Doritos Top Six… Reviewed and Rated by the VCK

1 of 6

This review of ‘Kids These Days’ by Nick Dimondi, is the 1st of six issued by the VCK for the six finalists in the 2009-2010 Crash The Superbowl Doritos commercial contest. You may page backwards or forwards through any of the six sequential
blog posts to read any/all of the reviews.

The Doritos Judges have spoken!

Let the murmuring begin.

Hey minions of the kingdom. Today’s the day we have all been waiting for. No more guess work. The gauntlet has been thrown. The fair maidens are swooning. The royal Banquet hall is abuzz, but not all guests are merry.

Over the course of the next week, I am going to review the commercials Doritos selected to represent their brand to the world this coming February. I will try to issue one thorough and detailed review per day. As expected, the King will be fair and just. The commercial will receive a PRO dressing and a CON lashing. I will be as frank and honest as I have been in the several hundred reviews I’ve issued over the last several months, showing no favoritism and even less undeserved mercy.


My life experience is a singular. No one is free of this truth. I may see clearly through something that is opaque to a fellow peer and because of contrasting socioeconomic backgrounds. No crime, just the truth.

A joke is only funny to those who ‘get it’. The better crafted the comedy though the wider the audience it appeals to. I admit there are occasionally jokes I do not ‘get’. It doesn’t necessarily follow that they weren’t funny. It just means that the King did not laugh. This however will be the bar to which these commercials will be judged. The king must laugh or the lions gate will be opened.

I will rate these commercials at a bar well above what is expected of national quality content. After all, it’s only fair to measure Doritos against the same bar to which they judge the rest of us. This rating is calculated taking into consideration the strengths of these videos relative to the quality of all 16 CTSB finalists from previous years and is measured on a scale of one (1) through ten (10).

If the reader cares to see these videos for him/herself, the easiest way is to go to the CTSB YouTube channel.

The Video                                                         The Rating

Kids These Days…………………………………………8.2
The Smackout………………………………………………7.5
Snack Attack Samurai …………………………….….7.0
House Rules……………………………………………….4.9

The Reviews:

1 of 6

Kids These Days‘ by Nick Dimondi
FIVE POINT Productions

Before I start in with the reviews, I’d like to congratulate Five Point Productions out of Cary, North Carolina. They were the first to win the Doritos contest at it’s inception four years ago, and are back again with a vengeance in 2010. They submitted two great spots and employed a very smart strategy when registering with the contest. They registered their spots under pseudonyms and two different owner/households, so that each commercial had a chance to be considered for finalist status. Kind of pretentious huh? I know a few eyebrows raised around here when I did the same thing with my three spots (asking my brothers to come on board as producers to register my three spots separately). I told friends and family, “Hey, what if Doritos wants more than one of my wonderful masterpieces of Good Looking Chubby White Boy art?”…man did the eyes roll. That Jared is pretty full of himself they would think. Way to go Five Points. Thanks for redeeming me from my detractors.

You see, in the current rules format Doritos only allows one finalist spot per director/household…..”. The only way to score two finalist spots in a single year/contest is to register them with separate owners. So a director may be common to two spots, but not an ‘owner’ (blink, blink). I love semantics. This strategy payed off for the Herbert Brothers four years ago when they scored two semi-finalist slots in the semi-final eight, before eventually having one of their spots eliminated in the finals. It only makes sense that if someone can produce a great spot once, they can do it a second time, even in the same year. Frankly, if Doritos is serious about beating the competition via the USA Today poll, they should do away with the ridiculous ‘one per household’ rule, since it is so easy to execute a work around anyway.

Okay, on to the review.

PRO: A general rule to follow when producing content for national quality commercials is the 25-35/:30 rule. This rule suggests there should be 25-35 clips per :30 commercial. This requirement correlates with the entertainment requirements of our short attention span X-Box culture. Sometimes though, when content is strong enough, you can flip the bird to the rules and this is what Nick Dimondi did with ‘Kids These Days‘.

Except for the action cuts within the frame, this spot is arguably a single shot. I thought it was brilliantly conceived. I know personally as a writer/director I am always trying to brainstorm ways to have a single lighting scheme, single location, single camera setup yet still execute potent content. Excellent work here. These guys are not strangers to superior content. Five Points created the  ‘Live the Flavor‘ commercial that won the first Crash The Superbowl contest, entering the advertising record books as being the first commercial created by consumers and produced for only $12,79. It should also be noted that the ‘Live The Flavor‘ spot would go on to score #4 in the USA Today meter poll….something that had never previously occurred for Doritos.

Lighting: Nice and even. They took a big chance here. I think if the sun is going in and out all day, it would have made the ‘single shot’ gamble a losing proposition. The viewers eye adjusting to a changing background and shadow scheme which would have distracted greatly. That the lighting environment never changed allowed this action to feel like it happened as part of a real single moment in time.

Casting: The casting was strong. I have cast before in Burbank California, and had over 300 submissions  per role, inviting 60+ per role to be interviewed and I don’t think given the same script for ‘Kids These Days’ that I could have done a better job. I gloated for a reason. I believe these guys executed the casting in North Carolina and do not have the resources that I have here in So. Cal. (plethora of actors, many of whom are excellent and will gladly work for free to build a reel), yet still cast this with types as appropriate as any national production company would. The physical comedy was marvelous. I love the ‘pointy finger’ of the kid. I laugh every time he points that finger at the old man. It’s as if he is saying “No you didn’t….oh yes you did….and though I am clean cut and look harmless and normally respect my elders, I would so kick your ass right now old man, if only my ass cheeks didn’t feel like they were somehow wrapped around my earlobes“. The senior citizen had great acting chops as well. No weaknesses here.

Camera Work: Beautiful in it’s simplicity. Nothing to hate. A minor shortcoming I will address in the CON.

Writing/Script: The writing is very smart. When you think of how hard it is to keep the attention of a viewer who will be forced to look at basically the same static shot for :30, kudos must be given to the writer(s).

Editing: Though the editing job on content like this is made fairly easy compared to other types of content, there is always room to ‘blow it’ if your I’s aren’t dotted and your T’s aren’t crossed. This feels like Barrett Philips editing. If it is, great job man.

Branding: It is easy to understand why Doritos liked this spot. It is perfect branding. It allowed for the product to be on screen for the entire :30 but without being a distraction. Trust me people, this is not an easy thing to do. It is why ‘product placement’ jokes have become cliche. These guys made it the center of attention without making it the center of attention… genius.

The ‘love for the brand’ is what this whole spot is all about. From the beginning when the old man is digging for change…when the young guy comes sauntering up all hungry….when the old man tazers him….the object of their affection is clear and unencumbered by any other plot points.

CON: THere were a few things that should/could have been changed that could have added value to this spot.

Music Bed: Rarely have I seen a spot that can’t be helped by a music bed. ESPECIALLY one where there is no dialogue to worry about. This spot screamed for a music bed. There were some classical options in the directors tool box that could have worked beautifully. With the apogee riff of a sting placed right over the tazer, it could have elevated this piece to Oscar worthy.

Directing: The directing had some shortcomings. When the old man was looking through the glass, he should have been looking directly at the object of his affection, ‘The Doritos Bag”. He often looks in places that didn’t always make sense. Yes, I know he is a senior citizen and maybe the director was trying to suggest a little senility, but I’m not buying it. This old man is focused and prepared, complete with tazer. He also repeated his ‘peering into the glass’ action a few times in the same spot. This repeating of essential the same content took a couple of points off in my book. In other words: To be perfect, every second of the the 30 seconds should have relevance. If you can remove 2, 3 or 4 seconds and still tell the same story than that 2, 3 or 4 seconds is by definition, ‘fluff’. Analyzed fully, this is really a 22-25 second story spread over the :30 format. Becasue there are many other redeeming values, this is forgiven, but still a weakness that could have been strengthened with the addition of a visual/bit by way of writing.

PROPS / Continuity/ Blocking:

1. There are ‘blocking’ issues relevant to the main prop. The vending machine shakes a bit too easily when only coins are put into it by the old man. That the whole camera frame bounces a tad when this happens is a little disappointing.  When the young man’s head hits the vending machine, it jarrs the ‘camera’ to the left quite a bit. This is a great site gag. Here, having the vending machine ‘move‘ is appropriate. Problem is, post black slug text graphic, when the live action picks back up, we find that the camera angle is returned back to where it was while shooting the earlier footage. Though this may be lost on the average viewer, it is the kind of stuff that is regularly scrutinized by peers and types that would judge wether a spot is Clio worthy or not. The director needed to devise a way to have the new camera angle (jarred vending machine) remain consistent for the last two action clips. Otherwise it becomes clear the last scene was shot earlier in the day before the camera/vending machine was actually hit in the head (moved) by the young dude.

2. I may be wrong on this because of ‘colorization’ issues, but I see where a traditional fire engine red bag of ‘Nacho Cheese’ Doritos suddenly changes into a red/burgundy bag of ‘Spicy Nacho’ after leaving the vending machine. Again, maybe it was just the overcast lighting, but I would have preferred to see the bag of chips in the old mans hand be just as snappy in color as the reflected bag off the glass. Admittedly, this is a minor point but it still looks like a continuity mistake where the bags flavors were switched.

3. I don’t think the mirror correction on the Dorito bag was necessary. The viewers would have given the creative/director all kind of love if he respected them to the extent they had to figure out the spelling by themselves. It would have taken all of 2 or 3 seconds, since the Doritos brand is so iconic (maybe even less time), and would have given the viewer that coveted interactivity they tend to respect when given them by great directors.


Please go to the next blog for review number 2 of 6

UNDERDOG‘ by jwsvoboda

aka Five Point Producitons


32 responses to “Doritos Top Six… Reviewed and Rated by the VCK

  1. I can’t believe I made it!!!

    I’d like to thank Jared and the Academy and…….
    Oh wait, I didn’t make it, never mind.

    Hahaha, I’ll save that speach for next year but I am excited to see who made it this year, this will be cool!

    • Damn it….for a second there I thought you were giving me a scoop Danny.
      Oh well, misery loves company and you are welcome within these castle walls anytime. Hey, please tell me you aren’t doing anything for the Louisianna Hot sauce contest.
      The VCK

  2. No animated ads were finalists! What a shock. 😉

  3. Hey, Jared.

    I’m one of the actors from Rose-Colored Doritos. Now that the finalists have been announced, I’d love to hear your feedback on our spot. Thanks!

    • Hey Andrew,
      I will for sure submit to reviewing your spot. I am going to review all six finalists as part of this blog post. Give me a few days while I get my mind around how exactly I will present the reviews for the finalists, but I will for sure review your wonderful spot. I don’t want to show my cards here, but in my opinion there are only three spots that have a chance of getting to the USA Today ‘Top Three’. If the balance of the six make it on during the game, I don’t believe Doritos will be writing any 6 or 7 figure checks come February.
      The VCK

      • I guess I should be flattered and saddened by this post, eh? We didn’t make the top 6 but felt we had a shot and most proud of what we did. I will tell you that I think the judges really picked 3 good and 3 weak spots. I always felt that Casket, Kids these days Animal Cruelty had a shot. Is anyone as shocked as I am that “Dave” didn’t make it? I wanted to thank you for having this place for everyone to voice there opinions, it’s a great forum and I have enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts. Maybe next year? If I can scrape myself off the floor, that is.

  4. Jared,
    I am the creator of ‘Fish out of Water’. You picked me for your top 10, thank you for recognizing a creative spot. Are you as disappointed as I am with the top 6? People would characterize my comments as being bitter, but when all the spots contour to the lowest common denominator and involve “frat like” antics, I feel badly that I was clever and unique. I should’ve punched my fish in the “nutts” for it to have been considered for the top 6. I feel badly for all those fantastically creative spots that deserved better.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hey mfaverman,
      I do feel your pain man. You had a great spot. Sorry that you weren’t in the winners circle. You have everything to be proud of though. You have an excellent directors piece for your reel. Your camera work, story, editing was ‘through the roof’ of better quality than standard national television fare and dare I say, superior to a few of these final 6. This will be born out as I give reviews to the field of winners.
      Keep your chin up man, you have skilz.
      The VCK

  5. Just as I thought. There is on spot in there just to be Politically Correct. No offense to the folks that made it but house rules is simply there to make Doritos look good to the world. House Rules is such a sorry spot.

  6. Judges are the finalists

    This is a conspiracy. Haha. Judges are the ones who made the nasty 3 that everybody can notice. Politically correct one is in full effect. I should hv taken that choice. Less to compete with in that sub-category of winner circle. It’s obvious that Casket, Kids these days & Smackout will win.

    Casket is the best for sure, but I doubt any of these 6 will make even top 10 on the USA today, unless every other commercials are as bad as these.

    Truly disappointed & puzzled……………….

  7. I think most of us would agree that Casket was the only spot we guessed would make it as a finalist. Curiously, it’s the only spot not centered around shots of people inflicting/ being inflicted with bodily harm…much like a certain sport that comes to mind…hmmm.

  8. Hi,
    I cannot believe what they chose to be finalist. What happened to all the great commercials everybody loved. Like by Dave, Front Page Films or o many others. Except snack attack samurai which is good, not excellent the rest, is average at best. I even think my commercial was better than those. I am very disappointing but also educated what the judges are looking for the next year. Does anyone feel like this or it just me?

  9. Well, I just looked at the top 6. At least no one can whine and moan and say “Whaa, whaa, Doritos only picked the big budget super pro looking stuff! how can my little spot ever compete, whaaa!”
    I found them to all be just ok. in production value, and in the creative. Very sub-par. WHY? Where is seinor queso? or the heaven and hell one that had that actress from Ferris Buelers Day Off in it? A very odd group of finalist indeed?!
    This will be the last Doritos contest I enter.

  10. OMG! This contest was a hoax. I feel sorry for the pros who spent time and money to get snubbed for mediocre ads that no ad company would pay for. How you praise that drivel as genius is puzzling. The public deserved better than this and Doritos is laughing to the bank. I don’t think I’ll eat Doritos again as this contest tastes like sour grapes and rotten tomatoes. Hey new Doritos flavors… What a crock!

    • Well don’t feel too sorry for “The Pros” Susan, they’ve got plenty of money and gear to mend their broken hearts. I’m kinda glad that the judges wern’t fooled by perfect polished spots that lacked significant content.

      I am kind of puzzled too about some of the 6 chosen, I definitly had other favorites that are not included. Doritos may re-evaluate their judging process next year once they see that none of these 6 make it in the top 3 of the USA Today poll IMO;)

  11. Boy do I regret spending hard-earned money on my spots. If they would have chosen the best of the best, I’d have been ok with the investment but I really feel for the “Doritos Please” crew. We flushed away money promoting a mockery of a contest. Doritos really pulled one over on film pros at large. I guess that means everyone goes really lowball and they get 3900 crap commercials instead of the added 100 good ones they could have if they play fair.

  12. Wow. I’m definitely a bit surprised with these finalists. It doesn’t discourage me at all. In fact, it reaffirms the idea that big budget does not increase your chances.

  13. Unfrigginbelievable…. five out of six are not funny… big budget aside there are a lot funnier videos out there… this contest is a joke… who picked the winners a bunch of six year olds?

  14. By the way, if anyone is looking at the finalists on the Crash website the ‘Next’ button does not proceed to the next FINALIST, just the next video in order of submission. This is pretty misleading.

  15. Jared,
    I would appreciate feedback on our video submission. If the review is harsh please feel free to e-mail me direct. I had alot of fun with this even though in hind site I would never submit an animated spot

    • Hey Doug,
      I would love to give you a review but it can only happen under two conditions.
      1. The review is for all to see. This site exists so the creatives who visit can learn from the successes and failures of their peers. If I give private reviews it renders this blog ineffective.
      2. You will need to wait about a week since I am issuing a very detailed review (one per day) for the six finalists in the contest.

      So I look forward to giving you coverage providing you can live with the above criteria.

      The VCK

  16. Oh man, I feel your pain, everyone. That pain is pretty much why I don’t enter contests anymore. I’m sure it was good practice, though. Good for your reel, too.

    FYI, Jared, all the finalists videos are now on the Doritos YouTube channel. It might be easier to link there so we don’t have to watch that dang heavy metal opening anymore.

    BTW, this is my favorite by far…

  17. I don’t blame you for skipping a day in judging these epic spots. You can stop anytime, since it’s obvious the best weren’t chosen. The snub of “Doritos Please” alone, which was far better than any other entry, tells us clearly that this was a rig. With six great ones, placing 1-2-3 may have been possible, but these 6. take three and tell me they can accomplish that! Never! If they do I will buy doritos again and sing there praises through the streets of Miami at the Super Bowl.

    • Hey Judge dink,
      From an overall perspective, having executed due diligence in watching thousands of these videos, and after establishing my own Top 25, and Top 10, with the exception of a few of the finalists, I have to concur.
      Back in November I blogged about ‘Doritos Please’ being overly slick and although humorous, containing no definitive ‘bust a gut’ laugh. That said, it was still funny, and without going out too far on a limb, IMO much funnier than three or four of the spots chosen by Doritos in the Top 6.

      Because Doritos (with all due respect) misled us last year into thinking that Production Values, ‘meant something’…Mike Gooubeaux, myself and countless others sunk serious assets into our productions (with Mike G.’s being arguably the the most elaborate AND impressive).
      Disappointedly, we discover that this year, P.V.’s were almost a litmus test for being disqualified. I am not dissing the finalists here, but there isn’t one spot in the group that was elaborate to the point that it cost any serious cash…..sorry, there just isn’t. I am not saying that P.V.’s alone should qualify anyone for anything, but I would definitely argue that Mike G.s spot had P.V.’s AND was flat out funnier and more interesting than at least half of the finalist field….so was ‘Dave’….so was ‘Don’t be that guy’… was….oh nevermind.

      I am sobbing right along with you Judge Dink and honestly hope that I am too busy to produce for the contest next year (if they have one) as it is becoming too tiresome and expensive to try to predict what they are looking for.

      I’ll end here by suggesting that, though Mike Goubeaux wasn’t recognized by Doritos for his contribution, he impressed a lot of people with this spot and the work he did last year for the contest. The guy is a stud and I am sure he will yet have a major ‘Day in the Sun’. He is welcome at my round table any day. When you see him, ask him how he likes his grog and I’ll have one of the royal wenches ready him a tall stein at the royal banquet table.

      The VCK

      • The thing that worries me is that after the USA Today poll comes out this year and doesn’t (Unlikely) include any of the Doritos spots, the Doritos folks will think it’s because they didn’t pick any Big Budget spots, thus they will over compensate next year with ONLY Big Budget spots.

        This contest was about the only one out there that didn’t leave me baffled, confused, and bewildered at the end until now. I’m not saying mine should have been selected but I definitly saw many others that should have been.

        Guess I’ll have to add this one to my long list of contest bewilderment, in other words, I have no idea what any contest is looking for anymore….

        • My worry Danny, is that 33.3% of the spots, arguably had no business being there. Don’t get me wrong, up until now I was part of the Doritos choir, but if brands around the world look at these finalists and say to themselves:

          “Wow, this is the best the freelance community has to offer?”, “Good thing Doritos had those 3 or 4 decent ones coz the rest of the 4,000 videos must have sucked”.

          This sort of statement doesn’t reflect well on us when the brands of the world are deciding what to do with their venture capital. I know Doritos put’s these commercials in front of test panels and they do their due diligence to make sure to ‘get it right’ when picking them, but in the three years they have run this contest I have never seen such disparity in the finalist bracket.

          I hope I am wrong. I don’t want Doritos to get embarrassed. The success of ‘The Crash’ has been a major catalyst for the increase in video contests throughout the industry over the last several years. I honestly hope these spots garner the 1,2&3 on the USA Today poll. More pragmatically, I hope the ‘right’ ones come out of the internet voting so that Doritos at least has a shot of getting something in the top five.

          I am okay with lower production values prevailing as a finalist, as long as the content is tightly executed and contains the requisite humor.

          The VCK

  18. Well I should have known we were in for incompetence when the original website was revealed with poor concept and execution – having to run through the countdown every time, slow loading, non rotating additions, lost videos, poor encoding, etc. This last round of judging only solidifies that someone is asleep at the wheel. And what’s with the “politically correct” selection? Interestingly the latino community has been snubbed by Doritos even in this regard.

  19. The Underdog and Kids These Days guys are posting some behind the scenes stuff each day. Some are pretty funny. Also helps see what was going on between the two teams.

  20. I think it’s ironic that while complaining that House Rules was only picked for “political correctness” you yourselves are being politically correct by refusing to come right out and saying that the only reason it was picked was because it featured black people.

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