Doritos. Why even the losers are winners.

The deadline for submitting to Doritos ‘Crash The Superbowl’ (CTSB) commercial contest expired tonight at midnight Texas Time. In the coming weeks we will find out which six deserving creatives scored a healthy 25K each. In February just a few short months from now, we will also see three of those six finalists broadcast their creative content worldwide, and hopefully shake up some old school ad agencies in the process through the USAToday ad meter rankings. And for those of us who missed the mark and failed to make the finals, take heart, we have still won. That’s right, we have also scored a real victory…. I am not playing semantics here either.

We have won because Doritos will surpass the video submission tallies of past years, and we were part of that history. We have won because yet again, Doritos is executing an example for all of the worlds brands to watch and learn from, and we have won, because freelance creatives will again make front page news throughout the advertising world for their contribution during the SuperBowl game. I have said it before and I will say it again. There is no greater opportunity or ambassador Β for the freelance video producer than Doritos Crash The Superbowl commercial contest. Someday there may come even greater opportunities, but for now and for the last three years, Doritos reigns. Snack Strong Productions should be on everyones christmas shopping list.

Don’t think for a minute that only little mom and pop operations submit to these contests…not by a long-shot. There are established talent, from pop bands (Honor Society), to well known character actors (Edie McClurg and others) and legit agencies and production companies, who are abandoning tradition and testing the waters of this new freelance market. It’s pretty much like an open call audition. The Ivory Towers of Madison Avenue consider these agencies and prod. comps. rogue entities. The VCK considers them forward thinking. Maybe they justify entering these contest as just a different kind of spec. opportunity. Their reasoning matters little to me because the net effect is brands having increased variety and quality of spec. content to choose from as they open the doors to the freelance community. Through contests like CTSB, brands will increase their interest in this growing arm of the advertising world and will eventually motivate them to participate. In the end there will be more and more opportunities for freelancers of all sizes and sophistication.

Click on this pic and watch this video. The video is titled ‘Doritos Please’.

Senor Queso
This is a highly polished, professionally produced commercial that is as large budget looking as any that play nationally during prime time television on any given day of the advertising week. Mike Goubeaux (the director) should be proud of what he has accomplished here (so too should the compositing editor). Mike was also the director behind last years ‘Too Delicious‘ which was one of the CTSB five finalists. It netted him (Dandy Dwarves Production company) $25,000.00. Not exactly a money maker considering the resources spent on production. Yes, the production might have been accomplished with major contributions (favors) of time and resources but in the long run those are still bills that have to be reckoned with. Last year, Mike G. and Dandy Dwarves were going for the brass ring and missed. A fellow finalist duo, (The Herbert Brothers) prevailed and scored a cool million dollars. So Dandy Dwarves and Mike went back to the drawing board on a mission. A mission to make it pay off this time. This submission (Senor Queso) is worthy of praise and appears to have been an even greater investment of assets than last year’s project. Though it packs a powerful aesthetic entertainment punch, I am not sure it is strong as their submission from last year. It clearly has no single great laugh (like the Doogie Howser type going ‘POOF’ during the business meeting – watch ‘Too Delicious), and the product is clearly in a co-starring role with the lead actor. This is not always appreciated by the brand. Still it is an amazing piece of writing, directing, acting, and editing. What it lacks in laughs it does a good job of compensating for in production values and action.

Now it may or may not be Mike G. and Dandy D. who net the million for best SuperBowl spot, but considering there will still be a whole bunch of stale ‘business as usual’ spots from the old school ad industry, it is clear there is an opportunity here for them and other talented creatives to get their day in the sun and a massive payday to boot. All courtesy of Snack Strong Productions….we thank you again.

The bigger picture:

The Brands admiring this CTSB program look at this spec. commercial, the huge production values therein, and the price-tag (free) and they start to salivate. I will make a prediction that by this time next year, the spec. opportunities for freelance creatives in the guise of ‘contests‘ will double what it is today.

The cool thing is, we don’t need to have the budgets (or talent) of a Mike Gaoubeaux. As more and more brands of all sizes test the freelance market, there will be more than enough work to go around for all types of creatives. I predict there to be an influx of companies, specifically in the small business owner demographic, who never before thought they could afford something of decent quality who will now be open to running a ‘contest’. These brands may not have a television advertising budget, but would love something for a website. There are countless millions of small to medium business websites who still do not have an inviting video on their main page. That’s exciting.

Bottom line:

For those of us who are not fortunate enough to be finalists in this year’s CTSB contest, the future is looking brighter than ever. When the economy finally does an about face and venture capital starts to move a little freer, you better be ready with your script templates and your business cards, because there will be a whole new wave of opportunities that heretofore never existed. There will be a lot of videos to produce in all creative skill levels (not just the Mike G.’s of the industry) and you better be ready to produce them or someone else will.

Life is good. You can say the VCK told you so.


85 responses to “Doritos. Why even the losers are winners.

  1. If I had a wish though on the “kids these days” spot, and thanks for the reminder on the name, would be to have the bag be the proper orientation. They gave the viewer too little credit. Everyone would have been able to read it backwards plus you see the old guy eating them and holding the bag, plus the logo super. But that’s nitpicking. Very nice spot.

    • Yeah, I am sure it was something they probably debated amongst themselves internally. I met these guys and they don’t make decisions quickly without thinking it through. Like you said it is not a ‘major’ sticking point.

  2. Hey Jared,

    Since you have done this before when do the 6 finalists really find out? Not on the 4th of January I would imagine and I wonder if they are allowed to tell us.

  3. There’s a nice benefit to submitting at the last minute. Your video will get way more eyeballs than the ones buried down the bottom of the never ending spinning stack of tv’s. It’s like being featured on the front page of YouTube!

    • Yeah I think that Snack Strong could minimize some of the las minute crush by rotating the videos. Keep their numerical idea for location purposes but, mix them up in the gallery. People could still find them by most viewed,director,title. But I am sure the high view number phenomena from being last is not lost on some director/creatives.

      For me it is a moot point since Doritos picks the top five. Still there’s no such thing as bad press (or social networking exposure) even if a vid isn’t picked as a finalist, it can get valuable exposure.

  4. Timing is everything. Glad you guys are talking about my spot. It’s interesting. We actually were asked to remove it. Understand why.


    • Hey garyvader,
      Thanks for coming by. You should be proud of your work on “RCD”. I think you should look at the request to revmove the Herbert Bros. spot as a huge plus. It could very well mean they are looking at your spot as potential finalist status. There are numerous spots in the gallery that clearly break the rules that are not being asked to re-edit…..for obvious reasons…..they have no chance.
      Good luck again and good work.
      The VCK

  5. I am referring to the footage on the tv. We were asked to take it out.

  6. Hello all,

    A group of friends and I did the “School Project” submission that Danny mentions above:

    Thanks for the nice comments Danny, I actually owe you a response on the Crash site that you asked, been bogged down trying to watch all the submissions. I was caught up until the final deluge to get to almost 4,000 so I have a long ways to go to see them all.

    Production quality is going way up as I see some of the new ones quite a few still lack the punchline or good comedy that Danny mentions, there’s a lot of kicks between the legs, punches in the head and guys gorging themselves with Doritos on a couch.

    My dreams of making the top 6 slowly fade as I buzz through the 4,000 but my fingers are crossed! Any comments on ours would be greatly appreciated, always trying to improve!

    • Marty– Who knows what the top 6 will be, I’ve gotten through maybe 500. But trying to get through them all. I will tell you this, I bet yours is better than at least 3500 of them. I like it. Something to be proud of.


  7. Thanks for posting this on the CTSB site, this is a great place to find some of the better ones. I agree with you on the class project, that one is good, I also liked the acting class one where the guy breaks his leg acting like a dorito, that one was good but I can’t remember the number.

    Personally, my favorite is #2265, if you haven’t already seen it, check it out, it is pretty hilarious, and I the janitor on there is in a ton of other commercials. don’t know if that is a good thing or not.

    Is there a list anywhere of like 20-40 that are good? It is very frustrating going through them all with that music….ahhh I want to gouge my own eyes out listening to that over and over.

    • Hey FilmFold,
      Good to have you here on the blog. I am toying with creating a top 20 list. I personally have only gone through about 2,000 vids. Many of them are near duplicates with minor tweaks. After I go through all of them I might just post a list. Though as a contestant myself I might just be biased as to the type of content I prefer. I’ll consider it.

      BTW: Like your blog ‘FILMFOLD‘ and the information relating to the ‘Film Business’.

      Hope you become a regular here at the VCK.

  8. Cool, here is a small list that I started to make, would be interested to see if you have any of the same….


    Don’t know if any are winners, but they are good in my opinion

    • Hey Filmfold,
      I have been so blogged down with the ‘VCK’s Best Of’ post that I am only just now getting back here. I know I have given reviews for all of these videos at one point or another. Thanks for bringing them to my attention and if you have patience and care to look for the #’s, I know you will find the relative review within the comments section.
      The VCK

  9. Heya guys! Great blog!

    If you get a chance, please check out our submission “Doritos Are For Eating” and let me know what you think:

    Ours is (seemingly) one of the few animated commercials in the contest, and I think the only one I’ve seen so far that’s hand-drawn Flash animation (as opposed to CG model animation). In general, do you think that helps or hurts us? I don’t remember any animated ads being finalists in the past.

    Being sort of a retro throwback cartoon ad with a very slight modern twist, maybe the judges will look kindly on our simple ways in this time of crisis? :>

  10. Wow FilmFold, 4075 was produced by a local company including a friend of mine. He’s the guy who gets fried by the electric fence. That was done by a company that usually does high-end stuff in 35mm like spots for the state lottery. As for your list, some of them are pretty good. I’m not crazy about 2133 though. My old boss used to work for Leo Burnett and he taught us that a spot should never have any negative connotations. It would hit too close to home for many unhappy couples.

  11. Hi Jared. We thought you may want to know about our video. It is called “Bear Necessities” and is #4357. We got it in on Monday (the deadline) and it finally went up in the gallery on Friday. I (Adam) am a graduate of Second City L.A. and a comedian/writer and my filmmaking partner Dave is an editor and aspiring writer/director. We think it came out very well.

    • Hey Adam and Dave,
      Good to have you here on the blog. Let me take a crack at your spot.
      PRO: I don’t think anyone can argue that you have a grasp of all of the essentials. Casting (acting), lighting, writing, lighting, photography direction, direction. It is all good. You kept the production values up to a national level which is mandatory in this competition.
      CON: The story lacks that one or two grab your stomach comedy moments. There is humor throughout yes. I was smiling rather wide at times, but never emitted a sound, and this is one of the measuring sticks Doritos will use.
      It isn’t even actually Doritos themselves that will choose. They don’t even trust their own judgement. When they narrow down their own ‘best of’, they put the spots in front of test market panels. They will play the previous years top 10 against the new ‘best of’, and I believe they have similar dials in their hands to what the USA Today test group has. They have this down to a science.

      I just don’t see the dials going to 10 at any point during your spot.

      So the bottom line for me is this. You guys take all of your obvious skills and apply them to a stronger script, and next time I see you producing a winner.

      Good work.
      The VCK

  12. are you sure “Senior Queso” is in the competition this year??

  13. Jared:

    Thanks for comments. Overall, generally, I hear what you say and know what you mean. I believe the competition at the very highest levels is brutally fierce. Frito-Lay is serious business. I think that probably 80+% of the submissions are more or less amateurish crap and another healthy percentage still aren’t professional enough. Perhaps ours does not have the “smash you in the face with a bat, explode your gut” kind of punchlines. I’m just really hoping (praying) for a possible Top 6. I do think ours is absolutely as strong or stronger than SOME of your top 25, in bottom-line punchiness as well. A few spots have what looks like hundred thousand dollar technical budgets and I feel some of those may be hard to beat also.

    • I thought it looked good Adam. Nice job! The one possible knock against it (no pun intended) is the hit to the groin. That was featured in the winner’s video last year. It still made me laugh this time too. Who knows how the judging will go but best wishes. Hey, you never know?

  14. Peter- thanks for nice comment. While we like to consider ourselves fairly independent thinkers generally with our projects, we know that there are stricter “rules” that seem to apply to such ad contests and we heeded the Herbert Bros’ specific advice in their “instructional video” this year, where they recommend some big physical type of humor, and specifically mention a punch/kick/blow to the balls as a guaranteed funny payoff. So hopefully Doritos can handle more knock-to-the-balls humor this year. But who knows?

  15. Hey Jared!

    I am looking for feedback (From EVERYONE Who Reads Your Blog) on our three postings to the Crash the Superbowl site. One spot is two slightly different versions.




    Please leave a comment on the video post or here. I look forward to hearing from you. πŸ™‚


    • Hi Jon,

      Looks like you have some pretty good equipment in your stable (camera, some sort of dolly system or the smoothest hand-held work in the history of television). For starters, I think some revisions to your scripts may have amplified your efforts this go around (I need to watch them again to offer more details – I saw them last night). I also don’t think you needed the dolly movement save for the shot tracking across the couch which revealed the characters (2nd shot?) and the push in to the face after hearing the crunch. Best wishes nonetheless. Let’s see what the judges say.

      • Hello Peter, thank you for the feedback. I wrote the script based on my 20 year old son’s idea and since we got a late start we did all of this within one week and shot the footage a week before the drop dead date. The contraption used was a home made device I call a glider rail that I had just finished fabricating. I know that all of the moving shots were not necessary but I wanted to do something different. Most of the scenes were shot at 24P except the action shots and I believe the moving shot during the lunge was necessary for effect. I will post some pictures somewhere for more detail on the glider rail usage plus we shot behind the scenes footage in SD to show how some of it was done. Your feedback is valuable, most people just tell me how much they like it and that they can see it airing during the Superbowl. The Doritos Fairy production was my assistants idea and we shot it on the Saturday before the deadline. She went into the office Sunday afternoon to edit and I did finishing touches on Monday before uploading to the site. We like to refer to this type of production as “Just In Time Productions” which is my other name for our business… πŸ™‚

        • Cool Jon. I know exactly what the glider rail system is. I have entered a few contests (not this one – I’ll wait until next year if there is a contest) at the last minute myself so I know exactly what you mean about “Just In Time Productions”. Now that you mentioned your hurried pace to get this in, please allow me a moment to share my philosophy regarding time and this contest. I have observed the process Jared and others undergo (there are many very high-end companies producing entries for this particular contest probably due to the exposure and the payout). I should preface this by stating I make a living producing local/regional TV spots and I have noted the stark contrast in the amount of time Jared and company take to plan, shoot and edit their entries – even showing drafts to people for feedback ahead of time. This is very rare in the local market, although on the plus side it’s almost guaranteed money (“almost” meaning the client has to approve the ad to air and has to have the integrity to actually pay their bill) albeit a relatively small amount of revenue compared to this contest. Anyway, I know I’m up against some really great, national quality material in this contest (roughly the top 3% of the total entries but they only pick six) so I would recommend to you what I recommend to myself and anyone else. Plan and develop a concept for next year’s contest right now. Script over the Holidays and show it to a trusted circle of peers, making revisions if necessary. Storyboard it and cast it carefully – while family and friends are great people in your life, as untrained actors they stick out like a sore thumb (no matter how great a director/coach you are). Take several days to shoot it, meticulously planning the lighting and angles (and perhaps allowing for experimentation) and then allow yourself a full two weeks to edit – showing works in progress to your peers for feedback. Anything less than this level of effort will not likely yield anyone the results they desire. Again, this is the reason I didn’t make an attempt this round – too much on my plate (and like you, I’m usually jamming to meet tight deadlines). Speaking of plates, Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone!

          • Peter, judging by the entries that make it to the top I choose to believe that CTSB is not looking for super high end “agency” type productions. My bet is on the less sophisticated productions that have the correct elements to reach its intended demographic market. We considered who we cast and had to change out one person because they couldn’t pull it off. What we wanted was something natural that would speak to this generation, we didn’t want it acted out. Most of the submissions feature young children or young adults above college age 27 – 35 and I wanted to use my son’s idea and his age group.

            We are taking a chance of course with these ideas employed but I really liked this being a family project. Even my wife, daughter and two good friends helped during production. If we place in the top six it would mean a lot to my family and that is what I hopeful for.

            If it were not for Jared reminding me with his peer group review request we would not have had anything at all. I hope you were not inferring that we wasted our time and money on this project just because of the time span to get it done in was tight. I hope it turned out better than that… πŸ™‚

        • Hi Jon,

          It won’t let me reply to your last response (after my 2nd). Please note that I wasn’t inferring any such thing – just relaying my general philosophy that anything worthwhile takes time. You had stated that you pretty much did things last minute and I have done the same in the past, much to my regret. You may be very well right that CTSB isn’t looking for the most polished productions (although if they’re promising big dollars for ads that place highest on the USA Today meter during the Superbowl – obviously famous for the commercial breaks – I think they’re looking for hard hitting content. Wouldn’t you agree?) I think it’s great that your family was involved and wish you well in the judging.

          • Peter, I agree with that philosophy and I usually drive people crazy with it. Your points are well taken about the add hitting hard. The Superbowl demands are great especially for the cost per half minute spot. Even though our spot flows well I am concerned about the level of impact for most folks. Like I said we have had great feedback from many folks with varied backgrounds. The age of our actors are my second concern, not sure how that will go over.

            Thank you for your comments and I apologize for gigging you with my “waste of time comment” but I couldn’t help myself… πŸ™‚

            Do you have any of your work posted online?

            Best regards,


        • “Do you have any of your work posted online?”

          Like I said, it’s all low-budget local stuff but here goes:

          • Peter, I really enjoyed the “Is this my own personal pitcher?” and the Santa falling into the Hanicka celebration. All in all very good work, what were your budget ranges? Around here I find most budgets to be $100.00 (J/K) but at least it seems that way sometimes. I can’t tell you how much I have had to pass up. I’d rather do it for free (lying) just to produce something. Right now I am working on getting a product promotional for something that is unique and high end. We just wrapped a promotional production for a ministry and along with it they surprised me with another video project. It was a special thank you video for Dr. Crouch who is the co-founder of the Tulsa Good Samaritan Mobile Health Clinic. I found out about the “special” project while I was out on a shoot gathering footage for the original video request…

            I have only been doing this full time since August 2006. My background is in technology and to broad to list. I currently hold a CBT from the Society of Broadcast Engineers and my only professional broadcast experience has been in radio. The reason I went this direct was out of desire based on 20+ years of experience in audio and video work. It is a tough business to break into… It has been an interesting ride!

        • I produce for my church too. As for the demo, thanks for your kind words. I was mostly a solo act (did everything “soup to nuts” having to get client approval) with budgets between $450 and $900 on those spots. I have proposed to a bunch of guys I’ve worked with over the years that we all work together on a contest entry for next year. It will be quite a relief to have a real “team” feel for the production. We’re going to designate the writing, directing, shooting, editing, etc… to the person in the group with the most experience and success in that discipline. When given proper resources and time, my specialty (I’m told by my local peers) is lighting and camera. Hopefully our writer will draft something very cool. He does have a creative mind so there is hope. Ha ha. Nice to meet you (sort of) Jon. Best wishes in this business.

  16. Hi Jared,
    Great work, from Doritos to Youtube info segments and everything in between. Thanks for all the tips. We have so much fun with videos ourselves but lack the professional look. Our Doritos entry (2377) is an example of what I am talking about. We have a simple Handycam. Will a better camera help out, or do I need to zoom a little more and have even more lights (in your opinion)
    Any other tips would be greatly appreciated!
    Be honest, I have no video sensitivity.
    Thanks in advance and keep up the great work.

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