Pepsi Max wants to send you to Barcelona!

So are you sick of winter yet?  I know I sure am.  I’m in the midwest and the weather has been brutal since Thanksgiving.  We’ve had a string of below-zero days and we’ve already got at least of foot of snow on the ground.  And the fun has just begun!  I don’t want to bum you out but technically mid-December is still Autumn.  Winter doesn’t even officially begin until this saturday.

I don’t know about you but I’m not sure if I can handle four straight months of ice and snow and darkness.  If you’d like to escape all that for a few days this February you may want to enter Pepsi Max’s new Mofilm competition.  If you win the grand prize the company will send you and a friend to sunny Barcelona!  (Average February temperature is 57°F and snow is “unheard of.”)  There are a ton of big cash prizes at stake too.  First Prize also comes with $8,000 in cash.  Second Prize is $4,000, Third Prize is $2,000 and Forth and Fifth Prize are $1,000 each.

This competition is a little different than most video contests.  Pepsi Max doesn’t want straight-up commercials.  Instead, they want short films that tie in with the brand’s messaging.  Here’s a quick explanation of what they’re looking for:

Most people think no sugar means no taste when it comes to soft drinks – but that’s not the case! Pepsi Max somehow manages to achieve the same great taste but with no sugar.  It’s clever.  It’s almost unbelievable.

Pepsi want films that celebrate the unbelievable outcomes that can result from a bit of cleverness.  We’re not after ads, but real films that bring to life the spirit of unbelievable.

We don’t want a transformational story about how Pepsi Max makes you unbelievable, but an attitudinal story which brings the Pepsi Max spirit to life.  Your film must be about somebody whose story is a metaphor for the Pepsi Max narrative of an unbelievable outcome thanks to a little cleverness!  But in the same way that there is no trickery involved in the making of Pepsi Max, your idea should be real.

It could be somebody who makes ‘magic’ happen in a clever way mirroring the Pepsi Max story.  Like the guy who avoids getting caught by his wife after a late night out with mates by leaving his pyjamas by the front door so he can change when he gets back in and then walk backwards into the bedroom.  If she wakes up he can start walking towards the bathroom as if he had been in the room all the time.

That right there is why I like Mofilm so much.  Commercial contests are great but it’s awesome when a company wants to award filmmakers for creating fun, entertaining, un-branded short films.

There are some important restrictions and instructions in the contest brief so head here to read it:

The deadline for this particular contest is February 3rd, 2014.  You know….if you win first place maybe you can invite your pal Dan from VCN as your guest on the Barcelona trip!  Trust me, I’m a super fun traveling companion and I made it all the way through Spanish IV in high school so I’m practically bi-lingual.


Interview with Pepsi Max Crash the Super Bowl finalist, Kyle Stafford

Kyle battles a Doritos-loving kid in his 2012 Crash the Super Bowl entry, Switcheroo

When it was announced the Pepsi Max wasn’t going to be a part of this year’s Crash the Superbowl contest I was both disappointed and relived; disappointed because that meant there would be only 5 finalist slots instead of 10 and relived because the folks at Pepsi simply did not seem to get this contest.  The people at Doritos who created and run “The Crash” have spent years building up the reputation of this mega-contest and in one season, the Pepsi Max team came in and did serious damage to the CTSB “brand.”

Pepsi Max hurt the contest in a few ways but it all comes down to which videos they picked for the Top 5.  When the 2010/2011 contest was announced, the Pepsi team kept pushing the idea that Pepsi Max was a “manly” diet drink.  And so, hundreds of filmmakers shot ads that were aimed at selling Pepsi Max to men.  But somewhere along the way, Pepsi must have changed their marketing strategy for Pepsi Max.  Because when they announced their finalists, 4 of the top 5 videos were clearly aimed at selling Pepsi Max to women.  That upset quite a few people.  But that was nothing compared to the backlash when fans actually watched Pepsi Max’s finalist choices.  Two of them were embarrassingly bad and a third ad was very-expensive looking but it wasn’t especially funny. It aired during the big game and scored 24th on the USA Today Ad Meter…which I believe makes it the worst performing CTSB ad ever.

So Pepsi’s Top 5 were just not on par with the kind of ads that Doritos always picked. There were only two 2011 Pepsi Max Crash the Super Bowl finalists that I personally liked.  One was “Love Hurts” and the other was this ad entitled, First Date:

One thing the Pepsi Judges did that kind of impressed me was that they weren’t afraid to pick ads that didn’t have high-end production values. (Of course, I think this strategy backfired in one or two cases) First Date doesn’t look super slick and it wasn’t shot with a $18,000 Red Camera.  The thing it has going for it is great writing.  It’s clever and interesting and it’s aimed at both women AND men.  And best of all, it’s TRUE.  People connect with this idea because they have probably been in situations like the one depicted in the video. First Date wound up airing during the Super Bowl and despite the fact that this ad only cost about $25 to make, it was ranked the #7 best ad of the night on the USA Today ad meter poll.  It just goes to show you that good writing conquers all.

The man behind First Date is named Kyle Stafford and he plays “the guy” in the commercial.  It turns out that Kyle is a fan of VCN and he graciously agreed to answer some questions about his Crash the Super Bowl experiences.  And now, on with the interview:
VCN:  So Kyle, tell us about yourself.  Where are you from?  What do you do for a living?
KYLE:  I am from Northern California. A place called Rohnert Park, north of San Francisco. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara and came straight to LA to become a world famous writer/producer. Ten years later and I am now an Editor over at Warner Brothers. It’s actually not a bad gig, but I still write/produce on nights and weekends.. I am married and we have 2 sons. And they are actually all in this years CTSB commercial.
VCN:  Do you enter a lot of video contests?
KYLE:  This year will be out 4th year entering the Crash contest. Last year we actually made 3 commercials, 2 for Pepsi Max and 1 for Doritos. But besides this contest, we don’t really enter other contests.
VCN:  Do you remember why you entered the contest last year?
KYLE:  We actually were not going to enter last year, because we had entered the 2 previous years and thought we had pretty good entries and never got in, so we were all stubborn, like “screw it” we don’t need them.  Then we came to our senses and realized we did need them and we ended up making 3 spots. We actually thought a different entry was going to be the finalist. A spot called Pepsi Wedding, which you had in your Top 30 list. So when they called and said it was for First Date we were all kind of shocked.
VCN:  Tell us about how you created First Date.
KYLE:  A couple of friends and I have a comedy/skit website called, so we had been making content on and off together for about 2 years when we decided to enter the contest again. We hadn’t really put any thought into the commercials since we were not going to enter anything, but then when we decided to enter, we had almost no time, so we had to act quick. I got the idea in LA traffic, during an especially awful stretch on the 405. I just remember it making me laugh, so I called Nick Simotas and Robby Wells right away and told them the idea and they both laughed. Then I called my wife and she said there was no way we could say that during the Super Bowl. That’s when I knew we were going to make it. The ad cost about 25 dollars to make. We got the restaurant for free, got friends to be extras and shot the whole thing in about an hour. It isn’t the most complex commercial in the world, with no production audio and really only 3 camera angles. The 25 dollars was just to buy frozen dinners to put food on the plates as well as a pack of gum so the whole cast and crew could partake in a good chew. The actress opposite me is Julia Bellows, she is a super funny friend of ours that we have used in a bunch of our stuff.
VCN:  How and when did you find out that you made the 2011 finals?
KYLE: The people at Pepsi called us about 3 or 4 days before they posted the results…. The only reason they tell you in advance is to make sure you have all the correct actor/location releases and paperwork before they go through the process of making you a finalist. I was actually at work when they called, and we were not allowed to tell anyone until they posted, so I had to sit at work the rest of the day with this huge dopey grin on my face and I couldn’t tell anyone why.
VCN:  Did Pepsi Max ask you to keep the news to yourself?  How did your friends and family react when they heard the news?
KYLE:  Yeah, we were asked to keep the news under wraps until they posted the finalists. I think my friends and family thought I was kidding, most probably did until the second they saw it actually air during the game. Good thing my face was on it or nobody would have ever believed me.
VCN:  How was your trip to the Super Bowl?
KYLE:  Trip to the Super Bowl was amazing, we got to sit in a luxury box at the 40 yard line with catering and free booze. Dallas was freezing though, Pepsi had actually planned a bunch of cool events and parties to go to, but we had to cancel a good amount because it was really hard to get around, but we got to go to the Pepsi Jam concert thing with Kid Rock and Duran Duran. So the whole trip was pretty surreal, being whisked away to events and having VIP passes. Usually I am working catering at those things, so it was cool to sit back and enjoy it all.
VCN:  Your commercial wound up playing very late in the game.  How did it feel when it finally ran?
KYLE:  Yeah, they don’t tell you if you’re going to air until you see it on the TV, so every commercial break is pretty intense. They aired 5 of the 6 ads in the first quarter, so only one ad was going to air the rest of the game, so then we had to sit through every commercial break until about the middle of the 4th quarter. They actually ended up airing our ad on the Dallas Stadium jumbo-tron, which is the biggest jumbo-tron in the world I think, so my already giant head was spread out over a 60 yard TV. We actually thought at that point our ad was not going to air on TV, thinking the Jumbo-tron was a consolation prize or something. But then the time came and it aired and Nick and I freaked out and hugged, it was a pretty cool moment. I think Nick had a roll of quarters in his pocket.
VCN:  First Date did amazingly well on the ad meter.  In came in 7th.  Did you expect to rank so high?  Even though you didn’t “land in the money” were you happy with how your commercial performed?
KYLE:  The ad did a lot better then we thought it would. We didn’t expect it to rank so high, but I think in the sea of slick over-produced ads, I think we were kind of novel in that our ad was so insanely simple and true. The biggest thing we kept hearing was how true our ad was and I think people were laughing at the truth of the guy/girl thing. It’s funny, landing in the money was never even a thought for us, we just wanted it to air, then when we saw we came so close, you start thinking “Damn! We almost got like 400 grand.” and you start to get bummed, but then we shook ourselves and remembered we were at the Superbowl and had an ad that we created that just aired in front of 110 million people and we perked up. And Nick said he had a roll of dimes now.
VCN:  Were you surprised that Pepsi Max wasn’t part of the Crash the Super Bowl contest this year?
KYLE:  Yeah I was surprised, if you look back at last year, Pepsi had 2 of the top 7 ads on the Ad Meter. If you were a real ad agency and you could point to those kind of results they would be getting bonuses, but I am sure the people at Pepsi Max know a little more than I do about soda marketing, so I am sure they have their reasons.  But it sucks having the finalists basically cut into half. Makes it that much harder to win.
VCN:  How did making the CTSB finals change your life?
KYLE:  Being a finalist in CTSB was a super cool experience, but I wouldn’t say it has changed my life.  It is a really nice story to tell and legitimizes us a little with Hollywood producer types, but nobody is knocking down our door for all our content. I got recognized a little right afterward, a few people asked me if I was that guy on TV or I would be at the store and you would see someone staring at me like they knew me from somewhere but couldn’t quite figure out from where. I had a kid want a picture with me at the game. I told him “When you go back through these pictures you are gonna be like ‘Who the hell is this guy in my photo album?”
VCN: Did you enter the contest again this year? 
Yeah, we entered in again this year. I included my whole family in this year’s ad. You can tell we broke the bank again on this ad. This one actually didn’t cost anything:
Thanks for your site and good luck to all the entrants. Keep making stuff!!!!
VCN:  And thank you for your time.  Good Luck this year!

The five most over-done Crash the Super Bowl ideas

Never use the Crash the Super Bowl contest as a chance to see your buddy's girlfriend topless

Man, time really files when you’re trying to come up with a great idea for a Doritos commercial!  There’s now less than two weeks left until the deadline for the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  So it’s Crunch Time, folks! (pun intended).  But before you rush out and start filming, the first step in making a great Doritos commercial is research.  Obviously, you should watch all the entries that won the previous installments of the Crash.  But you should also try and figure out which concepts have already been done to death.  While running this site, I’ve had the opportunity to watch literally thousands of Crash the SuperBowl entries.  And there are a few common, played-out gimmicks that I see used over and over and over again.  So I am going to do you a gigantic favor and list the Top 5 most over-used Crash the Super Bowl ideas!  Every year, Dortios gets tons of videos that have almost identical plots and gags.  The ideas might be new to the person who wrote the script but to the judges they are tired and totally unoriginal.  So if you want to stand out from the crowd, here are the five concepts that you need to avoid.  For each concept I’ll include an example and I’ll try to only post high-quality entries so you can see that even good production values won’t make these ideas seem fresh:
1.  Doritos as “paper” footballs

Hey, have you ever noticed that a Dorito kind of looks like a paper football?  If so, you’re not alone because apparently a lot of people have noticed that!  Over the last five years, I bet fritolay has received hundreds of CTSB entries that featured Doritos being used as “paper footballs.”  I’m guessing this idea is so popular because a paper football is about the only small, triangular object most people can think of.  What’s crazy about this particular idea is that pretty much every Paper Football entry has the same plot.  There is a tense and dramatic stand off between two competitors.  The chip is “kicked” in slow motion but at the last second, there’s a twist!  Someone jumps into frame and blocks the kick by catching the chip in their mouth.

I’ve been watching the new batch of submissions and already I have seen more than one version of this idea.  But this concept is just too obvious.  If a Paper Football-themed ad did make the finals, you’d have a hundred people coming forward claiming that the winners stole their idea!
2.  Dressing up in a giant Doritos costume

This weekend, dozens of filmmakers across the country will go into their garages and apply the finishing touches to their homemade, giant Doritos costumes.  Some of them will just be a single, orange sheet of poster board.  Others will be meticulous, high quality suits that are made of foam and finished with an air-brushing of realistic orange and brown paint.  But if Frito-lay hasn’t picked a CTSB finalist that featured a guy dressed as a Dorito by now, they are never going to.  That’s because no matter how much work a person puts into their Dorito costume, the gag is just too easy.  Think of it like this; if Bud Light made a Super Bowl commercial where the joke was that the characters were in homemade Bud Light suits, how do you think that commercial would do on the USA Today ad meter?
3.  Zombies!

This idea has been totally done to death.  (Pun intended again!)  If you head to the Crash the Super Bowl gallery and watch 50 videos in a row, I bet you’d see at least one zombie-themed entry.  In fact, I just searched the gallery for the word “zombie” and there are already five submissions with the word zombie in the title!

It’s easy to understand why Dortios gets so many zombie videos though.  Zombies are super popular and the costumes are really easy to make.  But it’s fascinating how similar all these zombie ads are.  I’ll break down a typical story for you; a group of friends are running from hungry zombies.  The friends get trapped and the zombies attack.  But they don’t eat the people.  It turns out one of them has Doritos and that’s what the zombies were after the whole time!  Oh but once the Doritos run out, the zombies then turn on the people.  The whole plot is so popular among video contest filmmakers that I did an entire blog post about the “Zombie Fake Out” trope.  So even though zombie make up is probably 90% off right now at Walmart, resist the temptation to shoot a chip commercial about the undead.
4.  Doritos as Mousetrap bait

Doritos are cheesy. So what do people do with cheese? Pretty much just two things; they either eat it or they catch mice with it. (seriously, try and think of something else you can do with cheese) A lot of CTSB filmmakers have made this connection over the years. In fact, one of them even made it to the super bowl thanks to this concept. Way back in 2006, Fritolay picked an ad named “MouseTrap” as one of the finalists in the very first installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  I’m sure you remember the commercial because it was so good that five years later, Doritos is still airing the spot on TV!  In the ad, a man in a suit puts a piece of a dorito on a mousetrap.  He then gets pummeled by a very angry guy in a mouse suit.  The ad is so ubiquitous that it’s hard to believe that CTSB contestants keep doing gags about Doritos as mouse trap bait.  Sometimes the mouse traps are small and sometimes the mousetraps are giant.  Sometimes the mouse traps are meant for mice but usually they are meant for people.  But no matter what kind of spin a filmmaker puts on this idea, it simply has already been done perfectly by a previous Crash the Super Bowl winner.  For example, the moustrap video I posted above is actually pretty awesome. It even won a prize in Poptent’s video contest “Second Chance” assignment.  The way the giant robots lumber slowly in the distance is just perfect. If it hadn’t been for the previous “Mousetrap” ad I think this robot entry could have made the finals last year. But the Crash is all about getting new, off the wall ideas so Doritos isn’t going to pick a finalist that features a “device” that’s already been used.
5.  A “Sexy” Doritos Seduction

Let’s end on an over-done idea that I don’t mind so much; the Sexy Doritos seduction.  These entries always play out the same way.  A husband gets home after a hard day at work to find a trail of Doritos on the floor.  He follows the trail and it leads to the bedroom.  He opens the door to find his wife laying naked in bed…with only Doritos covering up her girly bits!  Of course, sometimes the concept is flipped around and it’s a goofy looking dude laying in a bed full of Doritos. Either way, this gag is extremely common. Shoot an entry like this and all you’ll get for your troubles is a set of orange sheets.
If you’ve ever shot a Crash the Super Bowl entry about any of the ideas I just listed, I’m sorry if I offended you!  I understand what it’s like to work hard on a video contest entry only to later realize that it was kind of unoriginal.  But hopefully this post will help a few filmmakers avoid common, over-done ideas that simply don’t have much chance of winning.

When will the 2012 Crash the Super Bowl contest be announced?

It might still be early August but it’s already starting to feel a little bit like Fall.  Every year, as the summer starts to wind down I see a steady climb in traffic to this website and it can always be attributed to one thing; filmmakers looking for news about Doritos’ upcoming Crash the Super Bowl contest.  I can even tell what search terms readers put into google to get here and already I’m seeing lots of “keyword phrases” like:  will doritos do crash the superbowl 2012, doritos superbowl contest, super bowl commercial contest 2012 and crash the superbowl XLVI. And those are just from the last 12 hours!

So video contest filmmakers are certainly ready to “Crash” the Super Bowl.  But is Fritolay?  Will the contest even be brought back for 2012?  The answer is YES.  I have confirmation that the CTSB contest will be run again for the 2011/2012 season.  In fact, Fritolay and Pepsico have been planning for this installment since before the last Crash was even finished.  Here’s a little blurb about the 2012 contest from an article that ran in USA Today right after Super Bowl 35 in February.  The story was about how some companies were trying to get extra mileage out of their Super Bowl ads by releasing them online before the big game:

The brands are “rethinking” the Crash the Super Bowl promo for the 2012 game in a way that will involve more social media, says Rudy Wilson, marketing vice president at Frito-Lay.

Really it’s no surprise that Doritos would bring the contest back for 2012 since the last installment was such a big hit.  But the “social media” stuff worries me a bit.  I hope to God it doesn’t mean people will be voting for entries on facebook!

So now that you know the Crash is on for sure, the new question is, when can you start filming?  Well, not for a few more weeks.  The full details of the contest should be announced in mid-September and the submission period will probably begin about 2 weeks later and run until early November  Oh but there is one detail I can mention.  From what I have read, it looks like once again the Crash will have two categories and you can shoot an ad for Doritos And/or an ad for a Pepsi product. (I suspect it will be Pepsi Max again.)

If you’ve stumbled across this website while looking for details about this year’s CTSB contest, be sure to bookmark us and check back often for updates. is the ONLY site on the web that actively covers the Crash as it unfolds.  Also, if you’re too anxious to wait to get to work, maybe you should check out the details of Chevy’s new consumer-generated Super Bowl commercial contest:

9/7/2011 UPDATE: Yesterday the NFL announced the details of some of the long term deals they had struck with advertisers. And they confirmed that Fritolay will once again be running the crash the Super Bowl contest this year. So you can expect the contest to be officially announced very soon! Here’s the full (but brief) story:

Yet another Crash the Super Bowl controversy

Ok, this is starting to get really dumb.  I could see this happening once or twice, but three times in one season?  In December the blogosphere was calling for a boycott of Doritos after some Christians saw a random Crash the Super Bowl entry called “Feed Your Flock” that seemed to mock communion and assumed it was the company’s official super bowl ad.  Then about 2 weeks ago the Internet freaked out again after two random, non-winning, gay-themed Crash the Super Bowl entries were mistakenly reported to be Doritos’ official Super Bowl commercials.  None of those ads ever had a chance in hell of airing on TV so people were pretty much getting worked up over nothing.

But now, according to MSNBC, one of the actual commercials that did win the Crash the Super Bowl contest has managed to set the internet “on fire with a growing backlash.”  The ad at the center of the controversy is entitled Love Hurts and was directed by a 28 year-old filmmaker named Brad Bosley.  (it was actually one of my favorite ads to make the finals.)  You probably saw this when it aired during the first quarter of the Super Bowl on sunday but here it is again:

Now here are the different reasons why people are upset about this commercial:

1.  The ad promotes negative stereotypes about black women. This is the big one.  Some people feel that the ad portrays black women as being violent, controlling  and jealous.

2.  The ad promotes negative stereotypes about black men.  Some feel that the commercial makes black men look like spineless wusses who let their wives push them around and who can’t resit the temptation of a pretty white girl.

3.  The ad is an example of reverse racism.  This is a less popular argument but some people think the the ad is anti-white because a black character hits a white character possibly because she was white.

As I said, complaint #1 is the big one that’s going around.  Here’s the MSNBC story about the controversy.

I gotta wonder, is that woman in that clip actually offended or did she just use this “controversy” as an opportunity to repeatedly plug her book?  Anyways, the story is all over the place; The LA Times blog, NPR, Essence Magazine’s site….even Rush Limbaugh stopped shoving pills and pie into his mouth long enough to talk about the ad. (except Rush said the “Love Hurts” was successful because black women really do hate blonds)  But this morning this story plunged even deeper into the crazy-zone when Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) took the floor of the congress to criticize this ad as racist.  Let me repeat that in bold, red font:

Today, a United States congresswoman denounced a video contest entry from the floor of the House of Representatives.

And man…I thought making it to the Super Bowl was the big time!  Now if you think that’s insane, wait ’till you hear the kicker.  No one in the media seems to realize that Love Hurts was a consumer-made ad!  I guess a lot of Super Bowl viewers didn’t catch that Pepsi Max was part of the Crash the Super Bowl contest this year.  So all the people who are pissed about this are criticizing Pepsi Max for intentionally making a “racist” commercial.  I mean, I even saw one blogger who said that Pepsi intentionally cast an unattractive African American because the character was supposed to be the bad guy.  For God’s sake, I’ve seen a number of people who are upset that “pepsi” cast a dark-skinned African American because they assume that Pepsi must think that darker-skinned black women are meaner and more controlling than lighter-skinned black women!

Anyone who took the time to figure out who made “Love Hurts” would realize that those accusations are totally baseless.  I’m not sure where Love Hurts was filmed but apparently the director is from Kansas.  Would some dude in Kansas with no budget actually sit and conspire to cast certain types of people to get across some secret and offensive narrative?  Or is it more likely he just cast whoever he could get?  Hell, I bet the hot blond will turn out to be his cousin or something.

For the third time this winter, Fritolay had to put out a statement explaining that one of their “commercials” was actually made by a consumer as part of a video contest.  However, it does sound like Pepsi was aware that the ad might stir up some trouble.  Here’s part of what they said.

“We vetted this ad with our external ethnic advisory board as well as nationally recognized community activists and leaders all of whom believed the ad highlights the key product attributes in a humorous way.”

Interesting. Anyways, I hope this is the last Crash the Super Bowl “controversy’ post I do this season. What’s ironic is that I thought Love Hurts was kind of a progressive ad because the director seemed to engage in color-blind casting. This will sound kind of goofy but I thought it was cool that two characters of different races could engage in slapstick without everybody freaking out. Yeah…guess I was wrong about that one.  I also thought the ad had kind of a sweet message to it; the woman isn’t messing with the guy because she’s mean.  She’s messing with him because she loves him and wants him to not die.  Watch the ad again.  That dude was trying to eat a whole pie by himself.  If anyone could benefit from some tough love, it’s him!

2/10 Update: Ok, this is funny.  Check the comments to this post for an anecdote about the filming of Love Hurts.  One of our readers was actually filming his CTSB entry in the same park in LA at the same time as the Love Hurts crew.  And Love Hurts was definitely no amateur production.  I checked and the budget of the ad was only $800 though.  So why the director cast the actors he did is a mystery.  Thinking about it, if he had cast a really old couple I bet the ad would have landed in the Top 3 on the ad meter.  Old people hurting young people is always a crowd-pleaser.

2/11 Update: The actor from Love Hurts left a great comment to this post last night.  He gave some insight into the the production, the director’s intentions and the controversy.  If you’ve read this far, please click the comments button to check it out!