How much should you spend on your 2015 Crash the Super Bowl entry?

The 8th installment of Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest is now officially open and accepting submissions.  But you don’t need to run out and film your ad this weekend.  The deadline is still 54 days away.  That means there are eight saturdays and 8 sundays between now and 11:59PM CT on November 9th.  There are no advantages to being the first person to submit an entry; in fact, it seems like most of the winners submit their videos at the last minute.  So if you’re planning to enter the contest this year you should slow down and take a few weeks to carefully plan your production.

After you come up with an idea you’ll need to decide what your budget is going to be.  When you do, keep in mind that the goal here is to create a commercial good enough to air on TV.  The reality of the Crash the Super Bowl contest is that most of the “fan-made” ads that reach the finals were created by professional or semi-professional producers, directors, cinematographers and editors.  Every once in a while a true low-budget filmmaker will make it to the SuperBowl.  For example in 2012, “Man’s Best Friend” made the CTSB finals, won the online vote, aired during the super bowl and won the one million dollar USA Today Ad Meter bonus despite the fact that it only cost $20 to produce:

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Unfortunately, this is a better example of the type of video that typically makes the finals:

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Sling Baby” made the top five the same year as Man’s Best Friend.  A few days after the Super Bowl, the ad won an online poll (that looked rather easy to manipulate) so it also earned a Million Dollar bonus.  As you can probably tell, this was no “amateur” production.  It was created by a team of professional filmmakers in LA and cost $2,700 to produce.  Here’s a full crew list that I pulled from the old “Vote For Sling Baby” website:

DIRECTOR – Kevin T. Willson
EXEC. PRODUCER – Jeff Edwards
EXEC. PRODUCER – Dan McNeely
PRODUCER – Jason Dennis
WRITERS – Kevin T. Willson, Grant Nieporte, Sean Gaffney, Kevin Chesley
1ST AD – Heather Chalecki
2ND AD – Andy Peters
DP – Bernard Evans
1st AC – Jacqueline Stahl
1st AC – Trevor Smith
2nd AC – Dustin Miller
MEDIA MANAGER – Shane Sorenson
GAFFER – Edwin Kim
KEY GRIP – Becky Train
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Tyler Shaw
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Jay Castillo
GRIP/ELECTRIC – John Christensen
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Armando Crespo
ART DIRECTOR – Jalisco Wayne
SOUND MIXER – Matt Burgette
WARDROBE – Kristina Van Dyk
HAIR/MAKEUP – Amber Rae
STUDIO TEACHER – Kim Clifton
STUNT COORDINATOR – Ian Eyre
LOCATION – Ian Eyre
P.A./BTS – Tory Nelson
P.A. – Patrick Phillips
BTS – – David Reynosa
EDITOR – Bob Perkins
VFX – Justin Folk
SOUND DESIGN – Bob Perkins, Justin Folk
COLOR CORRECTION – Blacklist Productions
CASTING DIRECTOR – Sarah Domeier
SOCIAL MEDIA – Nate Daniels
ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY – Samuel Curphy
ON SET PHOTOGRAPHY – Jonathan Bell

Frito-Lay will probably receive around 5,000 submissions to the CTSB contest but I’m guessing only a handful will have one Production Assistant on their crew list, let alone two.  The marketing team behind The Crash enthusiastically push the idea that any “average joe” with a funny idea can win this contest.  But 9 years of history show us that this just isn’t the case.  Even the guy who shot “Man’s Best Friend” for $20 was a professional filmmaker who already owned all the equipment he needed to produce his ad.  And if you think that $2,700 is a lot of money to spend on a video contest entry, I have some bad news for you; Sling Baby‘s budget was actually kind of small.  The director of that ad, Kevin Willson has managed to make the finals 4 times now and some of his other entries cost upwards of $5,000.  (Including the 2014 runner-up, “Cowboy Kid.“)

When Doritos announces their picks for the finals in January they usually distribute an electronic press kit to the media that includes the budget for all the selected submissions.  Here now are the five 2014 finalists and how much each ad cost to create:

TIME MACHINE. Budget: $300:


OFFICE THIEF. Budget: $1,500-2,000:


Breakroom Ostrich. Budget: $1,700:



COWBOY KID. Budget: $5,000:


FINGER CLEANER. Budget: $7,000 (U.S.):

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Even though Time Machine was the cheapest finalist of the bunch, it went on to win the million dollar grand prize.   However, that $300 price tag is a little misleading.  The director shot Time Machine with a 2.5K Black Magic Cinema Camera and two Rokinon Cinema Prime lenses.  That’s a very pricey set-up but it helped his “low budget” commercial look good enough to air on HD TVs all around the world.

Does this mean that only well-equipped, well-connected, properly-financed filmmakers have a shot an making the CTSB finals?  Well, I hate to say it but yeah….it pretty much does mean that.  The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year.  Doritos isn’t going to pay three million dollars to run a 30-second ad that doesn’t look and sound professional.  It hasn’t happened in 9 years and it’s not going to happen in 2015.  That means that if you want to win this contest you’re going to need two things; a great idea AND the resources necessary to create a good-looking TV commercial.

Time Machine and Cowboy Kid air during Super Bowl XLVIII

Man, was that the weirdest Super Bowl ever or what??  For the last two weeks everyone was saying that the game was going to be a nail-biter but in the end, Denver would win.  Well guess what?  Everyone was wrong!  And it seems like everyone was wrong about who would win this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest too.  The entire Internet was rooting for Finger Cleaner but ultimately the winners were Time Machine and Cowboy Kid.  Doritos still hasn’t said which ad actually got the most votes in the online poll.  Apparently the million dollar winner will be announced on Good Morning America tomorrow.  But we know for sure that one of these entries will get $1,000,000 and the other will get $50,000.

I was really excited to see Time Machine air in the first quarter but I’m not thrilled that Cowboy Kid won.  There’s something about that ad that just creeps me out.  Maybe it’s the little boy’s long, flowing hair?  Or maybe it’s the fact that the mom claps like a goofball when she that her son has hog-tied his brother?

Ok to be honest, the real reason that I don’t like Cowboy Kid is that it was apparently (and semi-secretly) directed by a filmmaker named Kevin T. Willson….and Kevin T. Willson ALREADY WON A MILLION DOLLARS FROM DORITOS TWO YEARS AGO.  He won the million bucks back in 2012 after his commercial Sling Baby was ranked #1 on a Facebook ad meter poll.  And in total, he’s now directed 4 commercials that wound up making the CTSB finals.  There’s nothing in the official rules that say you have to retire from the contest if you win the grand prize.  But it just sort of seems uncool…doesn’t it?  And what’s really galling is that it looks like Willson entered under his friend’s wife’s name and then tried to hide (or at least not promote) his involvement….probably because he knew that CTSB fans might get pissed if they found out that a previous million-dollar winner was trying to “crash” the Super Bowl for the 4th time.

We’ll post the final CTSB results as soon as they’re announced.  In the mean time, you might want to check out Doritos’ facebook page.  It is absolutely blowing up right now.  Animal rights supporters are freaking furious that FritoLay decided to show Cowboy Kid since it features an act of animal cruelty:  https://www.facebook.com/DoritosUSA

Do former finalists have an unfair advantage in Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest?

See you next fall?

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the final ad meter results are in, the 2011/2012 installment of Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest is officially over.  So you know what that means right?  It’s time to start thinking about next year’s contest!  No seriously…I’m not joking.  This year, Doritos gets to boast that they won both of USA Today’s ad meter polls.  Man’s Best Friend won the real ad meter and Sling Baby won the online vote.  So both the Sling Baby team and the Man’s Best Friend team will be receiving million dollar bonuses.  Yeah, ok sure….Sling Baby only won the online poll because the producers of that spot got a small army of people to give bad scores to all the other ads in the competition.  But that little fact kind of makes their “win” sound a lot less impressive.  So I’m going to guess Fritolay is just going to pretend that stuff didn’t happen and focus on the double victory.  And I think that double ad meter victory pretty much guarantees that the Crash will be back this fall.

So for VCN’s final CTSB post of the season, I thought I should revisit a topic that I hope will get a lot of discussion this summer at Fritolay HQ.  About three weeks ago I got to do something that thousands of disappointed video contest filmmakers across the country would probably love to do; I got to talk to some of the judges of Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest and ask them about how they select their top five finalists every year.  Though I had a million random questions I wanted to ask, our conference call was set up to address just one specific issue: Do former Crash the Super Bowl finalists have an unfair advantage in Doritos’ annual commercial contest?

I’ll go over conversation below but first, here’s why we discussed that particular topic:  It turns out that even though Doritos received 6,100 entries last fall, three of the five 2012 finalists had co-written, directed or produced commercials that had made the finals in a previous installment of the contest.  One winning ad was actually shot by two 2011 finalists that met at the SuperBowl last year and decided to join forces this time around.  Another 2012 finalist, Kevin T. Willson has now seen his work make the finals three years in a row.  But what was really amazing is that three winning entries, Dog Park, Bird of Prey and Sling Baby were created by a group of friends that attend the same church in Hollywood.  So even though the odds of making the finals were 1 in 1,220, three people who all knew each other and who all had co-created ads that had won this contest in the past managed to win again this year.

And 2012 was by no means a fluke.  A surprising number of people have made the finals more than once.  In fact, there has been at least one repeat finalist EVERY YEAR for the past four years.  Now to be fair, some of the past repeat finalists, without question, made the best entries EVER submitted to the contest.  (Specifically I’m thinking of “Free Doritos” and “Underdog.”)  But in the last two years, things have been getting kind of ridiculous.  For instance, there is no question that one 2012 finalist spot, Dog Park wouldn’t even exist if the director and the producer hadn’t met at the Super Bowl last year.  That team won again this year because they made a good entry….but they were able to make that entry BECAUSE they won the contest last year.  So now more than ever it feels  like the Crash the Super Bowl contest was become an insider’s game where the same group of people all get to take turns being finalists.

After the 2012 results were announced in January I blogged about the repeat winners and explained why I thought former finalists might have an edge over the rest of the people who enter the Crash.  Here’s a quick rundown of the reasons I listed:

1. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE JUDGES: When you win the Crash the Super Bowl contest you get to spend several days at the Super Bowl hanging out and partying with the people who actually run the contest.  The contest judges get to know the finalists personally and it’s just natural that everyone would get friendly with each other.  In my article I theorized that some finalists and some judges may even stay in touch after the game. (Turns out I was correct)  I don’t think anyone has ever won this contest because they were pals with one of the judges.  But being friends with the people who pick the winners certainly can’t hurt.

2. INSIDE INFORMATION:  I suspect that finalists may benefit from talking to the reps from fritolay about the contest during the Super Bowl trip or later in the year if they keep in touch.  For instance, I have a feeling that former finalists probably find out (either via hints or direct info) that the CTSB contest will return before that news is made public.  If my hunch is correct, past winners basically get a head start over everyone else who enters the contest.

3. MONEY: When you make the Doritos finals you win $25,000.  Many finalists turn around and spend a huge chunk of that money on a new entry the following year.  For example, the 2012 finalist ad Sling Baby cost about $2,700 to produce and it was made by a director who had already made the finals twice before.  So it was easily one of the most expensive commercials submitted to the contest last fall.  It’s just not possible (or wise) for Doritos to pick commercials that look crappy so I think people should absolutely be free to spend thousands of dollars on their submissions if they want.  However, few people spend that kind of money because it’s just too much of a gamble.  But I think former finalists are willing to spend big bucks on their submissions (and I consider anything over $500 to be “big bucks”) because they’re gambling with “the house’s” money.

4.  SPECIAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES AND TALENT:  Lots of producers have access to money and talent but CTSB winners can get access to those things because of their previous win.  This contest can open doors for the people who win it.  What actor, crew person or investor wouldn’t want to team up with some who has already made the finals and had their Doritos commercial air on TV?  You can’t blame a contestant for taking advantage of opportunities that come to them because they have won the Crash before.  But it’s just one more thing that makes the process easier for them. On top of that, as we learned this year, finalists are actually allowed to team up with other former finalists and pool their resources and talent. Now that someone has actually pulled this off, I think we’re going to see more cases this fall where former finalists collaborate and form their own little Super Teams.

The article I posted on January 4th was entitled A Crash the Super Bowl Bummer: Three of the five 2012 finalists were made by past winners and you can read the whole thing by clicking that link.  The story quickly became VCN’s most popular post ever and it looks like it was read about 10,000 times (for this site that’s an insane figure.)  After it was up for a while, I thought it would only be fair to get Fritolay’s side of the story.  So one of their PR reps was good enough to set up a conference call so I could talk directly to two of the people in charge of the Crash the Super Bowl contest; Brian Kuechenmeister who is the head of Public relations for all of Frito-Lay and Jeff Klein who is a senior marketing director for Doritos.

If I were a better writer I would weave their answers into an in depth article about fairness in the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  But this is a blog, not Newsweek so I’m just going to hit you with some bullet points.  Here’s what I learned from talking to Kuechenmeister and Klein of FritoLay:

1.  The two reps were adamant about one point in particular.  They said that personal relationships with the judges will not help a finalist make the finals again.  They said the official judging criteria listed in the rules are the ONLY thing that matter.  Here’s how the rules say entries are score:

1. Originality and Creativity – 40%
2. Adherence to Creative Assignment – 30%
3. Overall Appeal – 30%

2.  Some of the people who judge the contest do get to know the finalists during the trip to the Super Bowl.  Some judges and some finalists do become friendly and they do stay in touch after the game.  One specific example that I was given was that former finalists sometimes update the Doritos team about new projects they are working on.  However, the reps also said that they also stay in touch with filmmakers they’ve met who have never won the contest.

3.  Former finalists do not get to jump the line.  By that I mean that former finalists do not get to send their new entries directly to the judges.  I was told that former finalists have to go through the same judging process as everyone else.

4.  This one surprised me:  The judges know the name of the person who submitted each entry before the final decisions are made.  I was told that as long as a former finalist enters under their own name, the judges will know which entry is theirs.  This means that the judges know that former finalists have a shot at winning again when they start making their final picks.  It also means that there is no surprise moment when the judges realize they just picked the same person’s video for the second or third year in a row.  I asked if being a former finalist helped or hurt a person’s chances of winning again.  The reps said that issue isn’t a factor during the judging.

5.  The rules state that employees or contractors of Fritolay are not eligible to enter the contest if they worked or were contracted by Fritolay in the last 12 months.  Even though Doritos purchases all of the winning commercials and airs them for years, finalists are exempt from this rule since the judges consider them to be “contest winners.”  So if you are a finalist this year you can be a finalist again next year.

6.  EVERYONE who has ever won the Crash the Super Bowl contest is eligible to win again.  Even the Herbert Brothers who won the million dollar grand prize can enter again if they want.  A former finalist is only ineligible if they were hired by Fritolay to promote the contest that year.

7.  I asked if the reps thought that repeat finalists had a financial advantage because they could reinvest their prize money into future entries.  They said some people choose to spend a more money on their submissions than other people and that’s up to individual contestants.

That’s a hell of a lot of info and I REALLY appreciate that the reps were so open about the whole process.  But I think this contest looks very different to people who are on the “inside.” So I’d like to address a few points from the perspective of any outsider:

First, on the topic of money:  If you can get your hands on the right equipment and if you’re willing to spend a few thousand dollars on your submission you’re going to be a serious contender in this contest.  And as I’ve said, I think that is totally fair.  The winning ads are going to air on millions of HD TVs on Super Bowl sunday!  You can’t run an ugly-looking commercial if you want to have a shot of scoring well on the ad meter.  During my conversation with the reps from Fritolay, I realized that Doritos NEEDS filmmakers that are willing to make expensive, professional-looking entries.  And every year some of the slickest submissions are made by former finalists.  I think this is one reason finalists are allowed to enter again the year after they win.  It’s like an insurance policy that guarantees that Doritos will always get at least a few tv-quality entries from past winners.  If finalists were required to take a year off after winning then Doritos would miss out on those “safe bet” entries.

Now, on the topic of personal relationships with the judges:  The thing that bothers me most here is the fact that the judges allow themselves to to become friends with the finalists.  And I don’t mean “friendly.”  Judges and finalists apparently become actual friends.  If you spend a few days with a group of people on a SuperBowl trip you’re just going to naturally bond with them.  But as I said, Kuechenmeister and Klein insisted that the judges aren’t picking people for the finals because they all partied together last year.  And I believe them 100%.  The Crash is a multi-million dollar ad campaign.  It would be ludicrous to pick Doritos’ Super Bowl commercial just because the guy who directed it is an awesome dude.

However….the judges in this contest are human beings.  Human beings have feelings and human beings have brains that work on a lot of levels.  Imagine that you’re a judge in this contest and you’ve got to decide between two commercials.  One was made by Potential finalist A and the other was made by Potential Finalist BPotential finalist A is a total stranger.  Potential Finalist B was a finalist in the contest last year.  You know that finalist’s name, you’ve met him, you’ve met his girlfriend.  You went to parties and concerts and bars with both of them.  You watched the Super Bowl from a private skybox together.  You got to see the excitement in this guy’s eyes as he waited to see if his commercial was going air during the game.  And maybe you got to see the defeat in his eyes when he learned his ad didn’t air or that he didn’t win one of the bonus prizes.  Then after the game you stayed in touch.  Maybe you even became friends on facebook.  If you did, you would get to hear about every up and down in that person’s life.  You would know if they were struggling or if they got a great job thanks to the contest.  If they didn’t win one of the big prizes you would know if it was their dream to make the finals again and win the million dollars.  Maybe you would even offer them encouragement.  Maybe part of you looked forward to seeing what Potential Finalist B was going to do this time around.

So…in this scenario, who would you rather be?  Potential finalist A or Potential finalist B?  Even if the judges TRY to remain totally objective, isn’t it unfair to the other 6,000 contestants that the judges even HAVE TO try to be objective?  Wouldn’t it be more fair if they just WERE objective?

I feel like kind of a jerk for even saying this but just now, on a whim I signed into facebook and checked to see if Mr. Kuechenmeister had a profile.  He did and it’s set to “public.”  I looked at his list of friends and it looks like he is Facebook friends with almost every Crash the Super Bowl finalist from the last 3 years.  (He only has about 500 friends so he’s not a public figure or anything that people can just friend out of the blue.)  This is relevant for some very important reasons.  Brian  Kuechenmeister is the head of Public relations for Frito-Lay and he’s one of the top decision-makers in the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  I would be willing to bet that no video can even make the finals without his approval.  Only a tiny, tiny percentage of people who enter this contest every year will know the names of any of the judges.  But if you do know who the judges are, and if are able to stay in contact with them between contests you’re basically setting yourself up to be a front runner next time around.

For example, the reps told me that former finalists don’t send their new entries directly to any of the judges.  But when a filmmaker enters the Crash the Super Bowl contest, what’s the first thing he or she does when his or her entry appears in the video gallery?  They post the link to their submission on facebook, of course.  I checked and that’s what three-time Crash the Super Bowl finalist Kevin Willson did on November 20th last year.  Willson is facebook friends with both Kuechenmeister and Klein.  Which means that one day before the contest deadline, Fritolay’s head of Public relations and the Senior marketing director for Doritos would have seen this in their facebook feed:
 

 
Did Willson do anything wrong here?  Hell, no.  The guy should be able to post his entries on his facebook page like everyone else.  I just think that it’s inappropriate that some of the judges in this contest have chosen to follow the efforts of a handful of contestants.  As I’ve said, Doritos received 6,100 Crash the Super Bowl entries this year.  It would take one person about 50 hours to watch every, single submission.  I’d be amazed if the big wigs at Fritolay watched more than a few hundred entries.  They probably only watch the very best submissions.  Willson didn’t need to worry about his entry making it past round after round of judging.  If just one of the contest judges saw that link on Facebook they would have probably though something like “Well, Kevin’s a contender again this year.”  Of course, that would only happen if the entry was any good.  But lots of good entries get snubbed every year.  If two filmmakers each make excellent submissions and one has to survive multiple rounds of judging before it gets to the head of PR for Fritolay and another can get his entry in front of that person before the submission period is even over, is that really a fair process?

And I think I can offer one more piece of evidence that supports my theory that the people who run this contest just get a little to close to some to the winners.  All last month, Doritos had been airing this commercial to encourage viewers to vote in the Crash the Super Bowl contest:
 

 
The ad features clips of several entries that have won the contest over the years.  But it also includes shots of a few non-winning submissions.  I thought the commercial was a fantastic idea when I first saw it.  It was awesome of Doritos to showcase the weird and wonderful work of so many past contestants.  Sure, it would be incredible to make the finals but just having even a few seconds of your goofy Doritos entry air on TV would be pretty sweet.  Plus, it’s fun for viewers to see clips of strange Doritos commercials they’ve never seen before.

But there was one shot in the commercial that seemed familiar to me.  I recognized one of the clips but I couldn’t remember why.  It took me a while but it finally hit me.  I was even able to find the complete submission online:
 

 
That entry is entitled “ChainSaw” and it was shot for the 2010/2011 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  It didn’t make the finals.  But it was directed by Kevin T. Willson and produced by Heather Kasprzak.  Willson has directed ads that made the CTSB finals for the last three years.  And Kasprzak has produced ads that have made the finals for the last two years. Kasprzak actually produced Willson’s 2010-11 entry. Between them, Willson and Kasprzak have created FOUR COMMERCIALS that have made the Crash the Super Bowl finals.

So it’s obvious why “Chainsaw” appears in that promo.  It was convenient.  In the last two years, the Crash the Super Bowl contest has probably received 10,000 entries.  But the folks at Doritos knew the producers of “Chainsaw” personally.  They didn’t have to dig up their contact info.  They could just call them and ask for permission to use that clip.  And a post-production intern didn’t have to spend weeks searching for a non-winning entry that had something to do with “love.”  I’m sure the judges just remembered that Willson & Kasprzak had shot a high-quality entry that would fit their concept. Heck…maybe this ad even inspired their concept.  Oh and as a bonus, Doritos didn’t even have to pay to use the clip.  I actually asked and Willson and Kasprzak weren’t compensated for the use of their footage.  I’m guessing that’s because if they got paid they would be considered “contractors” and they would not be eligible to enter the contest again next year.

So to someone on the “outside” it looks like Doritos has a few “go-to” filmmakers that they just seem to like to work with every year.  Do I think that anyone at Fritolay is actively conspiring to pick the same winners in this contest over and over?  Absolutely not.  All of the 2012 finalists made entries that were good enough to win…but so did a lot of other people.  To win this contest you need to have talent and make an awesome, hilarious, professional looking submission.  And Doritos gets lots of awesome, hilarious, professional looking submissions every year.  But for some reason it just seems like “the system” favors contestants that have won the Crash before.  Former finalists have lots of cash to play with, they are able to work with the best actors and tech people they can find, they may know the contest is happening again before the news is made public and they just happen to be friends with the people who will be picking the winners.  So it’s not really surprising that the same people can win two or even three years in a row.  But….is it fair?

Sling Baby “Wins” Facebook ad meter poll and a million bucks thanks to unsportsmanlike conduct

I call Shenanigans! Sling Baby's "head of social media" calls on fans to attack their competition.

On Tuesday night, filmmaker and three-time Crash the Super Bowl finalist Kevin T. Willson became the fourth person ever to win the million dollar ad meter bonus in Doritos’ annual commercial contest.  But unlike the other three times directors have won that honor, Willson’s victory isn’t anything worth celebrating.  In fact, the way he “won” his bonus money is so shameful I think his win might wind up being a black mark on the reputation of the entire field of “crowdsourced” advertising.

As I explained in my last post, this year USA Today ran TWO versions of their annual Super Bowl ad meter poll.  The traditional poll got its scores from viewers in private focus groups and the results were released on Sunday night.  This year, USA Today’s focus groups declared the Crash the Super Bowl entry “Man’s Best Friend” to be the best commercial of the game.  (A great call, BTW)  As is tradition, Doritos will award a bonus of one million dollars to the creator of Man’s Best Friend for pulling off such an amazing feat.

But USA Today’s second ad meter poll was touted as a chance for “the public” to rank the commercials of Super Bowl 46.  The poll was run online and voting was open to anyone with a facebook page.  Voters were able to score a video on a scale of one to five stars.  Way back when the 2011/2012 installment of the CTSB contest was launched, Doritos said that they would be giving out bonus prizes to any CTSB ad that landed in the top three of either USA Today ad meter poll.  (one million dollars for first, $600K for second, $400K for third)  Voting in the online ad meter ended last night and when all was said and done, Kevin Willson’s Crash the Super Bowl ad, “Sling Baby,” managed to come out on top.
 

 
So this year, Fritolay gets to boast that Doritos commercials took the #1 spot in both of USA Today’s ad meter polls.  But the new facebook ad meter poll is set up and run in such a way that virtually guarantees that a Crash the Super Bowl ad will land “in the money.”  The other 55 ads in the poll have nothing to gain financially by doing well so only the Sling Baby team seriously FOUGHT for first place.  So I think fritolay knew a Doritos ad would probably win the facebook poll all along.  However, I don’t think they ever could have guessed that the final score would be so lopsided that the results would make the entire facebook ad meter look like an unfair, illegitimate joke.  Check this out; here’s a shot of the Facebook ad meter scores as they were just a few hours after the Super Bowl ended:

Online ad meter standings: Sunday Night

On Sunday night, the CTSB commercial that won the traditional ad meter was also winning the online poll.  Actually, the top 5 ads on this poll are just a jumbled version of the results of the traditional ad meter.  So before the Sling Baby crew started voting, the facebook poll was actually a pretty fair indicator of how “the public” felt about the ads that aired during the big game.  But here’s what the scores looked like by Monday afternoon.

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Sing Baby had shot into first place but that was no surprise. However, the plummeting scores of the other videos in the top five were a little suspicious. As for the Kia commercial, it featured Motley Crue and it turns out the band kept telling their fans on Twitter and on facebook to vote for their ad. So that’s why that spot jumped into the Top 5. I guess the Sling Baby team didn’t appreciate that someone else was trying to win the ad meter poll. Here’s how the rankings looked at 1:15 on Tuesday afternoon:

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The Kia ad had been slapped down hard. Just 20 minutes after I took that screen shot I checked the rankings again. The Kia ad’s score was down to 4.22 and it had fallen out of the top 5.  So the only commercial that seemed to actually be trying to beat Sling Baby was mysteriously crushed in the voting over night.

Here now are the final scores of USA Today’s Facebook Ad Meter Poll:

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When voting started, Sling Baby was in a three way tie for first place with Man’s Best Friend and Bud Light’s Weego.  But after two days of voting, Sling Baby wound up absolutely slaughtering the competition.  Though I use the word “competition” lightly.  I did see a few casual requests for votes from some of the other competitors, but I think most companies realized that an online ad meter was sort of meaningless.  For the Sling Baby team, winning a 56-way contest that almost no one else was really trying to win should have been a piece of cake.  And Doritos even helped their cause.  After Man’s Best Friend won the big ad meter contest on sunday, Doritos started encouraging their fans to head to the online poll and vote for Kevin Willson’s Sling Baby.  I think it’s insanely, amazingly awesome that the folks at Fritolay want to give one of their CTSB winners a million dollars.  Sure, it’s good publicity for them but still, it was a really gracious move.  With Doritos’ support, Kevin Willson and his teammates could have scored a spot in the Top 3 without breaking a sweat.  But unfortunately, winning $600,000 or $400,000 fair and square apparently wasn’t good enough for these folks.  I kept track of the ad meter for the last three days and it seems that Sling Baby won because a small army of supporters sabotaged the scores of the other ads in the poll by maliciously rating them 1 star out of a possible 5.

If you look at Sling Baby’s official facebook page, you’ll only see a few subtle hints that the team wanted people to down-vote the other ads in the poll.  Here’s one example I saw:

Screenshot of the "Vote For Sling Baby" facebook page

Just for the record, Willson’s “User Generated ad” was created by a team of more than 40 pro and semi-pro filmmakers and cost almost $3,000 to produce. But anyway, as you can see, whoever was running that facebook page was really pushing the idea that their team had to beat Budweiser, M&Ms, Kia, etc.  And one fan even flat out said he was rating the other videos one-star.  And yet, no one spoke up and said “Hey man, we don’t want to win that way.  Please only give honest scores.

But that was how thing’s went down on Sling Baby’s official page.  Behind the scenes, the Sling Baby team felt free to get ruthless.  Based on what I have seen, it seems that some team members decided they could only win if they played dirty.  The creators of Sling Baby were incredibly organized and they even had someone managing their online campaigns.  That person’s name is Nate Daniels and the “About Us” section of Vote4SlingBaby.com lists him as being in charge of “Social Media.”  But apparently he also helped come up with the idea for the entry.  Daniels did an interview with something called the Lansing City Pulse in which he talked about his role on the team:

Daniels, who moved to Los Angeles, teamed up with the director of the ad, Kevin Wilson, to create the commercial. “I helped create the idea for ‘Sling Baby,’ and am in charge of the online campaign and the website,” Daniels said.

And here he is doing a TV interview with a Lansing, MI news station about Sling Baby’s quest to win the facebook ad meter.  So Daniels was a key member of the Sling Baby team.  He was literally the guy in charge of spreading the word about the ad and I assume that he was the head of the “online campaign” to get votes for the commercial.  At first Daniels simply asked people to vote for his team’s ad.  But as the Sling Baby slipped in the polls, he started to hint that people should give bad scores to the competition:

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But soon enough, Daniels dropped the innuendo and just started instructing people to rate the competing ads “1 star.”  In an absolutely despicable move, he even told told people to give a bad score to the other Doritos commercial, Man’s Best Friend:

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Daniels was by no means the only person using Facebook or Twitter to get Sling Baby fans to give bad scores to the other commercials in the ad meter. I found a bunch of other examples that I could post. But the people who made those requests weren’t in charge of Sling Baby’s social media campaigns so I’m not going to repost their comments.  I’m only sharing what Nate Daniels did because it was his job to promote Sling Baby online.

Now, if you’re thinking that perhaps this one team member went rogue and did all this without the OK of his teammates….well, take a look at this:

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Jeff Edwards was the Executive Producer of Sling Baby.  Not only that, Edwards was Kevin Willson’s “plus one” for the trip to the Super Bowl.  So Edwards was practically a co-finalist.  He got a free trip to beautiful Indianapolis, he got to watch the Super Bowl from Fritolay’s private box and I’m going to guess that he stands to receive a huge slice of the million dollar ad meter prize.  So this guy should have known better than to publicly call on people to give bad scores to the Bud Light, Kia and Chrysler ads. As Captain Hook would say, that’s just bad form. Even Motley Crue didn’t tell people to down-vote the other videos and they are literally a motley crew!

Over the years I have been in a lot of video contests where votes determine the winners.  And I always make it a point to tell my family and friends NOT to down-vote the competition.  That just seems like a skeezy and unfair way to win a contest.  So it simply blows my mind that (as far as I saw) not one Sling Baby team member responded to Daniels or Edwards by saying, “Dude, chill out…we want to win fair and square.”  Though I didn’t see any evidence that Kevin Willson was asking people to sabotage the scores of the other videos in the contest, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that he didn’t know what his friends and teammates were up to.  And yet, it looks like he did nothing to stop these sad, unsportsmanlike tactics.

And that might be because he knew those tactics would work. Just look at how the scores for the other top videos tumbled during the voting.  Even Man’s Best Friend, the REAL best commercial of Super Bowl 46 went from first place to sixth place in just 48 hours.  That just shows you how effective “down-voting” can be.  Every high school graduate knows that you can get an A+ on every test but just one F per semester will wreck your final grade.  My point is that negative scores have a much bigger impact than positive scores do.  Let’s do some quick math:  Imagine a commercial on the ad meter had 10 votes of 4 stars each.  That would make their score 4.00.  If a person casts an 11th vote of 5 stars, the video’s score goes up to 4.09.  But if that person casts an 11th vote of 1 star, that video’s score plummets to 3.72.  Winning by down-voting the competition was probably easy but it was also certainly wrong.  But I guess the promise of a million god damn dollars can make people do some pretty crooked things.  To me it looks like some members of the Sling Baby team decided that it was their mission to make sure Willson’s commercial came in first by any means necessary.  And those folks straight up accomplished the hell out of that mission.
 

 
Right about now you might be wondering, “What’s the big deal?  So these guys did what it took to win a million bucks…what do you care?  It’s not your money.”  Well the reason this is a big deal because the Sling Baby crew completely violated the spirit of this competition.  I could win a hundred yard dash if my friends ran onto the track and tackled all the other runners, but that wouldn’t prove that I was the fastest guy in the race.  And I sure as hell wouldn’t be proud if someone gave me a gold medal for my phony baloney victory.  The point of the ad meter poll is to be ranked the best because your commercial IS the best….not because you got a whole bunch of people to give bad scores to the other ads.  Not only is that unsportsmanlike, I think it borders on fraud.  If the Sling Baby team launched a coordinated effort to get hundreds of people to LIE so that they could win this contest then they could be facing some serious legal repercussions.  And yes, when those voters gave bad scores to all the other videos in the contest they were LYING….they were not scoring the other commercials honestly.  I think this whole debacle could and should be investigated by the legal departments of Fritolay, USA Today, Kia, Budweiser, M&Ms, etc, etc, etc.  But at the very least, the down-voting could result in Sling Baby being completely disqualified from the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Here’s what the official rules of the contest say about unsportsmanlike conduct:

Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual deemed to be (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any Sponsor or Contest-related Web Site; (b) violating the Official Rules; (c) violating the Web Site terms of service, conditions of use and/or applicable general rules or guidelines; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. This Contest is offered only in the United States and is governed by the laws of the state of Texas. All claims relating in any manner to this Contest or to any Submission must be resolved in the federal or state courts located in Collin County, Texas.

Now that I think about it, if key members of the Sling Baby team were willing to resort to such unscrupulous measures to win the million dollar ad meter prize, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspect that maybe they did some unscrupulous things to get enough votes to ensure their ad would air during the Super Bowl.  Again, I think that’s something the big wigs at Fritolay can and should look into.

Finally, there is one more reason why all this matters:  Crowdsourcing, video contests and consumer generated ads already don’t get a lot of respect from the pros in the advertising world.  Every time a twenty dollar, homemade commercial like “Man’s Best Friend” beats Madison Avenue’s multi-million dollar commercials, the entire ad industry looks bad.  But Sling Baby’s “win” on the facebook ad meter gives the pros a reason to dismiss the accomplishments of crowdsourcers everywhere.  Sling Baby makes it look like we can only win when we’re playing with a stacked deck.  And even worse, the ridiculous results of the facebook ad meter make all of us look like greedy, vindictive cheaters.  Oh, but just for the record, down-voting the other ads technically wasn’t cheating since their were no rules and the ad meter wasn’t even an actual “contest.”  But if people were giving bad scores to the other commercials on the ad meter just to help Sling Baby win, that would be unethical.  And winning a million dollars unethically is nothing to be proud of.

Two final notes:  First, all the facebook screenshots that appear in this post come from public facebook pages that anyone can access. However, I didn’t think it would be necessary or appropriate to actually link to those pages. Second, the website AdBowl.com also ran an online poll where the public could rate the commercials of Super Bowl 46.  There were no prizes or bragging rights at stake in that poll so no one tried to sway the outcome of that contest.  According to people of the Internet, the two best commercials of the game were Volkswagen’s Dog Strikes Back and Doritos’ Man’s Best Friend.  As for Sling Baby, it came in 6th.

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

Wait...WTF?

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.

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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.