The 2012 Crash the Super Bowl Contenders!

This fall I sent a ridiculous goal for myself; I wanted to try and watch every, single Crash the Super Bowl entry and create a list of the best submissions.  But this year Doritos received a record number of videos.  In all, about 5,000 ads are on display in the contest gallery.  If one person were to sit and watch every one of those 30 second spots it would take them almost 42 man-hours to get through them all.  That’s a hell of a lot of zombies and crotch shots for one person to endure!

I tried to “watch” about 100 entries a day but I’ve been crazy busy lately and I just had to throw in the towel after about 4,000 videos.  And I put “watch” in quotation marks because I didn’t actually watch all of those entries all the way to the end.  In fact, I would estimate that I only watched 10% of those ads all the way through.  Why? Because to be frank, you can tell if a submission has a shot at winning after just the first few seconds.  If an entry has terrible sound and bad picture and features people drinking beer or wearing t-shirts with recognizable trademarks on them then that entry is simply un-airable.  So I skipped past most of the entries after about 3 or 4 seconds.

However, even though I only made it through about 70 or 80% of the submissions I think I was able to find most of the best entries in the contest.  For the videos I couldn’t get to, I scrolled through the video gallery and stopped to check out the ads that had high-quality looking thumbnails.  That might sound like a weird strategy but try it; you’ll find that if an entry’s thumbnail image looks good, the ad itself is probably decent.  But I also owe a huge thanks to all of our readers who submitted their links or who sent me tips about great entries. I bet half of this “best of” list came from reader suggestions.

So how did I determine whether or not an entry was a contender?  First, I eliminated every entry that had the following problems:

1.  Un-fixable trademark or copyright violations

2.  Un-fixable rule violations.

3.  Offensive of disgusting content.

4.  An idea that has already been done to death.

5.  Very low production values.

Though Doritos has claimed that production quality doesn’t matter to them…it does.  In 5 years, Doritos has never picked a finalist that had bad lighting, video or sound.  So I would say that production values are a HUGE (but unofficial) factor in picking the Top 5.  Every year Fritolay’s judges pick some not-so-funny but gorgeous looking, (relatively) big budget submissions.  But they have never picked a hilarious but kind of crappy looking video for the finals.  In fact, I’d estimate that at least 60% of all the past CSTB final ads were either shot on actual film or with high-end RED cameras.  And this year I bet at least 3 of the 5 finalists will be shot with REDs.

So anyway, those were the problems I looked for.  If a video didn’t have any of those issues, and if I was able to get through the whole video without being bored or turned off, here are the 4 questions I asked myself:

1.  Based on how the Ad Meter works, does this spot have a chance at scoring well?

2.  If people saw this ad on tv, would they like it enough to want to see it again later online?

3.  Based on past finalist selections, does this video fit the tone and style of the videos that the judges at Fritolay seem to like?

4.  Is it funny, memorable or special?

And that left me with a list of about 50 videos.  Then I whittled that number down to this list of 25 ads.  No wait…actually I’m going to share 26 videos.  Why 26?  Because one of these videos in my submission!  I’ll just mix it in with the rest and you guys can consider it like a little Easter egg.  If you can guess which one is mine, post your pick in a comment!  Seriously though, I’m very proud of my team’s entry and I swear, if I hadn’t made it I would still include it in this list.  But of course, my entry would obviously suit my own sense of humor since I wrote the thing.

Finally, there’s one other point I feel the need to make.  Because this is a list of ads that I think have a shot at making the Final 5, there are a few videos here that I personally freaking HATE.  But as I said, Doritos seems to really prefer gorgeous-looking ads so there are a few amazing looking but un-funny videos on this list.

And now, here is VCN’s list of the 2012 Crash the Superbowl Contenders!  All the entries will be listed in alphabetical order.  Click the images to view the entries.  Here we go!

A DAY AT THE ZOO:  This one is full of action, comedy and big wacky characters.  I’d call this one a sure thing but the costumes are TOO good.  I think the Zebra and the Lion are supposed to be the characters from the movie Madagascar.  If that’s the case this video could never get cleared to air.

A Day at the Zoo

BABY DORITOS: This one is just bonkers.  But I like it.  It probably is too crazy to make the final 5 though:

Baby Doritos

BAD MONSTER: This is one of my personal favorites.  It’s such a pure and simple idea that I can’t believe it’s never been done before.  But the Universal-style Frankenstein might also prevent this one from getting cleared for air.

Bad Monster

BIRD OF PREY: I’m not going to mince words; I despise this entry.  I’ve seen too many poor, dead birds that smashed into windows in my life to think this is funny.  But I think I hate this entry all the more because I know it will probably make the finals.  Sorry to get Shakespearean on you but this ad is full of sound and fury but signifies nothing.  It’s not funny but it LOOKS funny and it hits all the right beats.  But the comedy falls flat because there is simply no reason this goofy guy should be acting like a bird.  So it’s just crazniess for craziness’ sake.  One more issue:  The lead actor in this ad was also the lead in 2010 Crash the Super Bowl finalist ad, Casket. (He played the guy in the titular casket.)  Actually, I did some googling and Bird of Prey was made by the same LA Megachurch that created Casket.  Casting the same lead actor was a bad move; if Bird of Prey makes the finals it will look like that actor is some fritolay executive’s nephew of something.  If the Doritos judges pass on this ad I’ll be pretty darn proud of them.  They won’t though.  It will be in the finals.

Bird of Prey

BROKEN CAPE: This one’s just amusing and quirky.  It kind of reminded me of the simple “keep your hands of my momma, keep your hands off my doritos” ad from a few years ago.

Broken Cape

CALL OF THE SEA:  The judges in this contest love weird, random, quirky stuff and nothing is weirder or more random than a fisherman catching “the king of the sea.”  I originally considered this spot too strange to include on this list but about 10 minutes after I watched it I was compelled to go back and watch it again.  So it’s re-watch-ability sealed the deal for me.

Call of the sea

CAVES AND MONSTERS:  Brilliant.  Clearly a masterpiece that was created by some kind of video contest genius.  Doritos should just cancel the whole contest and send the director of this ad the million bucks…whoever he may be!  (Winky-face!!)

Caves and Monsters

DISTURBANCE:  I feel like 1 out of every 10 entries I watched this year was a parody of Paranormal Activity.  This is the only good one I saw.  Actually, I’d say this is one of my personal favorites.  The twist at the end is perfect.

DODGEBALL HUSTLE:  I think I had this day dream 100 times when I was a kid.

Dodgeball Hustle

DORITOS DAD:  This one isn’t too crazy or quirky but it’s funny and well made.  It could sneak into the Top 5.

Doritos Dad

DORITO TRIANGLE: This is hands down one of the slickest CTSB ads ever made.  I can’t imagine how much it cost or how much time went into creating this spot.  The funny thing is though that this ad probably can’t win!  It references a bunch of real people and I don’t think you can refer to people like Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa in a commercial without getting the consent of their estates.  Oh and also the ad isn’t too funny.  It’s sort of only impressive because it’s competing against a bunch of videos that were shot by teenagers with flip cameras.

Doritos Triangle

FOOD FIGHT BLITZ:  Every year Doritos gets a million food fight videos.  But this one was shot with a high-end camera and looks pretty slick.

Food Fight Blitz

GRAVITY:  This one looks great and it has a big, shocking, violent ending which is always a big plus.  But in this case, one of the people getting hurt was a woman.  And she gets smooshed pretty hard.  So I’m not sure if Doritos would take a gamble and pick any ad that showed violence happening to a woman.  When a dude gets hit in the nuts it’s funny but when a woman gets crushed and (presumably) killed in a commercial people are going to get upset.  To make things trickier, the editor inserted the famous “Wilhelm Scream” and I don’t think any unoriginal sound effects are allowed.  It’s also a real turn off that the makers of this ad already built a slick website asking people to “Vote for Gravity” if it makes the finals:


HITCHHIKER: This was one of the very first great ads I saw this year.  I think this one is a MAJOR contender but there’s a chance that the surprise at the end has been over-exposed thanks to similar “shock” videos on the web.


HIPSTER KIDS: This one makes the list just because it’s a gorgeous, expensive looking ad that was probably made by some of NYU’s most promising film students.  It’s not funny though and hipsters and cute kids acting like adults both make my skin crawl.  So this one is a double-whammy for me but I can see how the judges could get blinded by the amazing cinematography and the little kids in funny costumes.

Hipster Kids

IMAGINARY FRIEND: Pretty good.  This one seems like it was made by some people who carefully studied what kind of ads usually make the finals.

Imaginary Friend

JURASSIC KARMA:  This one is cute and the ending did make me laugh out loud.  The CGI is amazing for a video contest but I’m thinking it might not be pro enough for the super bowl.

Jurassic Karma

KITTY HEIST:  This entry was directed by two-time Crash the Super Bowl finalist Kevin Wilson.  (He directed Casket in 2010 and Birthday Wish in 2011)  This one is obviously cute but the only reason this ad is any good is because the producers poured a bunch of money into this project.  In fact, the same thing could be said of Casket and Birthday wish.  All 3 ads were shot with RED cameras and were probably cost at least $3,000 each to make.  And that bothers me because it feels like this one filmmaker is able to just buy his way into the finals every year.  And the more he wins, the more money he has to spend on his entry next year.  This same director also submitted a second, very slick entry this year entitled Sling Baby but I think Kitty Heist has a much better chance of making the top 5.

Kitty Heist

MAKE THE MOST OF IT:  A few weeks ago I listed the “Top 5 most over-done Crash the Super Bowl ideas” and right at the top of my list was “Zombies.”  This year it felt like 5% of the submissions I watched had zombies in them.  I thought zombies in a CTSB entry would never seem fresh.  And then I saw this entry.  This one is absolutely perfect.  But it might be a little too edgy for the Super Bowl.  Not only is there a little gore, this spot acknowledges the existence of sex (gasp!)  The actors are fantastic and they really nail the excellent script.  If the Doritos judges feel like making one really ballsy pick this year, it will be this ad.

Make the Most of it

MAYBE NEXT YEAR: This is kind of a strange one but that baby cracks me up.  If this aired during the super bowl people would just stop talking/eating/whatever to stare at the giant baby face and the pretty cinematography..  But unlike a lot of slick looking ads, this entry actually has a strong “punchline.”

Maybe Next Year

MY FRIEND ARCHIE: Even by professional standards, the CGI in this video is pretty darn good.  And it also manages to be kind of funny.  But what matters in this contest is humor.  If Doritos wanted slick CGI, they could just pay ILM to make them the most kick ass robot dog ever.  Still, if this one makes the final 5 I won’t be totally shocked.

My Friend Archie

PAINT FIGHT:  I personally like ads that have lots of action and a very simple storyline.  Actually, the judges at fritolay seem to like that too.  This ad has both of those features.

Paint Fight

PINATA:  I have seen roughly 100 billion CTSB entries that feature a piñata that is either a bag of Doritos or is filled with dortios.  I don’t really like the concept but of all the piñata-themed ads I’ve seen, this one is the best.


SERIOUS PROBLEM:  I saw a bunch of pretty good ghost-themed ads this year.  Many of them had really great effects but not a lot of laughs.  But I thought this one was kind of neat.  It’s not super hilarious or anything but its good for a chuckle.  Plus I like that he ghost is a pilgrim for no good reason.

Serious Problem

SURPRISINGLY BIG TASTE:  This is one of the only entries that actually made me laugh out loud.  And it’s exciting too!  I think it’s one of the most suspenseful video contest entries I’ve ever seen. You are just sitting and waiting to see what kind of horrible fate befalls that Innocent little toddler.

Surprisingly Big Taste

TONGUE LOVE:  I’m going to call it:  Tongue Love is my favorite 2012 Crash the Super Bowl entry.  It’s simply ridiculous and awesome.  The guy in the video is amazing and the twist at the end is just icing on the cake.  I’m worried the tongue-humping might be a little too graphic for the judges though.  Plus I think that there might even be a rule that says that characters aren’t allowed to sing or rap over the provided music.

Tongue Love

Wow, what a perfect place to end the list!  Hey see what I mean about videos with good thumbnails?  Almost every one of these videos can be summed up with a single, iconic image.  So…that’s the list.  If you’re entry didn’t make it, please don’t take it personally.  There were at least 25 other strong submissions I considered for this article.  So just tell yourself that yours just barely missed the cut.  If I missed any really great spots, be sure to leave a comment and me know.  And if you think my list is full of shit you can let me know that too.

One final note:  Today is December 21st.  And aside from being my birthday (yes, for serious) it is also the day that Fritolay might be calling the potential finalists!  I have talked to a lot of former Crash the Super Bowl finalists and I always ask them “How and when did Doritos give you the good news?”  They always say the same thing; they got a call 2 or 3 days before Christmas eve.  So I hope you all charged your cell phones last night.  Good luck everybody!

VCN’s Crash the Superbowl recommendations!

Note: Scroll down if you want to just skip my blabbering and see which 6 entries we recommend Doritos consider for the finals.

Since the passing of the November 9th deadline I’ve tried to watch as many of the entries for this year’s Crash the Superbowl contest as I could. But alas, Beardy is only human and I probably managed to look at only 2,800 or so of the 4,069 submitted videos. That means chances are good that I completely missed some of the most awesome submissions. So, though I’ve said that I planned to announce this website’s predictions for which entries will make it to the final 6, I don’t think that’s really a fair thing to do.

Instead, I’m going to completely ignore some of the highest quality spots that I saw and post 6 entries that I really enjoyed but that I suspect Doritos may overlook. So let’s call this list’s official recommended CTSB entries! Before I get into my humble video recommendations, I’d like to first make one general recommendation to the judges of the Crash the Superbowl contest: Think Small.

While watching all those entries, I saw a lot of very, very well made and expensive spots but with two or three exceptions, none of the high-budget/high concept submissions had much heart. On the other hand, I did see a number of really cool, really creative commercials that seem to have been shot by semi-pros and amateurs using consumer and “prosumer” grade video cameras. But a little googling will tell you that 4 of the 5 finalists last year shot their entries with RED One cameras. Don’t know what that is? It’s a very, very high-end camera that starts at about $17,000. So it’s clear that last year Doritos wanted the slickest commercials that filmmakers outside of the ad industry could make. (If you can get your hands on anything nicer that a RED camera you’re probably already a well paid pro.)

And all of last year’s finalists were stellar. They were slick enough to look like actual TV commercials but they were also funny, subversive and surprising. But after watching almost 3,000 of this year’s entries I just don’t see many that had top notch production values and were also FUNNY and ORIGINAL. Basically this year’s slickest entries just come off as hollow versions of “real” commercials.

So what happened? Two things I think; One, Doritos put up millions of dollars in prize money and then marketed the contest like crazy. So tons of people who never picked up a camera before jumped on the bandwagon. And two, all of last year’s finalists were so F***ing amazing that many pro and semi-pro filmmakers assumed the bar would be way to high and didn’t bother to enter. People like that know the look of the RED camera and they did the math in their head and realized that to be a serious competitor, you’d need to have access to a RED camera (or at least a high end HD camera). So right off the bat you’re already looking at a budget of $1,000 to rent a RED camera for a day. And not just any shmuck can run those. So unless you’ve used one before, throw in another $500 for a D.P. who knows what he’s doing. So that’s $1,500 minimum. And I’ll tell you, it takes a very, very special person to be willing to gamble that much money on a production when they see that 3,000 entries have already been uploaded.

So basically this means that there are two kinds of good videos among this year’s batch of entries. There are cool, funny, inventive videos that were made by non-pros or semi-pros who used consumer and prosumer level gear, and there are ok, but not super funny, big-budget entries that feature pretty graphics, lots of fancy but unnecessary dolly shots and in some cases, established characters actors, B-list celebrities and in one case, a semi-well known indie band.

My recommendation to the CTSB judges is to forget the slick, not-so-funny entries and give a few of the littler guys a shot. The first year that Doritos ran the Crash the Superbowl competition (2006), the winning commercial had a budget of only $12! That’s probably why so many pros jumped in in 2008. (Doritos did something else for the superbowl the year in between) They knew that if they could make a funny spot that also looked like a “real” commercial, they could crush the competition. Well this year I don’t think the pros delivered and so Doritos should do something bold; forget about only picking finalists that look like “real” commercials. Obviously they can’t air a spot with crappy lighting and muffled sound during the superbowl, but they can and should give serious consideration to the “prosumer” level filmmakers that submitted. If they don’t, I don’t think CTSB spots will go on to take all three top spots in the USA Today ad meter.

And making the “Top 3” of the Ad meter is the entire point of this contest. That right there is exactly why Doritos should go with videos that are attention-getting and big on laughs, rather than videos that are super-slick but only mildly amusing. And while the point of the contest is to make the top 3, the MESSAGE of the contest is that if given the chance, creative, regular Joes can beat the Madison Avenue crowd at their own game. Even many of the people in the Ad Meter poll will understand that’s what this contest is about and I suspect they will give extra points to the CTSB finalists IF those finalist videos actually look different that all the other spots that air during the game.

What I’m saying is that Doritos should pick at least a few finalists that are a little ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES. Yes, they might be seen by 100 Million people and yes they will stick out like a sore thumb. And that’s why it’d be great! If you’re watching the game and all of the sudden, some crazy thing that some dude shot in his back yard comes on the TV, you’re going to sit up and take notice. And if that “imperfect” ad makes you laugh, then it has been a success, even if only cost 12 bucks to make. If Doritos wanted to shoot a commercial featuring Flavor Flav they could seal that deal during a single lunch meeting. If they wanted to cast the secretary from Ferris Bueller in a commercial they could make that happen in less than 4 phone calls. And if they wanted their own version of the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials they could have a team crank that out in a week. So why should Doritos pick spots that an ad firm on Madison Avenue could slap together without breaking a sweat? If you’re going to create a new and completely different way to get your superbowl commercials, shouldn’t the commercials you get actually seem completely different than everything else that’s going to air during the game?

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. Finally, here are the 6 entries that I really hope Doritos considers for their 2010 Crash the Superbowl finalists. These are in order with #1 being my favorite:

#6. Don’t Be that Guy by “Moedirty.” Video #2530
This spot really only has one thing going for it; the super-serious guy at the end. But you know what? That guy is PERFECT. If this aired during the Superbowl the next day people in offices all across the country would be saying the hot new catchphrase “You have to leave.”

#5. Want More? by “Shonky.” Video #2081
If this commercial was shot by a major ad company you wouldn’t think about it twice. But knowing that it was just a couple of crazy dudes who made this adds a sweet level of insanity to it.

#4. So Worth It by “tgo0116.” Video #307
This is a Superbowl-style comedy of errors commercial shot for (probably) nothing. But that low-budget, indie look gives it the heart that so many of the slicker entries are lacking. This guy wanted to win so bad he cut a hole in his mother f***ing roof. Hell yeah.

#3. Doritos Make Everything Better by “Keithhopkin.” Video #951
It looks like it was shot for a high school film class but this will keep viewers smiling all the way through. The shot of the dog wincing when the Doritos fall on him might hurt this video’s chances but the dog probably didn’t mind, right?

#2. Battlestations! by “Laserbunny.” Video #4097
This one has actually got some nice effects but it still has a nice indie vibe to it. Despite the CGI they use, the “fractal Dorito” was apparently real. I think this one can make the official Top 6.

#1. Wrong Commercial by “knewacheck.” Video #3742
This commercial is just flat out stupid…and I love it. It’s so weird and goofy and you can tell that it was made for fun. Maybe the “Got Milk” bit at the end will cause a copyright problem big enough to keep it out of the finals but I hope not. The spot’s absurd but it’s absurd in a very smart way. Right off the bat, the characters let the viewer know that what they are seeing is a commercial submitted for a contest. That gives the spot license to be imperfect and look like it was made by three random knuckleheads. But I’m over thinking it. It’s funny and it works, that’s all that should matter.

Now as I said, I also shot an entry for this year’s competition but of course it’d be pretty shady of me to include it in my top 6. So instead I’ll just place a link right here if you want to check it out:

Despite all my talk about low-budget spots, I shot my entry on HD and it cost about $1,600. We even through a crane shot in there! Do as Beardy says folks, not as Beardy does. We used a prosumer HD camera though so I consider it to be a “medium-sized” production. Plus it is sorta rough around the edges I think.

So what do you think folks? Are we right or are we crazy? Did we overlook any potential winners? Let us know in the comment box. And because I can’t help myself, check back on Friday to see which two, more slickly-produced videos we predict will make it to the finals and the Superbowl.