Doritos announces the FINAL installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest!


After nine years, 8 installments, 32,000 entries and $7,000,000 in prizes, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo have finally decided to retire the Crash the Super Bowl contest….after they run it just one more time!  Here’s what Frito-Lay’s VP of marketing Jeff Klein said about the company’s plans for 2016:

“We’re giving consumers one last shot to make their mark and see their homemade ads air during the Super Bowl broadcast,” J, said in a statement. “This is truly last call for all of those who not only want a shot at $1 million — but want a chance to jump-start their career in Hollywood.”

Frito-Lay claims that this will be the “most audacious” installment yet but it seems like they’ve actually scaled back the promotion this year.  Doritos usually picks 5 finalists and gives them each $25,000 and sends them to the Super Bowl.  Then Doritos airs at least two fan-made ads and the directors win either $1,000,000 (if they won the online voting) or $500,000 (if their ad was picked by the judges).  But this year there will only be 3 finalists and only one of their ads will make it to air.

But there is some good news here; this year there will be 50 semi-finalists and each one of them will $2,000.  I think that’s a great way to spread the fun (and wealth) around a little.  The finalists are getting bigger prizes too.  Instead of $25,000, the two non-winning finalists will recive $100,000 a piece.  And finally the grand prize winner will a get million bucks PLUS they’ll be offer an “epic gig” working with Zach Snyder, DC comics and Warner Brothers.

Because this is sorta the 10th anniversary of the CTSB contest (it was first launched in the fall of 2006) I had a feeling Doritos would be retiring the promotion this year.  Consumer-Generated content just isn’t as raw and exciting as it used to be.  Nine years ago it was big news that an “average Joe” would get to see his commercial air during the Super Bowl.  But we live in a viral culture now and we’re all used to the idea that some regular guy or gal from Nowheresville, Oklahoma can be a “star.”  Plus technology has advanced a lot in 10 years and some homemade ads look just as good as “real” TV commercials.  So the cutesy, low-budget gimmick became irrelevant a long time ago.

But ultimately it was probably money that killed the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  This year CBS is raising the price of 30-second Superbowl ads from $4.5 Million to $5 to $6 Million a piece.  It’s just too risky for FritoLay to buy $12,000,000 of ad time and then HOPE that they get at least two great, Super Bowl-worthy ads every year.

So it’s kinda too bad that the contest is ending but I do think that Frito-Lay made the right call.  I also think it was a genius move to announce the end of the contest before running the final installment.  The last CTSB contest ever is going to garner a huge amount of attention and I think the competition this year will be fierce.

The Crash the Super Bowl rules are already up and it looks like the site is actually excepting entries.  But I’d hold off on shooting anything for now.  You’ve got a long, long time to get your ideas ready; the deadline for entries is November 15th, which, according to the little counter at the top of the contest site, is 66 days, 2 hours and 20 minutes from now:

Did CBS just kill the 2016 Crash the Super Bowl contest?

Above: A small business owner buys a 30-second super bowl ad for his car wash

It’s only been about 6 weeks since Doritos announced the grand prize winner of the 2015 Crash the Super Bowl contest but filmmakers are already contacting me and asking for information about the 2016 competition.  I always tell people that it’s a bad idea to shoot an entry in the spring because there’s always a chance that FritoLay could change the rules or decide to retire the promotion.

And at this point, I would say that the odds that Doritos will run the Crash again this year are only about 50-50.  The quality of the entries has gone down and the concept doesn’t really feel fresh any more.  And neither one of this year’s Doritos commercials were especially popular.  Middle Seat got some buzz because it won the Million Dollar Grand Prize but the runner-up ad, When Pigs Fly was immediately forgotten by the public.  On top of that, FritoLay has started to produce their own Doritos commercials again.  I think that’s a sign that we may be moving into a post-CTSB era because for years Doritos would only air ads that won their annual commercial contest.

So I think the Crash’s days are numbered.  I figured FritoLay would probably run it one more time since 2016 marks the 10 year anniversary of the first installment of the contest.  But the President and CEO of CBS, Les Moonves, may have recently killed the contest for good.  CBS will be airing the big game next year and according to The Daily Mail, the network plans to raise the price of a 30-second Super Bowl ad from $4.5 Million to $5 to 6 Million.

Six Million dollars would be a 30% increase and ad exes are already complaining that the price tag is way too high.  If CBS sticks with these numbers, major brands will probably have to skip the Super Bowl or at least cut back on the number of ads they buy.  That means the folks over at FritoLay will have to decide if the Crash the Super Bowl contest is still worth the money.  When they first launched the contest, a 30-second super bowl ad only cost $2.5 Million dollars.  But this year, ad slots were selling for $4.5 Million a piece.  I’m going to guess that big companies like FritoLay get a healthy discount for buying multiple ad slots but still, it does seem kinda crazy to spend ten to twelve million bucks to air two mediocre commercials that each cost less than $1,000 to produce.

So do I really think the Crash the Super Bowl contest is going to be cancelled this year?  Eh…probably not.  But I have a feeling the sponsor will have to scale things back for 2016.  Instead of running the Grand Prize winner and the runner-up, they’ll probably only show the commercial that wins the online vote.

Which Doritos ads will Crash the Super Bowl on Sunday?

Two of these ads will air during The Super Bowl on Sunday.  But which two!??!

Super Bowl XLIX is still three days away but a whole buttload of Super Bowl commercials appeared online this week.  Did you see that Godaddy ad about the lady who sells the puppy?  Crap like that is one reason why I transferred my web hosting away from Godaddy.  On the flip side, that Snickers ad with Danny Trejo is going to go down as one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time.  But that’s not surprising because Danny Trejo can do no wrong.

So what about Doritos?  Frito-Lay never reveals which Crash the Super Bowl ads are going to air so for now we’ll just have to make some educated guesses.  One of the winning commercials was picked via an online vote.  So let’s take a look at the view counts for all 10 finalists and see which ones were popular:

Lemonade Stand: 488,387 Views
Baby’s First Word: 475,221 Views
Middle Seat:  470,870 Views
What Could Go Wrong?:  429,607 Views
Trouble in the Back Seat:  423,582 Views
Doritos Angler: 413,067 Views
When Pigs Fly:  402,214 Views
Selfish Sneezers:  388,147 Views
Doritos Manchild:  379,307 Views
MissSpelling Bee: 373,552 Views

The numbers are pretty close here and there’s no clear landslide winner.  But I think Lemonade Stand will wind up winning the public vote.  I remember one year about 750,000 votes were cast in the CTSB contest so “get out the vote” campaigns don’t really have much affect.  Even if a contestant went on the local news and managed to get 1,000 extra people to vote for him, most of the votes in this contest will come from people who watch a few entries and then pick their favorite.  And since Lemonade Stand is objectively the best ad in the bunch, I think it’s going to win the million dollar grand prize.

Second place is a little harder to predict.  The second ad will be picked by the judges at Frito-Lay and I wouldn’t be surprised if they selected one of the weirder finalists.  Middle Seat is a great ad too but it contains a quick joke about Irritable Bowl Syndrome.  It’s a cheap shot that would upset a lot of people so I think that one joke will keep Middle Seat off the air.  And I can say with almost 100% confidence that there’s no way in hell that Trouble in the Back Seat will air.  That’s because AdWeek noticed something that I pointed out weeks ago; Trouble in the Back Seat was a little too similar to this Award-Winning European commercial:

Is Trouble in the Back Seat a rip off?  I can’t say for sure.  But FritoLay isn’t going to spend 4.5 Million dollars to air a commercial that MIGHT be based on a stolen idea.

The remaining ads are either too gross for the Super Bowl (Selfish Sneezers, MissSpelling Bee) or just not very original.  So I’m going to go out a limb here and predict that the judges will give second place to What Could Go Wrong?

I like this one because it’s cute and has a nice, low budget feel. Plus it has a weird and shocking ending.  The folks at Frito-Lay want two things here; they want people to re-watch the CTSB ads online and they want viewers to tweet and post about the commercials right after they air.  And What Could Go Wrong? Will accomplish both of those goals.  Plus the director of the ad has a great backstory….

Good Luck to all the finalists.  I’ll post the results of the Crash during the game so check back here if you miss any of the winners.

Doritos reveals a strange slate of Crash the Super Bowl finalists

crashthesuperbowlfinalistsThe first Monday after January 1st is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love Christmas and I always have a lot of fun on New Year’s Eve but the rest of late December is excruciatingly boring.  It’s just dark and cold and everything is closed and the whole world is at a standstill.  But thankfully the holidays are officially behind us which means we can all finally get back to work.  And the first item on the agenda for 2015 is the Crash the Super Bowl contest!  This morning FritoLay’s picks for the finals were revealed in a short segment on the Today show.  You can see the full clip here and I suggest you watch it just so you can see the AGONY on Carson Daley’s face as he’s forced to read a “news story” that’s obviously just a big commercial for Doritos.

Out of 4,900 entries and 29 semi-finalists, these are the 10 entries that will advance to the finals.

1. “Doritos Angler” by James Bedford, UK
2. “Baby’s First Word” by Travis Braun, USA
3. “Selfish Sneezers” by Devon Ferguson, Canada
4. “The Lemonade Stand” by David Horowitz, USA
5. “Trouble in the Back Seat” by Jason Johnson, USA
6. “Mis-Spelling Bee” by Brian Kleinschmidt, USA
7. “What Could Go Wrong?” by Alex Pepper, USA
8. “Doritos Manchild” by Armand de Saint-Salvy, Australia
9. “When Pigs Fly” by Graham Talbot, Canada
10. “Middle Seat” by Scott Zabielski, USA

This list is really a mixed bag (pun intended).  The quality of these entries is all over the place and there are some very weird choices here.  A few of these ads are bad, a few are boring and a few are good.  None of them are horribly terrible but on the other hand, none of them are amazingly great.

FritoLay has run the Crash the Super Bowl contest 8 times now and this is the first year that they’ve picked more than 5 or 6 finalists.   I think the organizers decided to expand the list of finalists so they could include a few international entries on the list.  Very few GOOD entries came from people outside of the US but it wouldn’t look right if all the finalists in Doritos “global” contest were Made in America.  Plus the inclusion of a few entries from the UK, Canada and Australia ensures that the media in those countries will probably promote their local finalists.  So including mediocre international entries is a clever way to get a lot of free publicity.  And the tactic is already working.  Just take a look at some of the CTSB stories that were published online today….


Everyone loves a little free publicity but FritoLay is playing a dangerous game here.  By expanding the number of finalists the judges have increased the chances that a bad or embarrassing ad will air during the Super Bowl.  Two fan-made Doritos commercials are going to air during the big game. One will be picked by the judges and the other will be picked via an online vote.  So what will happen if this video from Canada gets the most votes and makes it to air?

I still don’t understand how that entry made the semi-finals and I’m stunned that it actually advanced to the top 10.  It’s one of the grossest commercials I’ve ever seen and it certainly doesn’t make me hungry for Doritos.  Can you imagine how twitter and facebook would react to such a disguesting commercial?  Or how about this ad from the UK?

People do not want to hear loud, annoying screams during a TV commercial.  Thousands of people across the country would be tweeting and posting that “this screaming Doritos fish needs to STFU!” before the ad was even over.

I’ve always believed that the Crash the Super Bowl contest was 100% fair and on the level.  But this slate of finalists has me wondering if maybe FritoLay has the ability to somehow manipulate the votes or alter the results if they don’t like the ad that “the public” selects.  I just can’t imagine that a multi-billion dollar corporation would really spend four million dollars to air a commercial during the Super Bowl that features a bunch of dudes spraying snot all over the delicious chips they’re trying to sell.

Now having said all that, I want to mention that I actually like a few of these entries.  If the judges had only picked 5 finalists they could have come up with a really strong line-up.  The decision to select 10 commercials might get the company some extra international press attention but I don’t think the free publicity is worth the damage that’s being done to the Crash the Super Bowl brand.

Hark! Let glory (and cash) be upon the winners of USA Today’s Holiday Lights Contest!

Merry Christmas Eve everybody! I’ve got some time to kill before I go over to my grandma’s house for pierogies and presents so I thought I’d do a quick post and share the results of Christmas-themed video contest.  But it turns out that most Christmas-themed video contests are kinda lame so I’m just going to post a video that features the winners of USA Today’s annual Holiday Lights Contest.  Contestants had to send in a photo of their Christmas Holiday lights and the house with the craziest display will get $5,000.  Here’s some info about the family that won:

Over the past 20 years, what began as a way for Buck Bottoms to make his children smile during the holidays has turned into a lifestyle for Hunter, 27, his wife, Emily, brother Jonathan, 25, and sister Ashley, 24. And Hunter Bottoms has in many ways taken over as the ringleader of the family’s holiday display.

He says each year they reunite to decorate their parents’ Midlothian, Va., home.

“We start putting the display together in September and try to have it up by Thanksgiving,” Bottoms says. “We have 178,000 lights so it’s a process and we have to manage things all year.”

The Bottoms house is located in a suburb of Richmond where holiday light tours are a staple of the season. For the past 10 years, the Bottoms home has been a part of the Richmond Tacky Lights tour with limos and buses of people showing up on the weekends.

Ok, it’s now officially pierogi time so I am outta here.  Have a great holiday everybody!