Snack Strong Productions trailblazes / My personal Doritos contest strategy.

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.

After several days of mulling it over (and several hours of internet research), I determined that Doritos was spending a good amount of resources to get the word out about their new “Collisions” flavors . It also seems that no matter what Supermarket I visited here in southern California, that a disproportionately high amount of shelf space is dedicated to the ‘Collisions’ flavors. I had made my decision. I re-wrote my script to make the ‘Collisions’ flavors the focus of my story line.

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.

Doritos Blog pic


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.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

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.

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19 responses to “Snack Strong Productions trailblazes / My personal Doritos contest strategy.

  1. Good article. Do you keep track of the hours you spend on each contest? If so, how many hours/days do you think you spent on the Doritos ad.

    • Hey Giordany,
      I don’t have an accurate accounting of hours for past jobs. That is probably a good idea to start. It could help justify future quotes for jobs of similar difficulty.
      I will bet I spent about 180 hours over three weeks, all told. lf I am chosen as a finalist it will only get worse. If the Herbert Brothers happen to visit the blog you might want to ask them just how much time they put into the voting campaign last year. I will bet it was more than 180 hours between the two of them.
      Thanks for the question Giordany.
      The VCK.

  2. Very nice article! very generous with your game plan as well. Who picks the top 6? Is it snack strong productions? Or Doritos? Do you think snack strong will pick like 15 or 20, and let Doritos pick out the 6?

    • Hey David,
      Wether it be Doritos or Snack Strong running the show….doesn’t really matter. Both working for the same goal. If they do what other major brands do, they probably don’t even trust their own opinion. They will pick maybe 25-30 spots, and then put them in front of a panel of viewers that represent the target demographic. The top 6 rated become the finalists.
      In effect they are doing their own little USA Today poll. This of course is just my professional conjecture (wink, wink).

      The VCK

  3. I notice that this years entry features you and only you once again. Is this a creative choice on your part? Even if you had a big budget, would it still feature 1 actor? Or is it a logistics thing? I know its very hard for me to coordinate more than 3 actors to all show up to the same spot, at the same time.
    Keeping in mind Jared, I really do like your body of work. Your doing a good job of establishing your look, and creating a “Cicon” feeling ad.
    Also, who is your DP?

    • Hey David,
      I am a member of the Screen Actors Guild. I have a lot of experience in front of the camera. I really have a deep love for acting. In fact, three years ago when I started filming, it was to get some ‘demo’ for my acting portfolio. As I started to win contests and turned demo into reel (national television boradcasts), I also discovered a love of directing, writing and editing.

      Yes, acting in my own spots has been pointed out as a potential limitation in my appeal to the advertising industry. Most production companies/Ad agencies want to see a reel that shows you have worked in multiple scenarios with multiple different actors (age ranges – sexes). And I have produced spots with actors in addition to myself or without myself featured in the starring role. Here are a few examples. But yes, most of the time you will see ‘Jared’ in the story. I suspect that as the industry changes and brands increasingly embrace the ‘project by project’/micro budget concept, my style of producing may find an increasing appeal to the brands.

      As the years go by, I do envision myself relegated to more of a directing/writing role. It is very, very difficult to act, and direct a successful project. Ask anyone who has done it. In the meantime however, I will use all tools available to me in executing my content, and because I know I can always count on myself to show up and nail the performance……I very often will cast myself.

      After all, any industry director finding himself in the fortunate position of casting the VCK as talent would instantly recognize it for the windfall it is, regardless of the GLCWB envy prevalent in some marketing circles.

      GLCWB = Good Looking Chubby White Boy.

      The VCK

  4. I like how you’re thinking about the future of the video contest world in general. It’s a uncommon and selfless perspective.
    Do you have the official Doritos URL for your commercial? If so I’ll be happy to spread it. Great commercial, good luck!

    • Hey Byron,
      How is your move coming? You all settled in yet? Hope it went well and I am glad I don’t live close enough to help unload {;-().

      RE:Dortios
      Surprisingly, the site has no way to assign a URL to each video. Currently I am still on page one of the gallery but this will change as the submissions increase. My video thumbnail is of a silhouetted shark fin if you want to check it out.

      I think the reason there is no way to send a link out to friends and family is, at this juncture the only thing that matters to Doritos is which 6 videos they choose as finalists. Later when the finalists go to an internet vote, and if I am fortunate enough to still be standing, then yes there will be a relative link, and I will ask for yours and others help like any serving narcissist on the campaign trail would do.

      Trust me when I say, the VCK knows narcissism!

      the VCK!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jared,

    Hi there, I run a new website called The Video Contest News (videocontestnews.com) and I’ve been a fan of your work for quite a while. I’ve been blogging a lot about the Doritos competition and just today I posted your entry and said it was easily the best of the bunch so far.

    If you ever have any video contest news you want to share, please let us know and keep up the good work!

  6. Hey Beardy,
    Thanks for hanging out at the kingdom. I just got back from reading your post at Video Contest News. Nice stuff. And thanks for the kind words about my submission. You better believe you are right about the competition getting bigger/better before this is all over. And yes, a thousand or so submissions will be airlifted and then ceremoniously dropped on the
    CTSB III crew in the last week alone. It will probably be 2 weeks post-sub-deadline before we even get to see them all.
    My guess is there will be 50 or so submissions that will be as good as or better than mine. I am just hoping that only about 5 of them are ‘Collisions’ centric. If that is the case and if I am right about Doritos wanting to advertise that brand flavor, than I might have a shot.

    Are you going to be submitting to the contest? If so, refer me to it, and I will will visit it on the contest page and leave a comment. Good luck if you are my friend. Talk to you soon.

    The VCK

  7. Pingback: Crash the Superbowl: 24 days to go | Video Contest News

  8. Hey Jared! Thank you for taking the time to make this BLOG possible. There is some very good content here to ponder. I have a real sense of urgency fueling me right now but there is still much need to brainstorm. The difficult part is what can I do with the time at hand and resources that don’t take too much time to assemble. The concept I shared with you is still in the early stages of being scripted… Wish me luck or better yet say a prayer. 🙂

  9. Great job Jared! Good call on the “Collisions”. It also seems that spots that have been placed in the past have some sort of physicality/brute force/attack involved.

    Have they update the stock music in the past few years???I once submitted a video to a Dibs contest. I wrote my OWN music for it and they couldn’t accept it.

    I’m shooting the rest of mine this weekend. Can’t wait to put it out.

  10. Hey Keith,
    When the contest started there was only one Classical music piece in the directors tool box. I thought that this might be ‘saying something’ to the contestants. Yet, after many a producer complaint, Doritos relented and added all of the classical beds from last year to this year’s Directors tool box. I mean, after all when you pay for a licensing agreement it is usually in perpetuity, so it probably didn’t cost them anything to do it.

    Let’s think about this though….if Doritos wanted ‘Classical Music’ as a music bed, would they not have started the contest with an ample amount of it in the toolbox. All the more reason I am glad I chose a rock and roll music bed for my first sub. Maybe just crazy old VCK jumping to conclusions….or maybe not
    VCK

  11. Jared, I just came across your blog. You’ve raised entering this competition to an art form! I laughed out loud at your rock climbing submission. The visual of him eating as many as he could before landing was very unexpected and funny.

    Good luck with your submission(s) this year. $2500 is a lot to spend in this economy.

    As the creator of a website (specbank.com) that serves up agency scripts for aspiring commercial directors to shoot and build their reels, I’m curious to know if your specs have gotten you work.

    Also, we’ve been collecting Doritos scripts for our directors to shoot. Some fun stuff! I look forward to seeing what comes out of this year’s crop.

    Good luck to you.

    Dan

    • Hey Dan,
      Thanks for the compliments on the Chubby Rock climber spot. I had a lot of fun making it. We shot on location in Joshua Tree Nat’l Monument here in So. Cal. Excellent place to shoot. Feels like the old west.

      Yes I have gotten some work from brands who have seen the my spec. work, but not from the brands which the spots were created for.

      Could be, because I have never actively pitched them, since they were all the results of contests. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t know where to start thereto. Maybe you could rep me to the industry, and make a few bucks for both of us in the process. Let me qualify the prior by saying that I have won contests with many of the spots and have scored national commercials as a result. Accordingly, not all of them are for sale (since they have already been purchased), but I have a boat load of them I would love to get pitched/sold.

      http://www.AdHack.com has a novel idea I recently became part of but will be honest in reporting I have yet to score any type of work through them.

      RE: Speckbank.com
      I am interested to know just how your company works Dan. BTW, I loved the Yankees series (Cop, Yankees suck).

      I don’t know if a marriage between us could work since I am very territorial when it comes to my content, and I regularly develop ideas that I simply don’t have enough hours in a day to produce. Still, I am curious to know the origins of your business and just how far you plan on developing it depending on the talent available to you.

      I’d like to get your thoughts on Tongal.com. I am hesitant to become involved with them since most of the elements of my productions are internally generated.

      Good talking to you man. I am going to go back over and check out your site again.

      And if you are a freelance creative reading this comment thread between Dan and myself, you should check out his site http://www.specbank.com. It represents one more opportunity for creatives to better themselves, by sharping/honing their skills in this ever changing advertising landscape.

      Talk to you soon Dan.

      The VCK

  12. Hey Video King!

    Thanks for your thoughts. Tongal looks pretty cool, though I’d have to watch their “About Us” video a few more times to really grasp it.

    The idea for Spec Bank came to me after providing scripts for Group 101 Spots, a directors collaborative which in the last round cost members $3500 to join. It occurred to me that a lot of aspiring commercial directors may just need commercial scripts to shoot to build their reels. So I created the site and solicited contributions from creatives. And it’s a lot cheaper to join than $3500! (Currently $6 a month.)

    You’re right that it may not be for someone like you who prefers to create his own concepts. A lot of directors would rather shoot someone else’s ideas.

    Good luck with the “Crash the Superbowl” competition!

    Dan
    The Spec Bank

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