Super Bowl 50 is over and so is the Crash the Super Bowl contest! It’s been a great ten years but I think the folks at Doritos are wise to retire the contest while it’s still popular. The final winner was Doritos Dogs by Jacob Chase of Los Angeles, California. Frito-Lay was only supposed to air one CTSB entry this year but they surprised everyone and ran two. The other ad was Ultrasound by Peter Carstairs of Melbourne, Australia. Ultrasound aired really early in the first quarter and I just assumed it was the big winner. So I was really surprised to see Doritos Dogs just after half time. (or was it just before? Coldplay makes my memory go fuzzy.) Ultrasound has turned in a viral hit online so that’s probably why Doritos decided to air it. –
Most of the Super Bowl commercials sucked this year but Ultrasound and Doritos Dogs really stood out. I definitely think a lot of people will be talking about Ultrasound tomorrow. Congrats to the winners and thanks to Doritos for running such an amazing contest for the last 10 years!
POST SCRIPT: Hardcore CTSB fans will want to check this out. Someone associated with the contest was on Periscope during the game. So now all us non-winners can see what it’s like inside of Doritos’ private box at the Super Bowl. I was surprised that there weren’t more Doritos! https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDGlByVmQqxL
POST SCRIPT #2: The USA Today ad meter results were released on Monday; Ultrasound and Doritos Dogs were ranked the #3 and #4 best ads of the game, respectively. That may sound impressive but keep in mind that the USA Today Ad Meter is pretty much worthless now. The paper used to run multiple live focus groups but now the Ad Meter is basically just an online poll. That’s probably why Doritos stopped using it to measure the success of their ads.
Crash the Super Bowl season (much like the Christmas season) seems to get longer every year. It’s already November 3rd but the Doritos deadline is still 11 days away. The season may be longer this time but the contest is progressing as it always does. Every year in late October/early November I start seeing news stories like this:
I’ll probably get a dozen google alerts for stories like that this month. For reasons I’ve never fully understood, some filmmakers try and get “press” for their Crash the Super Bowl ads. I think these stories happen because a lot of people don’t understand how the Crash the Super Bowl contest actually works. The local news segments usually end with a “call to action” from the anchor; he or she will say something like “and if you want to help these young filmmakers make it to the finals you can head to Crashthesuperbowl.com and watch their entry and rate it five stars.”
Those calls to action always bug me because they show that the filmmakers (and the journalists who wrote the story) were too lazy to read the CTSB rules: Here are the judging criteria for this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest: –
Notice that it doesn’t say anything about views or ratings? I suppose Point #3 could be interpreted to mean views and votes but that interpretation would be wrong. (Frito-Lay uses focus group testing to determine an ad’s public appeal) For the record, views, votes and ratings do not “count” and they will NOT help a CTSB entry make it to the finals. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret; the CTSB judges don’t watch the entries on the contest website! So they have no idea how many views or votes an entry has.
But like I said, that piece of info isn’t public knowledge. The folks at Frito-Lay fully realize that hundreds of filmmakers desperately try and get views and 5-star ratings every year but no one from the company ever tries to correct the misunderstanding. And I think that’s because Frito-Lay wants people to be confused. Consider this: if views and ratings are meaningless, why does the website keep track of them? The team that built crashthesuperbowl.doritos.com must have realized that if they put a star-rating option, and if they ranked videos by views and votes, a lot of people would assume that views and votes mattered. And when a filmmaker shares his entry on facebook (or on the Channel 2 news) they are giving Doritos free exposure. A crappy, homemade Doritos commercial is still a Doritos commercial. Maybe your Aunt Linda will remember your ad the next time she’s at the grocery store and the memory will inspire her to pick up a bag of Cool Ranch.
So if you’ve been worrying about your ad’s score or view count you can relax. Those metrics are totally and completely meaningless. Voting only matters after the finalists have been announced in January. If you need more proof just watch some of the Highest Rated and Most Viewed entries on the Crash the Super Bowl site. Do you really think any of those commercials deserve to air during the Super Bowl?
Just a few hours after the big game ended, FritoLay revealed that “Middle Seat” was the grand prize winner of the 2015 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest. The news wasn’t supposed to be released until Monday but FritoLay had to make a quick announcement after actress (and Crash the Super Bowl Judge) Elizabeth Banks tweeted out the above photo late Sunday night. –
As the winner of the Crash the Super Bowl contest, the director of the “Middle Seat”, Scott Zabielski, will receive $1,000,000 and and a “Dream Job” at Universal Studios. Right now it’s unclear what Zabielski’s job at Universal will be (it might be related to Development) or even if he’ll accept the offer. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned the gig down. Mr. Zabielski doesn’t really need to “break into” the film industry because he’s already got a pretty impressive career going. Currently he’s the producer and director of the highest rated show on Comedy Central, Tosh.0. His track record has already gotten him a lot of attention in Hollywood and in 2012 he was hired to direct the new Police Academy reboot. That version of the reboot eventually fell apart but Tosh.0 is a money-making Juggernaut so eventually someone is going to hire Zabielski to direct a big-budget commercial or a major motion picture.
This year marks the first time that a legitimate, successful, professional director has won this competition. Nine years ago Doritos created the Crash the Super Bowl contest because they wanted to launch the careers of aspiring filmmakers. The whole premise behind the promotion was that “Average Joes” would be able to “crash” the biggest advertising event of the year. So personally, I think it’s unethical for a professional filmmaker to enter a contest that’s meant for amateurs and semi-pros. Don’t get me wrong, I think “Middle Seat” was a very funny ad and it was easily the best entry in the Doritos’ Top 10. But just because a professional director CAN call in tens of thousands of dollars worth of favors and shoot a high-quality commercial that would probably beat out all the real zero-budget, “fan-made” entries doesn’t mean he SHOULD.
But hey, who can resist a million dollars right? At least 90% of Crash the Super Bowl ads are shot by amateurs and consequently more than 90% of the entries aren’t good enough to air on TV. So FritoLay’s million dollar grand prize must look like easy pickins to a professional director. But you can’t just throw your professional ethics out the window because there’s a bunch of cash at stake. It is simply inappropriate for a successful director to punch below his weight so he can win a cash prize that was intended to be a “follow your dreams” windfall for some aspiring filmmaker in Indiana or Vancouver or Osaka.
I’ve watched and read a lot of the interviews Zabielski has given and I think he knew that he was doing something kind of skeezy here. For the last few weeks he’s been bending over backwards in an effort to paint himself as just another “average joe.” Here’s a promo video he shot for FritoLay. Skip ahead to the 33 second mark to hear his thoughts about how great it is that Doritos gives “average people” the chance to have their work seen by millions of people. –
Just for the record, Tosh.0 gets about two million viewers per episode (not counting re-runs). So Scott Zabielski is definitely no Average Joe and his work is already being seen by millions of people every week.
Even the alleged budget for “Middle Seat” seems like a fabrication. Zabielski claims that he only spent $2,000 to produce his entry. Despite what I just said about zero-budget filmmakers, a lot of well-funded semi-pros have managed to make the CTSB finals over the years. (Some filmmakers gamble everything they have for a shot at the Top 10) So when you compare it to past CTSB budgets, Middle Seat’s $2,000 price tag seems reasonable. But any producer will tell you that there’s no way in the world Middle Seat cost only $2,000 to create. As one reader pointed out, the entry was shot on a set at the “Air Hollywood” Studios. Here’s what one of Air Hollywood’s plane sets looks like:
Major TV shows like Lost and movies like Bridesmaids are shot on those sets. Here’s a sample price guide from the Air Hollywood website:
So a pre-lit, Narrow-Body Jet interior plus a location fee and an air conditioning fee would come to $11,000. So why would a director lie about how much he spent on his Crash the Super Bowl entry? Well, because no one is going to root for the guy who already has ten or twenty grand to blow on a video contest entry.
The rules of the Crash the Super Bowl contest don’t explicitly say that professional filmmakers are prohibited from entering. But they should. Doritos could keep out the pros simply by adding a rule that bars members of the Directors Guild of America from participating. Getting into the DGA is pretty tough so I think it’s a pretty fair way to measure who is a pro and who isn’t.
But unfortunately, Doritos will never institute a rule change like this. That’s because they LOVE IT when professional filmmakers borrow a $20,000 camera rig and rent a fake airplane set to shoot a “low budget” CTSB entry. The contest judges do seem to prefer great, authentic, low-budget ads. But every year a few pros splurge and and shoot entries like Middle Seat. And these high-quality professional entries are like an insurance policy for FritoLay. They ensure that there will always be a few TV-quality ads in the mix. So if the Average Joes blow it one year and submit a bunch of junk, the judges can run one of these slick ads and then just do a little spin to downplay the director’s true background.
I know that Doritos will never explicitly ban professionals from entering the Crash the Super Bowl contest, so I would like to propose an alternate solution to this problem. FritoLay has been giving away these studio “Dream Jobs” for a few years now. The rules should state that the “Dream Job” isn’t optional. If a filmmaker wins the grand prize, he or she must accept the ENTIRE prize package. The winner can’t just take the million bucks and then turn down the studio job. You can either accept the prize package or decline it. If the winner declines the prize, it would automatically be offered to the 2nd place winner.
Last year the Grand Prize in the Crash the Super Bowl contest was a million dollars plus the a chance to work on the set of the new Avengers movie. Do you think the director of one of the most popular TV shows on cable would quit his job so that he could spend four months making photocopies for Joss Whedon? That actually sounds like a pretty kick-ass gig to me and I bet most of the people reading this would agree. But for those filmmakers out there that think a job like that isn’t worth their time, maybe they shouldn’t be entering this particular contest. As I said, it’s not clear yet if Mr. Zabielski will accept the 2nd pat of his prize package. But I hope he does. It would be a real shame if an opportunity like this just went to waste.
Doritos has finally confirmed that the Crash the Super Bowl contest will be back for 2015, and instead of “going global,” this year the contest will be going “Universal” The winning filmmaker will receive a million dollars plus they’ll get a year-long “dream job” at Universal studios. Here’s FritoLay’s official announcement video: .
– FritoLay will begin accepting entries on September 12th, 2014.
– The deadline is November 9th, 2014.
– The contest will be semi-global again this year. You can enter if you live in any of these countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and The United States of Awesome.
– All entries must be uploaded and submitted via youtube.
– This year the CTSB judges will pick and publish 30 semi-finalists in late November. Every semi-finalist (that doesn’t go on to win a bigger prize) will win $1,000.
– On January 5th, 2015, FritoLay will announce UP TO 10 FINALISTS. (Rather than the usual 5!) All 10 finalists will get to go to the Super Bowl and 8 of the 10 finalists will receive $25,000 each.
– The “First Place winner ” will be selected by a panel of judges from FritoLay. The winning filmmaker will receive $50,000 and their commercial MAY air during the Super Bowl.
– The “Grand Prize Winner” will be determined by a public vote. The winner will receive $1,000,000 and their commercial will air during the big game. On top of that, the grand prize winner will also get a “dream job” as a consultant at Universal Studios in California.
I don’t think anyone was supposed to notice that the CTSB site was live yet. So more details will be revealed on Thursday when the company officially announces the return of the contest. As always, we’ll be posting lots of updates about The Crash so be sure to check back here 20 or 30 times a day for the next 5 months.
What’s your favorite candy? Licorice? Milky Ways? Gummi Bears? Well my favorite candy are those chocolate covered marshmallow pumpkins that some stores sell around Halloween. It’s a tough “favorite candy” because like I said, you can only get them for a few weeks a year. Sure, most stores also sell chocolate covered marshmallow Santas, hearts and Easter eggs but they’re just not the same. Plus there are no good candy-related holidays during the summer. So the last few months have been pretty tough for me. But a few days ago I was at Walgreens and saw that they were already putting out their Halloween stuff. I went to the end of the isle and there they were! Row after row of chocolate covered marshmallow pumpkins! I guess they’ve gotten pretty popular because there were even a bunch of new flavors like “pecan pie” and “red velvet.”
I snagged a few of these wonderful little guys and headed to the register. While I waited in line I started thinking about all the crazy new pumpkin flavors I would inevitably try this season. And then I looked down by the register and a very different kind of new-flavor combination caught my eye. It was a bag of cappuccino flavored Lays potato chips.
A flash of revulsion quickly gave way to confusion; why would Lays create such a disturbing flavor of chips? Then it hit me; this must be one of the finalists in Lays’ 2014 “Do Us a Flavor” contest.
I checked Lays’ website when I got home and it turns out that the company has already picked their four finalist flavors. They are Cappuccino, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Wavy Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger. All four flavors were based on ideas submitted by fans. Lays is now producing these new combinations and though the website says that voting started in late July, this was the first time I’ve seen the chips in the wild.
The flavor that gets the most votes will win a million dollars OR 1% of the net sales generated by that flavor between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, whichever is greater. The other three finalists will get $50,000 each. I think it’s safe to say that Bacon Mac & Cheese is pretty much a shoo-in but if you’d like to vote anyway, head here: www.dousaflavor.com Just be aware that your votes will automatically be posted on your facebook page.
Post-Script: I know this post has nothing to do with video contests but it’s a huge contest so I figured I’d write about it anyway.
Post Script 2: Next time you’re at Walgreens could pick me up some marshmallow pumpkins? I snapped a cell phone pic so feel free to use it as a reference guide. Pumpkins from box numbers 2, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 13 will be acceptable. Thanks.