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The Crash the Super Bowl deadline is here. Time to tweet me your entries!


It’s 5:30PM (CST) on Sunday, November 24th.  For weeks and weeks I’ve been trying to come up with a funny (and cheap) idea for the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  About 5 minutes ago I finally had a flash of inspiration.  A funny, weird and affordable idea for a Doritos commercial just popped in to my head and it’s so simple and goofy it might actually have a shot at winning this contest.

Too bad the Crash the Super Bowl deadline is 6 1/2 hours away.  If I had just 3 extra days I could have shot my new, super hilarious idea.  Oh well….I guess maybe I can be the first person to submit an entry next year!

Based on the gigantic spike in traffic VCN has seen in the last few days it looks like a lot of you guys did manage to shoot and submit Doritos commercials this year.  If you did enter the CTSB contest, I want to see your work!  Every year I invite VCN fans to share their links in the comment section of my end-of-the-crash post.  I even offer to write mini-reviews of every ad that is posted.

But this year I’m going to do things a little differently.  If you’d like to get some extra views or votes, you’re welcome to post your link in the comment section below.  BUT…this year I’ll only be doing reviews on Twitter.  Last year I wrote reviews for more than 100 fan-made ads.  I crafted some pretty beefy reviews and it took up a crazy amount of time.  So the Twitter reviews will force me to keep my thoughts to 140 characters or less.  (though if I have something crucial to say I might cheat and reply twice.)  So if you’d like a review this year, here’s what you do:

  • Step 1:  If you don’t already, follow me on Twitter: 
  • Step 2:  Tweet me your link.  Your tweet has got to be public though.  I can’t do any reviews via DM.
  • Step 3:  Be patient!  It might take me a day or two to check out your video.
  • Step 4:  Don’t get pissed at me if I don’t like your video!  I only have 140 characters so I’m not going to sugarcoat my thoughts.  I’m not going to act like a jerk or anything but if your actors weren’t good or if your story made no sense or if your ad just isn’t good enough to air on TV, I’m going to say so.  Please don’t take my comments personally.  I’m just giving you my objective opinion.

Having said that, I hope I see a lot of awesome videos this year.  In a few weeks I will go though my tweets again and I’ll post my Top 5 favorite submitted Crash the Super Bowl ads.  So start sending those entries everybody!  Don’t forget to follow me before you tweet at me.  I promise I’ll follow you back-sies.   And like I said, if you want to post a link to your video in the comment section below, go for it.  If you do post your link here, I’ll reply with a link to my twitter review.  Oh wait….now that I think about it, I suppose not everyone in the world has a twitter account.  So you non-twitterers can just leave a comment and ask for a review on the blog.  Good luck everybody!


Did a poorly-designed Facebook app almost ruin this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest?

Facebook: Ruining every nice thing on the Internet since 2004

Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest might just be the biggest and most successful promotion in the history of advertising.  There have been seven different installments of The Crash and until now, each one has been bigger and better than the last.  But this year something strange happened; for the first time ever the Crash saw a drop in the number of ads that were submitted.   Doritos received about 2,800 entries last fall and although that’s an amazing figure, in 2011 the company received more than 6,000 entries.  The terms of the contest changed very little and there is still a million dollars at stake…so what could have caused a 50% drop in the number of videos that were submitted?  What the heck happened to this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest!?

Facebook.  Facebook is what happened.

The first six installments of The Crash were all hosted on the dedicated website, Crashthesuperbowl.com.  The site was brilliantly designed and it was the perfect home for the contest.  It was fun, user-friendly and it always worked just the way it was supposed to.  Crashthesuperbowl.com became an important part of the contest and I think it really helped generate a lot of excitement among the fans.  There was a huge and pretty active forum that filmmakers could use to ask questions so it felt very live and interactive. The site also had some nice privacy protections.  If you wanted to upload an entry or rate or comment on other people’s submissions you had to create a username and register an account.  Your profile and contact info were hidden from the public so no one knew who the heck ChipMonster23 or OrangeDustAddict were in he real world.  This did lead to a little trolling but a few rotten apples posting dumb comments on popular videos didn’t do much harm.

By far the the greatest feature of the old Crashthesuperbowl.com was the site’s video gallery.  IT WAS PHENOMENAL. When you went to the gallery you would see thumbnails for about 200 entries. If you scrolled left or right, more thumbnails would automatically load. So even if there were 6,000 submissions, you could scan through all of them by just pushing your cursor to the right. Here’s what the old gallery looked like:

RIP: Crashthesuperbowl.com

I think this video gallery was one of the biggest reasons the contest got so huge.  FritoLay made it incredibly easy for users to watch lots and lots of entries.  You could skim though the gallery and click on any random video that caught your eye.  So people who were thinking about entering the contest could sit down and check out the competition with ease.  And here’s the thing about the Crash the Super Bowl contest; maybe 90% of the entries are pretty terrible!  I know that might sound harsh but it’s true.  The vast majority of submissions are made by amateur filmmakers who don’t really understand how to craft a tight, funny, clever, 30 second commercial.  So if you were thinking of entering and if you watched a few dozen (or a few hundred) entries you would catch on to this fact pretty quickly.  And this would lead to a crucial realization:  I CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!  The video gallery made it look like any half-decent ad that didn’t have any glaring technical problems would be a serious contender. And that perception probably inspired thousands of filmmakers to go out and shoot their own submissions.

So Crashthesuperbowl.com was awesome.  But it did lack one key feature; it wasn’t very SOCIAL.  All of those ratings and comments and shares were TRAPPED inside the Crash the Super Bowl website.  So I’m guessing that some very clever person at FritoLay or Goodby, Silverstein & partners (that ad agency that helps run the Crash) realized that if the contest was moved to Facebook, literally MILLIONS of people would be exposed to activty related to the contest.

And that’s how everything got all f#&%ed up.  Last fall FritoLay decided that it was time to cash in on all those ratings and uploads and comments so they mothballed their amazing website and turned their entire multimillion dollar ad contest into a lousy facebook app.  Suddenly the contest went from being a fun, user-friendly experience to a big ass annoying, privacy killing social media monstrosity.  I want you to scroll up and look at that screen grab of the old CTSB video gallery.  Then scroll down and look at the new FACEBOOK video gallery:

The CTSB Facebook app

See that WATCH MORE ADS button?  I think that little button nearly ruined the 2013 Crash the Super Bowl contest.  On the old site you could skim through hundreds of ads in a matter of seconds.  But the new facebook app would only show you 12 ENTRIES AT A TIME.  If you wanted to see more thumbnails you had to click the button and wait a few seconds(!) for 12 more to load.  It was incredibly annoying.  Every year I try and watch as many Crash the Super Bowl entries as possible.  I used to go though the gallery and click on any ad that happened to catch my eye.  But not this year.  This year I tried to watch some entries but I quickly got frustrated and gave up.  And you know what?  Not being able to watch tons of other entries totally killed my enthusiasm for this contest.  I tried shooting a submission of my own but when I ran into a problem I just said “screw it” and gave up.  I just didn’t care this year and I know it’s because I wasn’t able to get psyched up and inspired by other people’s entries.

But the crappy video gallery wasn’t the app’s only problem.  The Crash the Super Bowl app was also a vicious privacy killer.  In fact, it might be the most invasive and dangerous contest app I’ve ever seen.  Contestants had to submit their entries under their real names and their names would automatically appear next to their videos.  Those names were clickable and they linked to the director’s facebook page.  So if you had a popular video, a million strangers could easily see anything you had ever publicly posted on facebook.  Oh and guess what, if you listed the names of your crew members their names would also appear next to your video and their names were clickable too.  Here, check out this shot of one the 5 finalist ads:


Every one of the names under the comment box is clickable.  Out of the 925,970 people that have watched this video, I wonder how many of them clicked on those links just for the hell of it.  I looked at one of the producer’s profiles and in 60 seconds I knew where she lives, what she looks like, where she works, where she went to school, who her boyfriend is, and how old she is.  It’s absurd that contestants and their crew members have to be exposed like this.  But the contestants aren’t the only one’s who need to worry.  You can also check out the facebook page of anyone who comments on any entry.  Most of the finalists and their crew probably realized that they should set their facebook pages to ultra-private mode but do all these people who have been leaving comments know that hundreds of thousands of strangers can see their personal info in just one click?

But wait, there’s more!  I haven’t even gotten to the WORST thing about this app; it is just a gigantic, spam-spewing monster!  Every single time a facebook user votes for an entry or leaves a comment, a message like this pops up in their friends’ news feeds:


I took this screenshot after I voted for a friend’s entry in the Nacho Average Awards phase of the contest. (If you’re not familiar with “The Nachos” they were kind of an honorable mention prize and the filmmakers that got the most vote won a year’s supply of Doritos.)  I voted for that entry every day and every freaking day my friends would have to see that alert.   The same thing happens when you vote for a finalist commercial.  I’ve been voting for the finalist “Goat 4 Sale” all month.  Here’s what would appear on my timeline every time I voted:


I’ve used a lot of contest apps before and normally I would just delete that piece of activity and the post would disappear.  But deleting that post doesn’t actually remove it from your news feed.  So for days I thought I was removing the post but my friends were still seeing it.  When I accepted the app it actually asked “Who can see posts this app makes on your facebook timeline?“  I thought I selected the “ONLY ME” option but when I checked later it was set to “FRIENDS.”  I don’t know if I just screwed up or if something was wrong with the app but I’ll tell you this, whenever I accept an app I ALWAYS set it to “ONLY ME.”  But really, isn’t it dumb that I even have to care about this kind of stuff?  Can’t I just cast a vote and be on my way?  Isn’t enough that I’m voluntarily watching a commercial?  Does FritoLay really need to commercialize my commercial-watching?

I know that PR teams and ad agencies are being told that they need to “make things more social” by big wigs who have no idea what that actually means.  But how does any of this junk actually help sell Doritos?  Does anyone at FritoLay really believe that my Uncle Tony is going to go out and buy a bag of Cool Ranch chips because he saw a brief mention of Doritos in his facebook news feed?  I mean seriously…..the Crash the Super Bowl ads that win this contest are going to be broadcast during the Super Bowl which means they’ll be seen by 100 million people.  Isn’t that enough exposure??  Does FritoLay really need to shove their content into the eyeballs of my 262 facebook friends?

That daily dose of spam was really annoying and if I wasn’t a giant video contest nerd I wouldn’t have wasted my time changing the app’s settings.  I just would have stopped voting after a day or two.  So I think the contest’s crappy facebook app hurt the number of entries that were received this year and it also probably reduced the number of votes that were cast.  I really hope that the Crash the Super Bowl contest comes back next year but I also hope that the folks at FritoLay realize that a bunch of meaningless “likes” and “shares” aren’t worth the damage they’re doing to their brand.  Moving The Crash the Facebook made the biggest user-generated ad contest in history feel small….and that’s a damn shame.

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 “” 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.


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

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

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

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

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.

Should Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos tacos be the star of the 2013 Crash the Super Bowl contest?

eat me.

Believe it or not, Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl contest is now almost six years old.  The first installment was launched way back in the fall of 2006 and since then Frito-Lay has run the commercial contest 5 times.  (Doritos skipped the commercial contest in 2008 and instead ran a version of the Crash for aspiring musicians)  The folks behind the CTSB contest are pretty secretive and filmmakers across the country are anxiously waiting to hear if the contest will be run again this fall.  Personally I think Frito-Lay would have to be nuts to kill off one of the most popular and successful promotions in the history of advertising.  Consumer-made Crash the Super Bowl commercials make the top three in the annual USA Today Super Bowl ad meter poll year after year after year.  Other companies pour millions of dollars and months of work into commercials that wind up getting panned the day after the big game.  But with the Crash the Super Bowl contest, Doritos has figured out a way to get some of the best, most original, most viral commercials possible without spending too much money.  In fact, the winning CTSB ads are usually so good that Frito-Lay is able to run them all year long.  So the company is basically able to get a year’s worth of commercials from just this one promotion.  And as a side benefit, the contest increases brand loyalty and enthusiasm among consumers and gets Doritos an unfathomable amount of free exposure and press.

But even though the CTSB contest is still pretty awesome, I do think it’s starting to get a little stale.  I’d be willing to bet a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos that most of the 2013 finalist ads will feature dogs, babies or jerks getting their comeuppance.  And I’m sure that at least 1 or 2 of the winning ads will created by that one well-funded team of filmmakers from LA that manages to win the contest every year. (Here’s the full story about that.)  The non-winning ads are even easier to predict; as they do every year, I’m sure fritolay will receive hundreds and thousands of videos that feature zombies, ninjas, mousetraps, Dorito footballs and guys in cheesy homemade chip costumes.

If the Crash the Super Bowl contest is going to remain relevant and exciting, I think it needs to be shaken up a bit.  And the best way to reinvent the contest would be to add a new “star” for 2013.  There are only so many low-budget chip commercials we “average joes” can produce on our own.  So Frito-lay, if you’re listening, why don’t you give your fans some uncharted territory to explore?  Why not make the next CTSB contest be about America’s new fastfood sweetheart, the Dortios Loco Taco!?

I’m not saying that the Crash should be totally Dorito-free this year.  In 2010, The Crash the Super Bowl contest actually featured two product categories.  Fans could shoot commercials for Doritos and/or Pepsi Max.  I was really psyched by the addition of a new product and I was disappointed that there weren’t two products featured again last year.  But a diet soda isn’t exactly a fun product so I wouldn’t want to see Pepsi Max be part of the Crash again. (Plus the Pepsi judges just didn’t get the contest and picked some terrible finalists.)  But you know what is fun?  A freaking taco bell taco with a shell made of Doritos!!  That is one of the most ridiculous food items ever conceived of by man.  I tried one for the first time just last week and that sucker was yummy as hell.  And people LOVE those things.  THEY LOVE  THEM.  Taco Bell sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos in just the first 10 weeks that they are available and Taco Bell saw a 6% spike in overall sales during the first quarter they were available.

In other words, they are a monster hit.  I think consumers would go crazy for the chance to make commercials for such a wacky, fun and beloved product.  I know I would absolutely enter the Doritos Locos category if I could.  And I would love to see what kind of crazy ads other fans would make for a non-chip product.

I know this idea might sound kind of infeasible since Doritos and Taco Bell are two different companies.  But you’d probably be surprised how closely related they are.  Doritos is owned by Frito-Lay.  Frito-lay is owned by Pepsico.  Pepsico used to own a company named YUM! Brands but they spun that company off so it could be its own entity.  And one of the companies that YUM owns is Taco Bell.  That’s why Taco Bell features Pepsi and Frito-lay products. So it wouldn’t be too difficult to get Taco Bell’s marketing team to work with Frito-Lay’s marketing team.  After all, they’ve been working together for the last year to promote Doritos Locos Tacos. I think that adding Taco Bell to the Crash the Superbowl contest is just a logical next step in this crazy snack food/fast food marriage.  In fact, I suspect that I’m not the first person to suggest that Dorios Locos Tacos would be a EPIC addition to the contest.  The Crash the Super Bowl contest and Doritos Locos tacos would go together like chocolate and peanut butter Taco Bell’s spicy ground beef and crunchy Doritos-flavored shells.  The combination just seems like a no brainier, doesn’t it?

Sling Baby “Wins” Facebook ad meter poll and a million bucks thanks to unsportsmanlike conduct

I call Shenanigans! Sling Baby's "head of social media" calls on fans to attack their competition.

On Tuesday night, filmmaker and three-time Crash the Super Bowl finalist Kevin T. Willson became the fourth person ever to win the million dollar ad meter bonus in Doritos’ annual commercial contest.  But unlike the other three times directors have won that honor, Willson’s victory isn’t anything worth celebrating.  In fact, the way he “won” his bonus money is so shameful I think his win might wind up being a black mark on the reputation of the entire field of “crowdsourced” advertising.

As I explained in my last post, this year USA Today ran TWO versions of their annual Super Bowl ad meter poll.  The traditional poll got its scores from viewers in private focus groups and the results were released on Sunday night.  This year, USA Today’s focus groups declared the Crash the Super Bowl entry “” to be the best commercial of the game.  (A great call, BTW)  As is tradition, Doritos will award a bonus of one million dollars to the creator of Man’s Best Friend for pulling off such an amazing feat.

But USA Today’s second ad meter poll was touted as a chance for “the public” to rank the commercials of Super Bowl 46.  The poll was run online and voting was open to anyone with a facebook page.  Voters were able to score a video on a scale of one to five stars.  Way back when the 2011/2012 installment of the CTSB contest was launched, Doritos said that they would be giving out bonus prizes to any CTSB ad that landed in the top three of either USA Today ad meter poll.  (one million dollars for first, $600K for second, $400K for third)  Voting in the online ad meter ended last night and when all was said and done, Kevin Willson’s Crash the Super Bowl ad, “Sling Baby,” managed to come out on top.

So this year, Fritolay gets to boast that Doritos commercials took the #1 spot in both of USA Today’s ad meter polls.  But the new facebook ad meter poll is set up and run in such a way that virtually guarantees that a Crash the Super Bowl ad will land “in the money.”  The other 55 ads in the poll have nothing to gain financially by doing well so only the Sling Baby team seriously FOUGHT for first place.  So I think fritolay knew a Doritos ad would probably win the facebook poll all along.  However, I don’t think they ever could have guessed that the final score would be so lopsided that the results would make the entire facebook ad meter look like an unfair, illegitimate joke.  Check this out; here’s a shot of the Facebook ad meter scores as they were just a few hours after the Super Bowl ended:

Online ad meter standings: Sunday Night

On Sunday night, the CTSB commercial that won the traditional ad meter was also winning the online poll.  Actually, the top 5 ads on this poll are just a jumbled version of the results of the traditional ad meter.  So before the Sling Baby crew started voting, the facebook poll was actually a pretty fair indicator of how “the public” felt about the ads that aired during the big game.  But here’s what the scores looked like by Monday afternoon.


Sing Baby had shot into first place but that was no surprise. However, the plummeting scores of the other videos in the top five were a little suspicious. As for the Kia commercial, it featured Motley Crue and it turns out the band kept and to vote for their ad. So that’s why that spot jumped into the Top 5. I guess the Sling Baby team didn’t appreciate that someone else was trying to win the ad meter poll. Here’s how the rankings looked at 1:15 on Tuesday afternoon:


The Kia ad had been slapped down hard. Just 20 minutes after I took that screen shot I checked the rankings again. The Kia ad’s score was down to 4.22 and it had fallen out of the top 5.  So the only commercial that seemed to actually be trying to beat Sling Baby was mysteriously crushed in the voting over night.

Here now are the final scores of USA Today’s Facebook Ad Meter Poll:


When voting started, Sling Baby was in a three way tie for first place with Man’s Best Friend and Bud Light’s Weego.  But after two days of voting, Sling Baby wound up absolutely slaughtering the competition.  Though I use the word “competition” lightly.  I did see a few casual requests for votes from some of the other competitors, but I think most companies realized that an online ad meter was sort of meaningless.  For the Sling Baby team, winning a 56-way contest that almost no one else was really trying to win should have been a piece of cake.  And Doritos even helped their cause.  After Man’s Best Friend won the big ad meter contest on sunday, Doritos started encouraging their fans to head to the online poll and vote for Kevin Willson’s Sling Baby.  I think it’s insanely, amazingly awesome that the folks at Fritolay want to give one of their CTSB winners a million dollars.  Sure, it’s good publicity for them but still, it was a really gracious move.  With Doritos’ support, Kevin Willson and his teammates could have scored a spot in the Top 3 without breaking a sweat.  But unfortunately, winning $600,000 or $400,000 fair and square apparently wasn’t good enough for these folks.  I kept track of the ad meter for the last three days and it seems that Sling Baby won because a small army of supporters sabotaged the scores of the other ads in the poll by maliciously rating them 1 star out of a possible 5.

If you look at Sling Baby’s official facebook page, you’ll only see a few subtle hints that the team wanted people to down-vote the other ads in the poll.  Here’s one example I saw:

Screenshot of the "Vote For Sling Baby" facebook page

Just for the record, Willson’s “User Generated ad” was created by a team of more than 40 pro and semi-pro filmmakers and cost almost $3,000 to produce. But anyway, as you can see, whoever was running that facebook page was really pushing the idea that their team had to beat Budweiser, M&Ms, Kia, etc.  And one fan even flat out said he was rating the other videos one-star.  And yet, no one spoke up and said “Hey man, we don’t want to win that way.  Please only give honest scores.

But that was how thing’s went down on Sling Baby’s official page.  Behind the scenes, the Sling Baby team felt free to get ruthless.  Based on what I have seen, it seems that some team members decided they could only win if they played dirty.  The creators of Sling Baby were incredibly organized and they even had someone managing their online campaigns.  That person’s name is Nate Daniels and the “About Us” section of Vote4SlingBaby.com lists him as being in charge of “Social Media.”  But apparently he also helped come up with the idea for the entry.  Daniels did an interview with something called the Lansing City Pulse in which he talked about his role on the team:

Daniels, who moved to Los Angeles, teamed up with the director of the ad, Kevin Wilson, to create the commercial. “I helped create the idea for ‘Sling Baby,’ and am in charge of the online campaign and the website,” Daniels said.

And here he is doing a TV interview with a Lansing, MI news station about Sling Baby’s quest to win the facebook ad meter.  So Daniels was a key member of the Sling Baby team.  He was literally the guy in charge of spreading the word about the ad and I assume that he was the head of the “online campaign” to get votes for the commercial.  At first Daniels simply asked people to vote for his team’s ad.  But as the Sling Baby slipped in the polls, he started to hint that people should give bad scores to the competition:


But soon enough, Daniels dropped the innuendo and just started instructing people to rate the competing ads “1 star.”  In an absolutely despicable move, he even told told people to give a bad score to the other Doritos commercial, Man’s Best Friend:


Daniels was by no means the only person using Facebook or Twitter to get Sling Baby fans to give bad scores to the other commercials in the ad meter. I found a bunch of other examples that I could post. But the people who made those requests weren’t in charge of Sling Baby’s social media campaigns so I’m not going to repost their comments.  I’m only sharing what Nate Daniels did because it was his job to promote Sling Baby online.

Now, if you’re thinking that perhaps this one team member went rogue and did all this without the OK of his teammates….well, take a look at this:


Jeff Edwards was the Executive Producer of Sling Baby.  Not only that, Edwards was Kevin Willson’s “plus one” for the trip to the Super Bowl.  So Edwards was practically a co-finalist.  He got a free trip to beautiful Indianapolis, he got to watch the Super Bowl from Fritolay’s private box and I’m going to guess that he stands to receive a huge slice of the million dollar ad meter prize.  So this guy should have known better than to publicly call on people to give bad scores to the Bud Light, Kia and Chrysler ads. As Captain Hook would say, that’s just bad form. Even Motley Crue didn’t tell people to down-vote the other videos and they are literally a motley crew!

Over the years I have been in a lot of video contests where votes determine the winners.  And I always make it a point to tell my family and friends NOT to down-vote the competition.  That just seems like a skeezy and unfair way to win a contest.  So it simply blows my mind that (as far as I saw) not one Sling Baby team member responded to Daniels or Edwards by saying, “Dude, chill out…we want to win fair and square.“  Though I didn’t see any evidence that Kevin Willson was asking people to sabotage the scores of the other videos in the contest, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that he didn’t know what his friends and teammates were up to.  And yet, it looks like he did nothing to stop these sad, unsportsmanlike tactics.

And that might be because he knew those tactics would work. Just look at how the scores for the other top videos tumbled during the voting.  Even Man’s Best Friend, the REAL best commercial of Super Bowl 46 went from first place to sixth place in just 48 hours.  That just shows you how effective “down-voting” can be.  Every high school graduate knows that you can get an A+ on every test but just one F per semester will wreck your final grade.  My point is that negative scores have a much bigger impact than positive scores do.  Let’s do some quick math:  Imagine a commercial on the ad meter had 10 votes of 4 stars each.  That would make their score 4.00.  If a person casts an 11th vote of 5 stars, the video’s score goes up to 4.09.  But if that person casts an 11th vote of 1 star, that video’s score plummets to 3.72.  Winning by down-voting the competition was probably easy but it was also certainly wrong.  But I guess the promise of a million god damn dollars can make people do some pretty crooked things.  To me it looks like some members of the Sling Baby team decided that it was their mission to make sure Willson’s commercial came in first by any means necessary.  And those folks straight up accomplished the hell out of that mission.

Right about now you might be wondering, “What’s the big deal?  So these guys did what it took to win a million bucks…what do you care?  It’s not your money.”  Well the reason this is a big deal because the Sling Baby crew completely violated the spirit of this competition.  I could win a hundred yard dash if my friends ran onto the track and tackled all the other runners, but that wouldn’t prove that I was the fastest guy in the race.  And I sure as hell wouldn’t be proud if someone gave me a gold medal for my phony baloney victory.  The point of the ad meter poll is to be ranked the best because your commercial IS the best….not because you got a whole bunch of people to give bad scores to the other ads.  Not only is that unsportsmanlike, I think it borders on fraud.  If the Sling Baby team launched a coordinated effort to get hundreds of people to LIE so that they could win this contest then they could be facing some serious legal repercussions.  And yes, when those voters gave bad scores to all the other videos in the contest they were LYING….they were not scoring the other commercials honestly.  I think this whole debacle could and should be investigated by the legal departments of Fritolay, USA Today, Kia, Budweiser, M&Ms, etc, etc, etc.  But at the very least, the down-voting could result in Sling Baby being completely disqualified from the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Here’s what the official rules of the contest say about unsportsmanlike conduct:

Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual deemed to be (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any Sponsor or Contest-related Web Site; (b) violating the Official Rules; (c) violating the Web Site terms of service, conditions of use and/or applicable general rules or guidelines; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. This Contest is offered only in the United States and is governed by the laws of the state of Texas. All claims relating in any manner to this Contest or to any Submission must be resolved in the federal or state courts located in Collin County, Texas.

Now that I think about it, if key members of the Sling Baby team were willing to resort to such unscrupulous measures to win the million dollar ad meter prize, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspect that maybe they did some unscrupulous things to get enough votes to ensure their ad would air during the Super Bowl.  Again, I think that’s something the big wigs at Fritolay can and should look into.

Finally, there is one more reason why all this matters:  Crowdsourcing, video contests and consumer generated ads already don’t get a lot of respect from the pros in the advertising world.  Every time a twenty dollar, homemade commercial like “Man’s Best Friend” beats Madison Avenue’s multi-million dollar commercials, the entire ad industry looks bad.  But Sling Baby’s “win” on the facebook ad meter gives the pros a reason to dismiss the accomplishments of crowdsourcers everywhere.  Sling Baby makes it look like we can only win when we’re playing with a stacked deck.  And even worse, the ridiculous results of the facebook ad meter make all of us look like greedy, vindictive cheaters.  Oh, but just for the record, down-voting the other ads technically wasn’t cheating since their were no rules and the ad meter wasn’t even an actual “contest.”  But if people were giving bad scores to the other commercials on the ad meter just to help Sling Baby win, that would be unethical.  And winning a million dollars unethically is nothing to be proud of.

Two final notes:  First, all the facebook screenshots that appear in this post come from public facebook pages that anyone can access. However, I didn’t think it would be necessary or appropriate to actually link to those pages. Second, the website AdBowl.com also ran an online poll where the public could rate the commercials of Super Bowl 46.  There were no prizes or bragging rights at stake in that poll so no one tried to sway the outcome of that contest.  According to people of the Internet, the two best commercials of the game were Volkswagen’s Dog Strikes Back and Doritos’ Man’s Best Friend.  As for Sling Baby, it came in 6th.

A quick recap of the best video contest entries of 2011

The phrase "Most Notable" wouldn't fit on the banner so I went with "Best"

Back in December I was planning on doing an article about the “Best Video Contest Entries of 2011.”  I did one in both 2010 and 2009 but I never got around to doing the 2011 list.  The thing is, 2011 wasn’t really a kick ass year for “consumer generated content.” There just weren’t many big stand outs.  So I figured that before we get any deeper into 2012 I’d just do a quick run down of the best video contest entries of the past year.  But here’s the thing; these entries aren’t really “the best.”  Anyone who has entered even a single video contest knows that the “best” entries don’t always win.  So let’s say that these are the most notable contest entries of 2011.  Basically this will be a list of the biggest winners of the past year.

In February, the Crash the Super Bowl finalist aired during the Super Bowl and scored the Million Dollar ad meter bonus.  But you know, I never really liked Pug Attack since it was just kind of a re-do of the CTSB winning ad, . One CTSB spot I did like though was the Pepsi Max commercial, .  That ad also aired during the game and won a $400,000 ad meter bonus.

The spring of 2011 was a very good time for a Lexington, KY man named Walt Arnett.  In March his “” won first place and $10,000 on Cash America’s Cash Rap video contest.  In May won him 1 of the 6 Mini Coopers that Dairy Queen gave away in their Mini Blizzard Treatment video contest.  And then just a week or so later won the $150,000 grand prize in Excedrin’s What’s Your Headache video contest.  Interesting note: All three of these contests used facebook votes to determine the winners.

During the summer, Gain detergent awarded a million dollars to in their Smell Like a Million Bucks video contest.  The winner of that contest was determined by a public vote so of course the winning entry wasn’t that great.

And….that’s it.  Those were all the big contests on 2011.  It used to be that there were several big video contests a year where the grand prize would be at least $25,000.  And as far as I can remember, there weren’t any “make our TV commercial” contests last year either.  I guess that sites like Poptent, Tongal and Mofilm have made those kind of big contests unnecessary. But a few contest entries did make it onto TV in 2011.  In November, Triaminc started airing a Poptent-made ad entitled 102.  And this cool Mofilm-made ad, “” actually aired during the MLB AllStar game.

Now that I mention it, Mofilm ran a ton of huge video contests in 2011.  Each contest was based around a different film festival or arts event and each competition had an over all winner.  You can see all of the top Mofilm winners of 2011 in this convenient youtube playlist: 

Finally, I think I’ll close out this list by naming VCN’s pick for The Best Video Contest Entry of 2011.  This was an easy call.  Top honors go to “Duct Tron” which won first place and $4,750 (?) in Tongal’s Stuck on Duct Tape competition.  Not only is it an amazing on a technical level, it actually has a hilarious surprise ending.  This ad wound up going viral and recived a crazy amount of love from the Internet.  Watch it and you will understand why.

If I missed any big 2011 contest entries leave a comment and let me know!

2012 Celebrity Crash the Super Bowl entries

Doritos: Larger Than Life

It’s been about a week now since the submission period for the 2012 Crash the Super Bowl contest closed and in total it looks like Doritos recived 4,829 entries.  That’s an all time record.  Sure, some of those submissions are duplicates but not many.  This year the Doritos team did a great job of keeping the repeat submissions out of the contest gallery.  In fact, I’d estimate that only 1% of this year’s ads are duplicates.   If we ignore the fact that a few of the entries are repeats, a little math tells us that your odds of making the Top Five are 1 in 965.  That makes this year’s Crash the Super Bowl the most difficult video contest to win, EVER.  So if you entered this year and if you have friends that are really psyched about your chances, you might want to mention the “1 in 965″ odds to them so they won’t be too crushed if you don’t make the finals.

As I explained in my previous post, this year I’m trying to watch (at least a few seconds of) every, single CTSB entry.  My goal is to compile a list of all the best submissions.  (If you made an awesome entry and want to be considered for the list, leave your link in a comment to my last post.)  While scrolling through the contest gallery, every once in a while I’ll come across a commercial that has a recognizable face or two in it.  Over the years, a few “celebrities” have appeared in Crash the Super Bowl entries but using known actors seems to be a big trend this year.

But personally, I think using celebrities in a CTSB entry is a really awful idea for everyone involved.  Before I get into “why” it’s a bad idea, take a minute and check out this Crash the SuperBowl entry featuring Jenny McCarthy.  I can’t embed CTSB videos so you’ll have to click on the image to view it on the contest site:

click to view.

That was seriously a pretty good entry.  The production values where top notch, the premise was funny, the women all looked very nice and it ended with a strong punchline.  I actually think it would be a major contender if it did NOT feature a celebrity.  As it is, there’s just something off-putting about this submission.  It causes the viewer to wonder, “Why the hell is Jenny McCarthy in a Crash the Super Bowl entry?”  And that question leads to more questions like “Is she broke?”  “Does she really need the $25,000 finalist prize that badly?  “Or does she just want the attention of being in a Super Bowl ad?”  But here’s the most relevant question; if Jenny McCarthy wants to do commercials, why doesn’t she just do some?  Is she un-castable or something these days? (NOTE: The answers to all these questions have been answered by one of the directors of this spot! Scroll down for the full story.)

So you see, if you’re a recognizable actor, doing a Crash the Super Bowl entry is is a huge gamble.  Like I said, there’s only a 1 in 965 chance of making the finals.  But there’s a 100% chance that people will wonder why the heck you would stoop to entering a video contest. Ok…maybe some celebrities enter the contest just for the fun of it.  But if a famous person wanted to make a goofy video for fun, they could just do a FunnyorDie sketch for free.  So most of them enter for the obvious reason; the prizes for winning are money and exposure.  But looking desperate for either of those things is not good for an actor’s image.

And I also think it’s a mistake for filmmakers to feature major or minor celebrities in their Doritos ads.  In a way, it goes against the entire point and premise of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Doritos runs The Crash every year because they want to find something they can’t get from Hollywood or from a big, Madison Avenue ad firm.  They want quirky, crazy, outside-of-the-box ideas.   In short, they want “User Generated Content.”

The description for Jenny McCarthy’s ad lists two directors.  I googled them and it turns out one of them is her ex-husband.  And he’s also an known actor.  He’s done a lot of TV directing too.  So this entry is the exact OPPOSITE of user-generated content.  Actually, it’s hollywood’s take on user-generated content.  And that is the thing that bothers me most about these “celebrity” entries.  They have an air of hubris to them.  It’s like an NBA player walking onto a basketball court in a big city, public park thinking he’s going to blow everyone’s minds just because he’s a pro.  But no one likes it when a pro chooses to compete against amateurs simply because they’ll be easier to beat. Before I make another weird analogy, check out this other CTSB entry that features boy-banders Lance Bass and AJ Mclean:

Again, click to view.

Now that ad wasn’t so great.  The only thing it has going for it is that it has two famous people in it.  But right now, the people that produced this ad are probably patting themselves on the back for being smart enough/rich enough/well connected enough to cast Lance Bass and AJ Mclean. They didn’t have to waste time writing a stronger script because two celebrities trump great writing any day…right?

Let’s be honest; the vast majority of Crash the Super Bowl entries are awful.  It’s very hard for an “average joe” to make a tight, professional looking 30 second commercial for no money.  And that’s why I think celebrities agree to be in CTSB ads.  Some friend or nephew or ex-husband finds the contest and thinks, “wow, these commercials all suck! If I spent a few grand and hired a real crew and got my pal, insert-celebrity’s name here to be in my video I would win easy!”  But these folks don’t “get” the contest.  Presumably they think that their celebrity entry will be much more desirable than the thousands of entries that just feature regular jerk-offs from Nowheresville, USA.  If Doritos has to choose between a commercial that features Jenny McCarthy and a commercial that features a bunch of nobodies, Doritos will obviously pick the Jenny McCarthy ad…right?

Wrong.  Because if Doritos wanted to air a commercial featuring Jenny McCarthy in a bikini, they would just hire Jenny McCarthy and stick he in a bikini.  They wouldn’t bother to run a 10 million dollar “consumer generated” commercial contest if they wanted a  typical, “hollywood” ad.  So I don’t think we’ll ever see a “celebrity” entry make the CTSB finals.  If we did, it would probably mark the end of the entire contest.  Because if Doritos tells us that to win, an entry should have a celebrity in it, why would us regular jerk-offs from Nowheresville even bother to compete?

The entries that have recognizable actors in them are pretty interesting though.  Some of them are pretty good and some of them are a little lame.  Some where clearly made by pros with deep pockets who were able to hire known actors, while other entries seem like maybe they were made by the celebrity’s nephew and the actor is appearing as a favor.  Here are the 2011 celebrity ads I’ve been able to find so far.  If you see any other ones, leave a link in the comments.

The Eric Roberts Show: Featuring Eric Roberts:

I always liked Eric Roberts. And he's actually pretty funny in this.

Tasty as Charged: Featuring Jerry Adler:

You might not recognize the name but this guy has been in a billion TV shows and movies

Eyes Teeth: Featuring Sam Lloyd:

It's Ted from Scrubs! And he's in a weirdly hilarious CTSB entry!

Party Time:  Featuring Blake Clark and Peter Dante:

Wait a second...both of these guys have been in a ton of Adam Sandler movies. I wonder who made this spot.

Despite my bitching, some of those were pretty good.  But nothing can top the epicness of this celebrity Pepsi Max entry from Last year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest:

Pretty damn crazy, right?  But that spot did not make the finals last year.  So If an entry that features a rampaging Ernest Borgnine couldn’t win this contest, I don’t think this year’s crop of celebrity entries stand much chance either.

11/29/2011 UPDATE: The mystery of the Jenny McCarthy ad has been solved! One of the directors actually found this article and he was good enough to explain how the ad came to be. Here’s his full comment:

Hey Beardy

Jenny McCarthy is doing this in the hopes to help http://www.generationrescue.org/. When we got the news from your site ( “The Lonely Island guys are kind of IN the Crash the Super Bowl contest. By that I mean that they will be competing for the 1st place spot on the ad meter and if they get it, they will win the million dollar bonus!” ) We thought we would give it a shot too. Fair is fair..

Thanks for checking out the spot!

John A.

p.s. your site rocks!

Well now, do I feel like an asshole or what??  Not only did Jenny McCarthy and her team shoot an entry as a way to raise money to combat autism, they found out about the details of the Doritos contest from this website!  Though to be fair, the lonely Island guys were hired by doritos to shoot a super bowl ad this year.  They’re not actually competing against the little guys for a slot in the finals.  Their commercial is guaranteed to air.  But still, it’s nice to hear that this was for a not for profit endeavor.  So, good for them!

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 “” 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 and sometimes the mousetraps are .  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 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.

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