Hey everyone. As a blogger I have been MIA. Yes, I realize I have neglected all of my seven loyal subscribers for the last several weeks. However I make no apologies. And most of you never missed me, so quit the whining.
As you know, my day job is producing commercials. Sometimes that job creeps into the night. Such has been the case over the last several weeks. I have spent 12-14 hour days, executing pre-production, shooting, and post-production for a spec. commercial submission to the Doritos Crash The Superbowl (CTSB) commercial contest. I invested three intense weeks of work and about $2,500.00 on the project. I know that some production company execs. are reading this with dropped jaw. To them, that’s penny change. They spend more than that, turning on the lights, walking past the secretary and brewing some coffee in the morning….but to me, $2,500.00 is a lot of money, and I spared no expense trying to get this year’s submission ‘right’.
I do not hide the fact that I am a huge fan of the Snack Strong Productions (SSP) marketing machine, (a marketing division of Frito Lay / Doritos). This years prize money and exposure opportunities to the freelance creative are unparalleled in the history of Consumer Generated Content Advertising. Why shouldn’t I be excited? No other brand has even come close to offering this much respect/access for independent creatives. Awarding all six ‘brand selected’ finalists $25,000.00 is the kind of respect the freelance community deserves and needs to survive. If this sort of payday becomes the norm, micro-budgeting freelancers can invest serious resources on production while keeping the lights on in the office (minus the secretary). Wether or not the advertising industry likes it, the future is the micro budget.
For Doritos it is a no brainer. In the two previous years SSP has run the contest, Doritos has occupied 30% of the real estate in the top five, USA Today winners circle. THREE OUT OF TEN of the top SuperBowl commercials in 2007 & 2009 were from a single brand – Doritos….
30%…..Let that sink in……………………………………………….
These are numbers usually reserved for the heaviest of hitters. Heavy hitters like Budweiser. Last year Doritos scored the #1 slot with the Herbert Brothers “Free Doritos” (click this link to watch their spot). This commercial was created by two self described “…regular Joes from Batesville Indiana…”. They also earned an extra cool $1,000,000.00 for nabbing the 1st place slot from Budweiser. That’s six zeros people. Budweiser had held the #1 spot for SuperBowl commercials for ten (10) straight years….and who unseats them…..not a competing ad agency from Madison Avenue….no…Budweiser was de-throned by two easy going corn-fed bo-hunks from Americas Heartland. I’ve met them, I’ve broken bread with them…they are real people and as talented as any creative team ever assembled in New York City, San Francisco, or Tokyo for that matter…Konichiwa Bud Light.
Less than two weeks after being booted off the #1 slot in the 2009 SuperBowl, Budwieser (Anheuser-Busch), decided to change the way it does business. They cancelled all retainer fees for its ad agencies. This is no small potatoes people. According to the St. Louis Business Journal: “Now it [Anheuser-Busch] will pay a set fee for specific projects, regardless of whether they take longer“. I smell the birth of another Snack Strong opportunity. Maybe they can call their new marketing arm….Drink Strong Productions….wait a minute, better re-think that one. Either way, I see a trend. This is all great news for the freelance video community, of which the Video Contest King is proudly a member.
Part II of todays Blog Post
My personal Doritos contest strategy:
Last year there were over 2,000 submissions to the CTSB contest. Those can seem like daunting odds to the freelance creative. Last year, Doritos passed on my submission. It stung. I was hurt. You see, I attack every single assignment with the same vengeance. I truly believe I will win every contest I enter. But I don’t always, and when I don’t it doesn’t feel very good. But I am a big boy (bigger than my wife would like -….I mean my weight). In the end I lick my wounds and face the music. Imperative to remember people: If the client doesn’t like your spot then you missed the assignment, or, you failed to nail it as well as some of your peers. Despite the rapid evolutionary morph of other elements of the advertising industry, some things remain constant. Like it or not, the brand is always right. Kinda sucks but it is one of the rules of the kingdom that even the VCK must abide by. One day I will change that (self-righteous snicker), but for now it is the law of the land.
This year I tried to do a more thorough job of research/homework. I tried to establish to a better degree what the brand prefers instead of force feeding them my will. By doing so, I hoped to exclude some of the competition. On the Doritos contest site, the directors tool box provides six bags (flavors) for the directors to use in their spots. They also are awarding six videos as finalists…..a coincidence?….maybe. Can I infer from this that Doritos would like to see some of their other brands get some ‘star’ time in the contest gallery?
I am sure that this is just the nerdy, conspiracy theorist editor inside me, but suspiciously the RED Nacho Cheese bag was posted last in that graphics section offering product shots. The first bag was the relatively new Spicy Sweet Chili product followed by the Collisions bag pic. In the middle were other lesser or more recognizable bags. Did, putting the two relatively new products first in the toolbox mean something or am I just a suspicious yoho? Could both be true? Or maybe I am just a yoho….hmmm, maybe… but I digress.
I mean, Doritos can’t exactly say something like: “Attention all video creators…in the past we have had ample submissions with our mainstay Nacho Cheese, and that is great, but frankly we do have other flavors, wink, wink“. I mean, if they did that, they would probably get zero spots with nacho cheese as the star and too many with the other brands. Bottom line for me was that I got the distinct impression that between: 1.) The increase to 6 finalists. 2.) The increase to 3 Superbowl broadcasts. 3.) The offerings in the Directors Toolbox…that Doritos would love it if they recieved highly qualified submissions in more than just the Nacho Cheese category.
In my spot a castaway and a shark collide over a floating survival kit/box. I am sure you already know what’s inside the box. Both the shark and the chubby castaway love the brand equally. You will have to click on the picture below to watch the video on my YouTube page and see who prevails in the COLLISION.
The VCK’s gamble:
VCK!!! Why are you giving up your trade secrets?????
Won’t this have the net effect of decreasing your chances of winning??????????????
Three reasons why the VCK is the VCK:
1. The VCK fears no one. The VCK accepts all comers and those with the will to challenge him. Look at the picture of me in the mouth of the shark!! Does that look like someone who balks????? I have stared fiberglass death in the face and laughed. I eat Doritos for breakfast……and lunch……………….and sometimes din…you get it.
2. Seriously folks. I said from the beginning: This blog is about providing the Freelancer with as much information as possible to help them succeed in the advertising jungle. Keeping this analysis to myself just wouldn’t jive with the spirit of the VCK blog. Besides, my presense on the net is not as pronounced as it one day will be. This blog is not as prodigious as say… Nalts Will Video For Food blog, so really, only a limited amount of minions are going to read it anyway. Those minions are YOU. All of you who are ahead of the curb under the protection and dominion of the VCK will benefit from his royal proclamations. All others, venture into the perilous, kill or be killed, laugh in the face of death world of freelance creation at their own risk (evil ogre laughter).
3. Doritos needs the best submissions they can get. The success of this contest has major ramifications to the changing industry as the months and years unfold. We need Doritos to get the best submissions they can get. What if Doritos get’s all three of their spots in the top 5 of the USA Today poll??? Do you realize what kind of opportunities will open up for us as a community? Doritos can’t come right out and say: “Come on people, we need a little diversification here…9 out of 10 of the submissions have been with the freaking red bag….HELLO, we do have other products”. If Doritos made this statement, they would be overwhelmed with all kinds of videos excepting the red bag. that won’t work either.
I may not be chosen as a finalist this time around. I may miss the mark again where Doritos is concerned, but if that happens, I can feel better about how I executed my plan. I approached this assignment more professionally and included many of the elements that we all will need to, as the industry changes and more of the advertising responsibility falls on the freelance community. No matter what the outcome, I can be proud of my work on this project, and the addition to my directors reel that this piece represents.
As a creative, if you are reading this and plan on entering this contest, here is some advice. Create/write what you think will be most effective. Don’t force it, but try think outside the bag…the red bag that is. No, I am not paid by Doritos or FritoLays. I simply recognize this contest as the strongest catalyst for change in the advertising industry, and we should all support it.
Good look serfs. The VCK will see you over at the contest site. Press the cool little Snack Strong pic below to go to the Doritos contest. Do it NOW!!!! And remember to CREATE STRONG.