Frito-Lay wants you to break some crazy Doritos-themed world records

I think the folks over at Frito-Lay were getting pretty sick of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Those poor people have been watching cheesy homemade ads about Doritos-loving zombies, dogs and ninjas for almost ten years.  The marketing team must have been dying to make a change because the company started promoting Doritos NEW crowdsourcing initiative a few hours before The Crash actually came to an end.  On Super Bowl Sunday, Doritos hoisted a bunch of football fans 137 feet in the air in front of Levi’s Stadium so that they could break set the world record for the “Highest Suspended Football Party.”



This ridiculous exciting stunt was the official kick-off of Doritos’ new BIG BOLD 50 campaign.  For the next 11 months, the company will help fans break set 50 crazy, Dorito-themed world records.  The whole thing is meant to celebrate Doritos’ 50th anniversary.  Via the sponsor:

“50 years of DORITOS means 50 DORITOS World Records.  We call this celebration Bold 50.  Because when DORITOS does anniversaries, we do them BIG and BOLD.”

“Doritos will create new records for consumers to break, such as the highest location from which to eat Doritos chips or building the tallest house of cards using Doritos chips”

I keep saying that Doritos fans will “set” rather than break these records because obviously these records are all made up.  That’s probably why the people over at Guinness aren’t involved in this.  All of these chip-themed records will be verified by the website RecordSetter.com.

Bold 50 has been up and running for almost two months but very few details have been released yet.  The website is pretty empty and it doesn’t explain how you can break the records or what you’ll receive if you do.  But there is a radically BOLD form you can fill out if you’d like to receive super extreme updates about future record contests:  https://www.doritosbold50.com

Behold the glory of my fake gold Dorito

I’ve been covering the Crash the Super Bowl contest since 2009 and over the last 5 1/2 years I’ve written over 100 articles about the contest.  I’ve given Doritos so much free publicity that I think I deserve a medal for all my hard work.  And I guess the folks at Frito-Lay agree because last week I was honored to receive the highly coveted “Golden” Dorito….

gold dorito
Yum.

Ok, it’s not really an award.  And I didn’t get it because of my kick ass blogging skills.  A few weeks ago I received this message via e-mail:

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Subject: WINNER/ Crash the Super Bowl Voting Sweepstakes

CONGRATULATIONS!

You were identified as a potential winner of the following prize in the Crash the Super Bowl Voting Sweepstakes, pending verification against the Official Rules.

3rd Prize: MerlinGold DORITOS® chip replica

On behalf of Frito-Lay, Inc., thanks for participating in the promotion!

—-

Usually I get pretty excited when I receive an email that includes the words “WINNER” and “CONGRATULATIONS” but this particular email just left me confused.  I didn’t even realize that you could win prizes for voting in the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  I checked the rules and apparently there were thousands of prizes at stake.  Five people won tickets to the Super Bowl, eight people each won a single ounce of gold (estimated value, $1,076), a thousand people won “gold-plated” Doritos (ARV $31) and another thousand people won a replica of the gold Dorito (ARV $28.77).

That last prize is what I won.  It would have been nice to get an ounce of gold but I’m actually very happy with my fake gold Dorito.  The Crash the Super Bowl contest was a big part of my life so it’s kind of nice to have a small, non-digital memento of the competition.  Having said that, I wonder what would happen if I plunked this thing into the Coinstar machine at my local grocery store.  It would be awesome if it spit out $28.77 worth of real Doritos.

What does the good side of the Internet look like?

Trend Micro is a company that makes men’s razors specializes in keeping people and data safe on the Internet.  For the last four years they’ve been holding their annual “What’s Your Story” video contest and the 2013 winners were just announced.  In the past, this competition focused on topics like cyber-bullying and the abuse of new technology.  But this year Trend Micro asked contestants to answer just one question:  What does the good side of the Internet look like?  I tried to enter this one but they didn’t accept my video…probably because I didn’t actually create it.  I just sent them a link to this video.  I think it demonstrates the good side of the Internet better than I ever could.



A panel of Shark Cat hating judges picked the winners and to be frank, they’re kinda dull so I’m not going to post them.  After I saw the videos that won I decided not to cover the results of this contest but then I realized it would be a good excuse to post that funny cat/dog/duck/roomba video.  So here we are.

The two grand prize winners each won $10,000 and a few runners up each got $1,000.  If you want to see them head here:  http://whatsyourstory.trendmicro.com/winners  Or if you’d like to see the “Good Side of the Internet” video I almost posted instead of the Shark Cat video, click here.

What is Vote Farming?

Last week I posted a story about a man who lost a $100,000 contest prize after he was disqualified for “vote farming.”  The ex-winner was a lawyer and he was considering a lawsuit because he felt the contest’s official rules were ambiguous and vague.  He did get the most votes but it seems he didn’t get the right kind of votes.  Here’s what the rules actually said:

“offering prizes or other inducements to members of the public, vote farming, or any other activity that artificially inflates such finalists votes as determined by sponsor in its sole discretion.”

While I was writing my story about the disqualified lawyer I tried to look up the definition of “vote farming” but I apparently there isn’t one.   Seriously.  Wikipedia, the Urban Dictionary and 10 pages of google results turned up nothing.  It seems to be a brand new term that has just started to appear in online contest rules.  Since I’m pretty familiar with the concept behind Vote Farming I thought I’d offer a definition of my own:

Vote Farming:  The practice of earning votes in an online contest by trading votes with friends or strangers who are competing in other online contests.

How Vote Farming Works:  One contestant will post voting instructions and a link to their entry on a “Vote Exchange” website, Facebook page or forum.  A second contestant will vote for that entry.  They will then post a screen shot or a vote number as proof that they voted.  They will also post their own contest link.  The original poster will “Return the Favor” (RTF) and vote for the other person’s entry.  After the swap is complete, each contestant has gained one vote in their respective contest and they have each cast one vote for someone else.  The more votes a person casts, the more votes they gain.

Here’s an example of a “Vote Request” looks like:

I’ve tried Vote Swapping myself and I’ve found it to be a very successful (but time consuming) tactic.  There’s a whole online community of people who win lots of contests thanks to Vote Swapping.  A hardcore Vote Swapper will spend hours and hours and hours voting for other people’s entries and they can earn hundreds of votes a week.  This practice has presumably been dubbed “Vote Farming” because it’s very similar to a tactic known as “Gold Farming.”  Gold Farmers are people who repetitively play Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing games (like World of Warcraft) just to collect gold or weapons that they can sell to other players for real money.  Selling in-game items for real cash is usually against the rules.  A player can gold farm for themselves but the practice violates the spirit of the game.  And the same thing goes for Vote Farming.  When a contestant gains a ton of votes thanks to vote swapping, they aren’t really doing anything unethical.  All of their votes are coming from real people so it’s hard to argue that a Vote Farmer is a cheater.  But trading votes goes against the spirit of an online contest.  The technique is kind of like a cheating loophole.  Yes, all the votes are real but they’re junk votes.  Companies use online voting in their contests because they want to generate more traffic or facebook likes.  But a vote from a Vote Swapper is junk traffic.  The Swapper doesn’t pay attention to the content.  They just vote as fast as they can and then move on.

And that’s why a lot of sponsors are now banning Vote Farming.  They can get away with calling it cheating because the contestant is technically offering an “inducement” to get a stranger to vote for their entry.  If you’re in an online contest and you’re thinking of trying Vote Swapping be sure to READ THE RULES before you start.  If the rules say that you can’t trade votes, don’t do it.  I’ve heard several stories about contestants who were disqualified because they got caught posting their entry in a Vote Swapping forum.  So if you’re going to swap, swap with caution.

How much did the 2013 finalists spend on their Crash the Super Bowl entries?

FritoLay gets a crazy amount of free publicity from the Crash the Super Bowl contest because the media loves the idea that “average joes” can beat Madison avenue at their own game.  While it’s true that Doritos’ CTSB commercials have relatively microscopic budgets I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that these “consumer made” ads were created by amateurs.  Once in a while there will be a low budget success story like last year’s $20 ad “Man’s Best Friend” but the truth is that most of the people who make the finals are professional or semi-professional filmmakers who spend THOUSANDS of dollars to get to the Top 5.

Does that sound unfair?  Well, get over it because it’s not!  The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year and a million dollars in prize money is at stake.  So Doritos can’t pick commercials that look cheap or cheesy.  It takes money and talent to create a 30 second video that is technically good enough to air on television and I tip my hat to all the folks who have the cojones to do what it takes to win this contest.

So how much does it actually cost to make the Crash the Super Bowl finals?  Well Doritos always puts out some background info about the winners and sometimes they include the budgets of every commercial that makes the top 5.  You can check out the 2013 press page here but I’ll post some of the basic info that FritoLay provided.  Yes, the numbers in green indicate how much that person spent on their submission.

Spot: Goat 4 Sale
Creator: Ben Callner
Budget: $5,000
Occupation: Freelance Film Director
City/hometown: Decatur, GA

Spot: Road Chip
Creator: Tyler Dixon
Budget: $2,500
Occupation: Freelance writer/director
City: Los Angeles, CA and Lehi, UT

Spot: Fashionista Daddy
Creator: Mark Freiburger
Budget: $300
Occupation: Freelance Director
City: Los Angeles, CA

Spot: Express Checkout
Creator: Sasha Shemirani
Budget: $1,000
Occupation: Photographer
City: Los Angeles, CA

Spot: Fetch
Creator: Joe Taranto
Budget: $5,000
Occupation: Student/director
City: Los Angeles, CA

So….this is easily the most expensive group of Crash the Super Bowl finalists we’ve ever seen.  TWO entries cost more than $5,000(!) to produce and the others weren’t exactly shot on the cheap either.   It’s also worth noting that all but 4 of the 5 winners live in Los Angeles and 5 out of 5 of them listed their occupation as some kind of photographer or filmmaker.  Obviously anyone from anywhere in the US could make the Crash the Super Bowl finals but year after year we see that most of the winners are male filmmakers aged 20 to 40 from Southern California who spend more than $1,000 producing their submission. I’m not saying you need to move to LA if you want to win The Crash next year but if you come up with an amazing idea you’re probably going to have to spend a serious chunk of change on your video if you want to be a serious contender in this contest.