I had really high hopes for this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest. FritoLay had made a lot of nice changes to the competition and for the first time ever, filmmakers from outside of the US were allowed to submit entries. I thought all that new talent would yield a fresh and fun slate of winners. But this afternoon Doritos unveiled a set of 24 Semi-Finalists and most of the ads they picked are pretty terrible. A lot of them lack punchlines or decent stories and many are just or . I can look past ads that are simply lame or unoriginal but some of the winners are downright, straight-up offensive. A few of them are so inappropriate that they could never in a million years air during the new, family-friendly Super Bowl. But what’s really shocking is just how misogynistic many of these ads are. As you watch these videos, keep in mind that views and votes had zero impact on which entries made the Top 24. A panel of judges from FrioLay and the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, picked all of these commercials by themselves. Let’s start with a semi-finalist from Israel that would never, ever get approved by American censors:
Ha Ha. That guy’s girlfriend is a slut! His best friend is also a bastard but the best friend gets forgiven because hey, (imaginary) boys will be boys. I wonder if that guy is going forgive his girlfriend too? Eh…doesn’t matter. That girl was nothing but a prop for the men to fight over. She hold less value than a $2.50 bag of chips.
But the sexist subtext isn’t even the worst thing about this video. The whole point of the Crash the Super Bowl contest is to find commercials that could air during the SUPER BOWL. There’s absolutely zero chance that CBS would ever broadcast a commercial that included the word “bastard,” a post-make-out zipper sound effect or a totally unnecessary up-skirt panty shot of a floating girl. FritoLay received more than 4,000 Crash the Super Bowl entries this year. Couldn’t they find 24 ads that could make it past the censors?
Now if you thought that was too hot for TV, check out this semi-finalist from Australia:
Personally I like this one. It’s freaky but it’s freaky in a good way. It looked professional, it was clever, it was unique and it had a big, insane punchline. This video is so crazy that it actually went viral BEFORE it even made the top 24. A few days ago it got posted on a ton of popular sites and now it has more than a million views.
But let’s be serious here. That commercial was about a glory hole for fingers! Can you imagine what would happen if millions of Americans saw that during the Super Bowl? If Janet Jackson’s nipple could cause people to freak out, a fat dude sucking a phallic finger through a hole in the wall might break the 7th seal and usher in the beginning of the end times.
But like I said, at least that one is funny. This Canadian semi-finalist features a punchline that only a serial killer could love:
I’m not going to mince words. That’s some fucked up shit right there. I like dark humor and if this idea had been executed a little differently it could have been a great submission. It’s an extremely well made video and the editing is perfect. But there are a few little elements that just make my skin crawl. The actress was amazing and her eyes were filled with so much love and sweetness. And then he main character murders her. But here’s the worst thing about this entry; why is the dead mermaid so sexy!? Was the under-boob and cheesecake pose really necessary?? I know that she’s a mermaid and not a human and I know it’s just a wacky commercial but for christssakes….a guy killed a beautiful woman and hung her half naked body on the wall. She is literally his “trophy.” This one will never air on TV but if it did, I think women across the country would (rightfully) raise hell over that “joke.”
Here’s another semi-finalist that’s weirdly misogynistic. This one’s also from Canada:
I guess that did kind of feel like a Super Bowl commercial….from 1985. I enjoy seeing sexy ladies in super tiny bikinis as much as the next guy but sexist commercials like this one have been out of style for at least 20 years. Like I keep saying, I know these are just goofy contest entries but it’s just not cool to show a man pushing over a scantily clad woman so he can steal her Doritos. Violence against women, even cartoony violence, doesn’t belong in a chip commercial. Yes the Kate Upton look-a-like gets her revenge in the end but that doesn’t make this concept ok. It’s not funny, it’s not original and it’s not appropriate.
I don’t know if Doritos had a few, undercover women-haters on their judging panel this year or what but here’s another semi-finalist that’s based on the idea that men love Doritos more than pretty ladies. This entry comes from Hong Kong.
That video might seem harmless but go back and watch the beginning again. WHAT THE HELL WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO THAT POOR GIRL!? She was on the ground screaming in a dark ally while three giant thugs were surrounding her. She looked terrified. Either those guys were going to steal her bag of Doritos or they were about to freaking gang-rape that girl. Look at their eyes. They didn’t look like they were after her chips.
Believe it or not, I’ve got one more semi-finalist that portrays women as worthless and disposable. But this one’s a two-fer because it also manages to mock an entire religion:
I hate to use the same joke twice in one article but seriously, this feels like a Super Bowl commercial from 1985. The “hot girl” character looked like she was supposed to be a prostitute. Who goes to the mall wearing a tiny, skin tight, hot pink dress, 6 inch heels and a ton of make up? And it always kind of bugs me when writers make jokes about the Amish. Whenever a filmmaker needs a character that doesn’t understand something that’s common in the modern world, you can just make that character Amish! It’s just lazy writing. But this particular ad takes things a step further. These Amish aren’t just clueless rubes. The dad is a dirty old man who lusts after a hot young woman that’s wearing an incomprehensibly sexy dress. That just feels wrong, doesn’t it? Do you think the judges at FritoLay would have picked this ad if it featured a strict Muslim family that had never been to a mall before? Why are the Amish the only religious group that it’s ok to make fun of? (Is it because everyone knows they’ll never see the jokes on TV or online??)
Or consider this; would the judges have picked this ad if the gender roles were reversed? What if a hunky dude got off the elevator and “Ma” pushed Pa in there?
I know that it probably seems like I’m over-analyzing these ads but keep this in mind; 2 of these 24 semi-finalists are going to air during the Super Bowl in February and they’ll be seen by 110 million Americans. So the messages and subtext of these commercials are important. Most of the advertising world got the message a long time ago that goofy sexism is still sexism and that it’s not ok. I can’t really blame the “average joes” who made these ads but I can blame FritoLay for picking some of these commercials. The Crash the Super Bowl contest is being run by some of the smartest and most successful marketing gurus in the world. They should have known that dead mermaid tits don’t belong on TV.
Wasn’t there something about “no blows to the head” in the rules as well? Sure makes the Hong Kong one look like an appeal to the new international competition (to justify all the free international advertising they’re getting).
Aside from all the misogyny, using women in advertising in this way is just so BORING. There’s nothing fresh about choosing Doritos over the hot girl, it’s so Advertising 101. I’m kind of surprised that there aren’t more cute animal ads that made the cut – those always seem to do well.
I liked the ostrich one a lot. Best use of a unique animal in these years competition, but yeah, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the crop.
It’s official. I fucking love you Dan L.! Thank you so much for noticing this disturbing new trend and writing an amazing article about it. I wrote one too, but because I’m a woman my words would never have the impact you’ve had here. These things don’t get taken seriously until men point them out and take a stand. THANK YOU!
Wow well thanks Lis. Obviously great minds think a like!
For those who haven’t seen it, Lis did a very nice job reviewing all 24 finalists here:
I totally agree with your opinions. I’d love to hear your feedback on my submission. Thanks!
Thanks for the writeup on this. Pretty disappointed in the quality and content of this year’s semifinalists. I feel like the judging criteria centered around getting as many contestants from as many different countries as possible.
Dan, what is your prediction for the Top 5 spots?
Doritos completely drop the ball this year, perhaps this is the last year. i know its definitely mine. i felt i finally nailed it personally and they pull this mess. check out my entries.