where in this article have I said that I think that past winners of the Crash the Super Bowl contest should be prohibited from entering again.  That would be very difficult to police since people can just enter under a friends name.  But there is no question that Doritos needs to fix this contest so that it more open to the rest of the public. Maybe fritolay should just ASK finalists to take a year off after they make the Top 5.  It would be like an honor-system thing.  But I should note that one former winner of the CTSB contest actually left a comment to this post and implied that he and his family are no longer eligible to enter this contest….probably because he already won the top prize of one million dollars. So apparently, Fritolay has no problem with forcing some contestants to “retire” after winning.

UPDATE #2: Actually, I’m not going to review all 5 winning ads this year. Readers have really been leaving some insightful comments and I want to explore some of the issues they have been bring up. So watch for new posts about the CTSB contest next week.

When will the Crash the Super Bowl finalists be notified?

In the last few weeks I’ve gotten a bajillion e-mails and comments from readers all asking the same thing:  When will Doritos notify the winners of the Crash the Super Bowl contest?  So I thought I’d do a quick post and try and answer the question.  Doritos doesn’t like to talk about when and how the CTSB finalists are contacted but here are a few facts to consider:

1.  The rules of the 2012 CTSB contest say that winners will be notified within 6 weeks of the submission deadline.  Since the deadline was November 21st, that means that Fritolay must contact the finalists by January 2nd.  But voting begins on January 4th so there’s no way they can wait that long.

2.  I’ve talked to a lot of past finalists and it seems like Doritos called all of them just a few days before Christmas; usually around December 23rd.

3.  But…this installment of the Crash the Superbowl contest was launched much later than normal.  So there’s a chance that the contest timeline is a little off this year.

4.  Recently, I interviewed one of last year’s Pepsi Max CTSB finalists and he said he was contacted by Pepsi just 3 or 4 days before the results were made public.  But the pepsi contest was run by a different set of judges.  However, thanks to social networking sites like facebook, twitter etc, these days it would be very easy for the news about who won to leak out.  So maybe doritos will adopt Pepsi’s tactic and contact finalists at the last minute to minimize leaks.

5.  Of course, literally notifying the winners at the last minute isn’t really possible.  Fritolay will have a lot of paper work for the winners (and their actors) to fill out like tax Forms, release forms, location releases and SAG paperwork.  The rules say that all that paperwork must be “received by Sponsor no later than three (3) days after notification of being a Finalist.”

6.  But I don’t think they’ll wait just 3 days before the deadline.  The rules actually state that potential finalists may be required to submit to a background check if Fritolay requests one.  (Guess it would be pretty embarrassing if a sex offender created Doritos’ Super Bowl commercial.)  Doritos will probably need at least a week to vet the potential finalists if they decide to do a basic background check on any or all of them.

So if I had to take a guess I would say that the finalists were probably contacted TODAY.  If they weren’t then I would say that tomorrow has got to be Doritos’ last chance.  If they wait any longer they’re just cutting it too close.  So if you don’t get a call by wednesday. December 28th I think it’s safe to say that you didn’t make the cut.

But whatever happens, we’ll all know the results on the morning on January 4th.  Be sure to visit VCN that day to read reviews of all the finalists and to let us know what you think about Doritos’ picks.  Good luck, everybody!

2012 Celebrity Crash the Super Bowl entries

Doritos: Larger Than Life

It’s been about a week now since the submission period for the 2012 Crash the Super Bowl contest closed and in total it looks like Doritos recived 4,829 entries.  That’s an all time record.  Sure, some of those submissions are duplicates but not many.  This year the Doritos team did a great job of keeping the repeat submissions out of the contest gallery.  In fact, I’d estimate that only 1% of this year’s ads are duplicates.   If we ignore the fact that a few of the entries are repeats, a little math tells us that your odds of making the Top Five are 1 in 965.  That makes this year’s Crash the Super Bowl the most difficult video contest to win, EVER.  So if you entered this year and if you have friends that are really psyched about your chances, you might want to mention the “1 in 965” odds to them so they won’t be too crushed if you don’t make the finals.

As I explained in my previous post, this year I’m trying to watch (at least a few seconds of) every, single CTSB entry.  My goal is to compile a list of all the best submissions.  (If you made an awesome entry and want to be considered for the list, leave your link in a comment to my last post.)  While scrolling through the contest gallery, every once in a while I’ll come across a commercial that has a recognizable face or two in it.  Over the years, a few “celebrities” have appeared in Crash the Super Bowl entries but using known actors seems to be a big trend this year.

But personally, I think using celebrities in a CTSB entry is a really awful idea for everyone involved.  Before I get into “why” it’s a bad idea, take a minute and check out this Crash the SuperBowl entry featuring Jenny McCarthy.  I can’t embed CTSB videos so you’ll have to click on the image to view it on the contest site:

click to view.

That was seriously a pretty good entry.  The production values where top notch, the premise was funny, the women all looked very nice and it ended with a strong punchline.  I actually think it would be a major contender if it did NOT feature a celebrity.  As it is, there’s just something off-putting about this submission.  It causes the viewer to wonder, “Why the hell is Jenny McCarthy in a Crash the Super Bowl entry?”  And that question leads to more questions like “Is she broke?”  “Does she really need the $25,000 finalist prize that badly?  “Or does she just want the attention of being in a Super Bowl ad?”  But here’s the most relevant question; if Jenny McCarthy wants to do commercials, why doesn’t she just do some?  Is she un-castable or something these days? (NOTE: The answers to all these questions have been answered by one of the directors of this spot! Scroll down for the full story.)

So you see, if you’re a recognizable actor, doing a Crash the Super Bowl entry is is a huge gamble.  Like I said, there’s only a 1 in 965 chance of making the finals.  But there’s a 100% chance that people will wonder why the heck you would stoop to entering a video contest. Ok…maybe some celebrities enter the contest just for the fun of it.  But if a famous person wanted to make a goofy video for fun, they could just do a FunnyorDie sketch for free.  So most of them enter for the obvious reason; the prizes for winning are money and exposure.  But looking desperate for either of those things is not good for an actor’s image.

And I also think it’s a mistake for filmmakers to feature major or minor celebrities in their Doritos ads.  In a way, it goes against the entire point and premise of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Doritos runs The Crash every year because they want to find something they can’t get from Hollywood or from a big, Madison Avenue ad firm.  They want quirky, crazy, outside-of-the-box ideas.   In short, they want “User Generated Content.”

The description for Jenny McCarthy’s ad lists two directors.  I googled them and it turns out one of them is her ex-husband.  And he’s also an known actor.  He’s done a lot of TV directing too.  So this entry is the exact OPPOSITE of user-generated content.  Actually, it’s hollywood’s take on user-generated content.  And that is the thing that bothers me most about these “celebrity” entries.  They have an air of hubris to them.  It’s like an NBA player walking onto a basketball court in a big city, public park thinking he’s going to blow everyone’s minds just because he’s a pro.  But no one likes it when a pro chooses to compete against amateurs simply because they’ll be easier to beat. Before I make another weird analogy, check out this other CTSB entry that features boy-banders Lance Bass and AJ Mclean:

Again, click to view.

Now that ad wasn’t so great.  The only thing it has going for it is that it has two famous people in it.  But right now, the people that produced this ad are probably patting themselves on the back for being smart enough/rich enough/well connected enough to cast Lance Bass and AJ Mclean. They didn’t have to waste time writing a stronger script because two celebrities trump great writing any day…right?

Let’s be honest; the vast majority of Crash the Super Bowl entries are awful.  It’s very hard for an “average joe” to make a tight, professional looking 30 second commercial for no money.  And that’s why I think celebrities agree to be in CTSB ads.  Some friend or nephew or ex-husband finds the contest and thinks, “wow, these commercials all suck! If I spent a few grand and hired a real crew and got my pal, insert-celebrity’s name here to be in my video I would win easy!”  But these folks don’t “get” the contest.  Presumably they think that their celebrity entry will be much more desirable than the thousands of entries that just feature regular jerk-offs from Nowheresville, USA.  If Doritos has to choose between a commercial that features Jenny McCarthy and a commercial that features a bunch of nobodies, Doritos will obviously pick the Jenny McCarthy ad…right?

Wrong.  Because if Doritos wanted to air a commercial featuring Jenny McCarthy in a bikini, they would just hire Jenny McCarthy and stick he in a bikini.  They wouldn’t bother to run a 10 million dollar “consumer generated” commercial contest if they wanted a  typical, “hollywood” ad.  So I don’t think we’ll ever see a “celebrity” entry make the CTSB finals.  If we did, it would probably mark the end of the entire contest.  Because if Doritos tells us that to win, an entry should have a celebrity in it, why would us regular jerk-offs from Nowheresville even bother to compete?

The entries that have recognizable actors in them are pretty interesting though.  Some of them are pretty good and some of them are a little lame.  Some where clearly made by pros with deep pockets who were able to hire known actors, while other entries seem like maybe they were made by the celebrity’s nephew and the actor is appearing as a favor.  Here are the 2011 celebrity ads I’ve been able to find so far.  If you see any other ones, leave a link in the comments.

The Eric Roberts Show: Featuring Eric Roberts:

I always liked Eric Roberts. And he's actually pretty funny in this.

Tasty as Charged: Featuring Jerry Adler:

You might not recognize the name but this guy has been in a billion TV shows and movies

Eyes Teeth: Featuring Sam Lloyd:

It's Ted from Scrubs! And he's in a weirdly hilarious CTSB entry!

Party Time:  Featuring Blake Clark and Peter Dante:

Wait a second...both of these guys have been in a ton of Adam Sandler movies. I wonder who made this spot.

Despite my bitching, some of those were pretty good.  But nothing can top the epicness of this celebrity Pepsi Max entry from Last year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest:

Pretty damn crazy, right?  But that spot did not make the finals last year.  So If an entry that features a rampaging Ernest Borgnine couldn’t win this contest, I don’t think this year’s crop of celebrity entries stand much chance either.

11/29/2011 UPDATE: The mystery of the Jenny McCarthy ad has been solved! One of the directors actually found this article and he was good enough to explain how the ad came to be. Here’s his full comment:

Hey Beardy

Jenny McCarthy is doing this in the hopes to help http://www.generationrescue.org/. When we got the news from your site ( “The Lonely Island guys are kind of IN the Crash the Super Bowl contest. By that I mean that they will be competing for the 1st place spot on the ad meter and if they get it, they will win the million dollar bonus!” ) We thought we would give it a shot too. Fair is fair..

Thanks for checking out the spot!

John A.

p.s. your site rocks!

Well now, do I feel like an asshole or what??  Not only did Jenny McCarthy and her team shoot an entry as a way to raise money to combat autism, they found out about the details of the Doritos contest from this website!  Though to be fair, the lonely Island guys were hired by doritos to shoot a super bowl ad this year.  They’re not actually competing against the little guys for a slot in the finals.  Their commercial is guaranteed to air.  But still, it’s nice to hear that this was for a not for profit endeavor.  So, good for them!

Sample Crash the Super Bowl release form

Just 6 days until the deadline, BTW

Here’s a nightmare scenario for you:  Imagine that you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours writing, shooting and editing the ultimate Doritos commercial.  Then after weeks of waiting and hoping you get the big call; you’re a finalist in the Crash the Super Bowl contest!  You’re going to receive $25,000 and a free trip to the Super Bowl!  But before the win is official, you have to get a big stack of paperwork taken care of.  You have to fill out tax forms and transfer your copyrights and of course, you need to get all of your actors to sign Fritolay’s official release forms.  But when you go to your actors and tell them the good news, they aren’t excited that the ad they were in might play on TV.   They just want to know how much of your prize money they’re going to be getting.  Suddenly the stranger you hired off of craigslist to say one line in your CTSB entry has your entire future in the palm of his hand.  If he doesn’t sign the releases, you don’t get to be a finalist.  Of course, there’s no way he won’t sign….but that signature is going to cost you.

That type of scenario is exactly why you need to get your actors and your crew members to sign agreements with you before you submit an entry to a big video contest.  Of course, the sponsor’s official releases will trump any release forms you concoct on your own.  But your goal should be to get your cast and crew to commit to a few key terms before you shoot.  So really, you should put the term “release form” out of your head.  Instead, what you need is a “Actor/Producer Agreement.”  (Or a Crew Member/Producer Agreement.)  This type of agreement is signed by both you and your actor.  It’s like a mini-contract that lays out what both of you are going to do.  Here are three crucial points the agreement needs to include:

  1. The actor must agree to sign all future releases and paperwork related to the project:
  2. You are the owner of the entry and all the audio and video created during the shoot.
  3. How much compensation an actor or crew member will receive if you win any prizes.

I’m shooting a Crash the Super Bowl entry of my own this week and in my actor/producer agreements, the actors will each be getting 5% of any “Cash Prizes” I might win.  It’s very important that you include a stipulation like that in your agreements because Fritolay gives the Crash the Super Bowl finalists a bunch of non-cash prizes.  But you can’t split a ticket to the Super Bowl so be careful about how you phrase things.  Also, 5% might not seem like a lot but it’s a pretty good payday for someone who only spent one afternoon working on your entry.  And 5% per crew member and actor can add up fast!  If anyone balks at the number, just be sure to mention that the top prize in this contest is a million bucks.  5% of a million dollars is 50 grand.  So like I said, 5% is pretty fair.

Unfortunately, Doritos doesn’t provide any release forms that you could have your actors sign before the shoot.  So you’re going to have to create your own actor/producer agreement.  Or you could just use the one that I use!  Below is a SAMPLE Crash the Super Bowl Actor/Producer agreement that I may or may not have created.  I don’t want to say who wrote this thing since it seems to contain bits and pieces of other agreements that are floating around the web.  Also, for legal purposes I have to advice you not to just use some bogus-ass agreement that you found on  the Internet!  If you really want to be protected you need to hire a lawyer to draw up a legit agreement for you.

So now that I think about it, let’s say that this particular agreement is for “Novelty Purposes Only.”  It’s just a funny sample for a non-existent Crash the Super Bowl entry named “Doritos: They’re Toasted!”  Like I said, you shouldn’t use this form but if you were going to you’d have to do a replace the fake producer’s name with your own.  Same goes for the title of the ad.  (Find and Replace in Word would do the trick.)  But again, don’t use this form and if you do, come crying to me if it winds up biting you in the ass.

Click here to download the DOC file:  CTSB-sample-agreement

Remember agreements like this one are signed by both the producer and the actor and each person gets a copy.  That way no one can argue that they didn’t have time to study the document carefully.  If anyone has any questions, concerns or feedback about the agreement, e-mail Dan at VideoContestNews.com.

Chevy airs Mofilm-made ad during the All-Star Game

On the morning of July 12th, filmmaker and self-professed “video contest junkie,” John Scaletta received a surprising e-mail from Mofilm.com.  Mofilm just wanted to let him know that his 2nd place winning Chevy entry from the Mofilm Tribeca competition would be airing on FOX that night….in the middle of the MLB All-Star Game.

John, his producing partner Craig Bass and his family and friends were left in shock.  At no point had Chevy or Mofilm ever mentioned that something like this might happen. But sure enough, their ad played right in the middle of one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Here is is:

2nd Place winner, Mofilm’s Tribeca Competition. Prize: $4,000

It’s really an excellent short film and I can’t believe it didn’t take first place. But John and Craig have done several fantastic video contest entries in the last year and a half. Maybe you remember this ad they created for last year’s big Godaddy contest. It won an honorable mention spot, $15,000 and also aired on TV:

And the duo also won a 2nd Honorable mention in the 2nd installment of Godaddy’s contest with this commercial. Except the prize for that one was $25,000! And yes…this ad also ran on TV for a while.

So that’s three national commercials in about 18 months. That’s pretty damn impressive. I saw those 2 Godaddy ads run a bunch of times on cable. And this year, 11 Million people watched the MLB Allstar game! If you want to learn more about how these guys operate, here’s a neat (but long) news story about John and Craig’s video contest adventures. Watch it if you like to feel jealous!