There is no bigger game in the ad biz than the Super Bowl.
This is where the Mad Men face off not only through four quarters, but before the game, afterwards, and even the next morning as USA Today's Ad Meter reports which commercial was most popular.
What if you could have the #1 commercial without even breaking a sweat? What if someone else made it for you for free?
Doritos, a division of PepsiCo's Frito Lay, is back for the third year in a row asking for user-generated commercials, then asking consumers to vote on which one should air during the Super Bowl on February 1st.
Two thousand contestants entered the "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, with the five finalists listed here. My favorite is "Free Doritos", but I'm also liking the one about Doritos Beer. While ad gurus like our own Donny Deutsch says we should expect a lot of thoughtful, serious, back-to-basics-during-tough-times commercials this year, I'm glad to see Doritos is still going for laughs. Goodness knows we could use some.
So, in the funny business of Super Bowl ads, is this a cheap way for Doritos to get a commercial produced for the big game? The company says not necessarily. It still has to pay for the ad time, which is reportedly a breathtaking $3 million for 30 seconds. But the company would have to pay that regardless.
What about the cost savings of not paying an ad agency to make the ad?
In "Crash the Super Bowl," Doritos is only out the money to administer and promote the contest, plus each of the five finalists is receiving $25,000 and a trip to Tampa for the game.
Well, there is also a huge incentive for the ad to succeed. Doritos says if its ad wins the #1 spot on the USA Today Ad Meter, the winning creator will receive a $1 million bonus prize.
Add it all up, and a Doritos spokeswoman tells me, "There is no cost savings involved in this program." Really?
What are the chances Doritos will actually get the #1 spot and fork over the $1 million bonus prize? It's not out of the question. First of all, these "homemade" commercials are not done by complete amateurs. Doritos says, however, that all five teams "are still waiting for their big break." For example, the creators of "Free Doritos" are two brothers from Batesville, Indiana--Joe and Dave Herbert--who "called on family and friends to help create their entry and shot their spot at the local YMCA and obtained their now famous vending machine from Craig's List."
Doritos also gives Apple a shoutout by reporting that all five finalists edited their commercials on home laptops using Final Cut Pro.
Finally, Doritos has come very close to #1 before. Both of its previous top entries have ranked #4 on the USA Today list, "Live the Flavor" in 2007, and last year, my personal fave, The Mouse Trap.