This time tree years ago, as a finalist in the Doritos contest, I was walking through our local mall handing out fliers. I visited barber shops and stood outside grocery stores passing out those same fliers. I visited every small business in my little southern California hamlet of Claremont that didn’t have a “NO SOLICITING’ sign on the door. I must have shaken hands with half the residents. Each of them recieved a flier. All told, I passed out 4,000 of them babies over the course of the two week campaign. I know the number, because it was my printer ink, hard stock paper and scissors that made them. By the time I was done campaigning, I could have run for mayor and won. Sadly, as a result of face to face campaigning, I came in dead last in the voting. No SuperBowl play for me, boohoo.
Boy was I a rookie back then. In this new, not so brave social networking world, I would come to learn that ‘social circles’ no longer meant people you actually meet and/or break bread with, share a bowling lane or invite to your child’s birthday party. No, social networking now means, cyber-acquaintances, many of whom you will never meet in your lifetime. The new ‘global village’.
I thought a ‘face to face’ campaign would be more solid than anything I could do on the internet. Mind you I still emailed voting links to my humble address book, but at that time I hadn’t nurtured any kind of massive on-line Social Network. In fact I had only bought my first ever computer just two years earlier. Yeah…I was an internet rookie and my kids saw a lot more of their dad back then, but that’s a story for a another blog post.
HISTORY: Back in 2006-2007, the contest was administrated on the now defunct ‘JumpCut’ site (Yahoo or Google bought it and summarily killed it – no funeral). On the Jumpcut.com site, a contestant could watch his view numbers in comparison to his competition as the campaign period progressed. During my campaign I noticed most everyones numbers except for mine and the Herbert Brothers were rising at a nice steady pace. (Like myself, the Herbert brothers were not quite as successful the first time around at ‘getting out the vote’). At one point I was being killed on the leader board 10 -1 on a daily basis. Technically, view numbers aren’t ‘voting’ numbers… but in reality, they are. If a competitors video gained 10,000 views over a period of time, let’s say that really meant that only 2,000 people voted for them……well if I receive only 2,000 views over the same period of time, should I be naive enough to believe that I also received 2,000 votes? In reality I received only about 200 votes (the same 10% ratio as my competitor). This was borne out in 2007, as the top two ‘viewed‘ videos, also ended up being the top two ‘voted‘ videos.
THE PRESENT: With this in mind let’s take a look at the this year’s leader board as of 11:21 AM, Thursday, January 14, 2010.
Currently (and this race is far from over), Casket, Kids These Days and Snack Attack Samurai, are in the lead. Now, admittedly, I failed to take note of how many views these spots had on January 4th. This would have been helpful to determine the ‘increase’. If anyone can send me a screen capture verifying some January 4th numbers I would appreciate it. In the absence of that though, in two weeks as the voting phase nears conclusion I will be able to predict with decent accuracy which three spots will prevail for SuperBowl play.
Last year, the view numbers were hid from the public/contestant. Not sure why. I have a feeling that Doritos learned from that mistake and went back to the original game plan of showing the views. Given that the majority of grass roots exposure (real marketing) is being done by these five finalists, Doritos has learned that it is important for the finalists to see when they are ‘falling behind’. In this way, the whip is sufficiently cracked and the incentive to execute additional marketing occurs, with Doritos at the top of each campaign guidon blowing in the Facebook breeze. Smart of Doritos to double the campaign period from when I was a finalist. Now the contestants get to pester social contacts for a month instead of just two weeks. Can you say Nodoz?
Hey, this is smart and I would say maybe even…’fair’. I mean after all, these finalists received their $25,000.00 marching stipend, right? I am going to let you guys in on a little secret. With regard to these separate voting campaigns: Doritos could not reach as many consumers with nearly the same intensity for the $150,000.00 they shelled out for these 6 finalists. You see, even if only 5% of the recipients of the “Please Vote For Me” emails actually view/vote, 100% of them still hear about the ‘Doritos Brand’. Doritos couldn’t reach this many potential consumers with equivalent fervor for 100 times this amount of money. Think about it. If Doritos calls you up on their own behalf and tries to tug at your heart strings how effective would it be? Now imagine the person calling you up on Doritos behalf is your room mate from college, your cousin, your old little league teammate, your sister, your brother, your…….you get the picture.
NOTE: Spamming is illegal…unless you have your finalists do it for you.
Minions of the kingdom, don’t get me wrong. There is definitely an upside for the freelancers who prevail as finalists. This def. can open doors for a freelancer who is willing to hustle, (as it did for me), but please don’t think that Doritos>FritoLays>Goodby>PepsiCo is doing this out of the kindness of their heart(s) or that the ‘Top Three’ is the deal breaker for whether or not they run the contest next year…because it’s not.
Sorry, but I roll my eyes when I read the kind of hand-wringing-fear coming from some of the bloggers like my buddy Beardy over at Video Contest News, who is so afraid Doritos might not run the contest again if it doesn’t make the top three…….
“…[We] should focus on ensuring that the best videos of the Top 6 make it to the Superbowl. Breaking into the Top 3 on the Ad Meter is the entire point of this year’s contest,. So if the selected commercials flop and don’t accomplish that goal, Doritos might decide to try something different in 2011“.
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Please!!!! Beardy, I love ya man, but you need to see the bigger picture here. Doritos is here to sell Doritos, nothing else. They are not the ‘Philanthropists’ of the freelance creative community. They are a cutting edge, brilliantly marketed company that does business by the numbers ($$$), as well they should. Nothing wrong with that, but all you minions need to know what the score is, and the VCK is here to bring it to you. Were it not profitable to run this contest (regardless of how the Top Three pan out), PepsiCo wouldn’t do it.
Let’s dissect how much bang Doritos is getting for their buck, regardless of how the Top Three pan out. As an example, we will use Five Point Productions (finalists with two spots this year: ‘Underdog‘ and ‘Kids These days‘).
If you go to their campaign site www.doritoscontest.com (nicely designed with a very cool web address), you will see some of the principals involved in the project. There are eight (8) faces to the venture. I know, having met these very nice people (some of them are my friends to this day) that there are also supportive wives, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, grandparents etc. that will help out where this campaign is concerned. So let’s say we add in two (2) behind the scenes supporters per visible principal. 8 x 3 = 24 campaigners. The campaign voting period runs from January 4th thru January 31st. Let’s say that each of these 24 campaign workers labor a regular work day (8) hours per day for the 4 week campaign period.
(24) employees x (8) hours per day = (192) campaign hours
(192) campaign hours x (28) days = (5,376) campaign hours
(5,376) campaign hours / $50,000 award = $9.30 per hour.
Okay, so admittedly, some of the volunteers will not work 8 hours per day. Some may not work at all some days. Some, though are working 16 hours per day. Trust me I know, I’ve been there. So the estimate of 8 hours per day is probably pretty accurate. Bottom line, Doritos is employing a high octane army of marketers for a smidgin above the minimum wage, and with a ferocity and passion you could never get corporate employees to dedicate themselves, let alone 3rd party marketers or ad agency employees, mostly eager to punch the clock at 5:00PM.
I haven’t even factored in opportunity costs, gas, food, printing costs, and the other tangible expenses that go along with this campaigning. Nor have I factored in the intellectual property value of the commercials themselves, (labor, props, favors asked/owed) all, handed over to the brand along with the campaigning.
EG: Last time I checked, my web guy charges a tad more than $9 an hour to develop a very slick web site and to do it all within a two week time period.
And consider this: Had Five Points scored only one video in the finalist bracket they would still have marshalled the same campaign army, only then, at the pay rate of $4.68 per hour (the rate, the rest of the finalists are currently pulling down). In the end, if all things are to be factored in, the labor rate could be as little as $2.00 an hour with the IP (commercial) given away free. Now that’s good business.
So please, people, before you think that Doritos ‘took a chance’, do the math. Believe me, they do. If they don’t run this contest next year, it will have less to do with whether or not the commercials placed in the Top Three, than most people think.
Admittedly, if one or more of the finalists are as fortunate as the Herbert Brothers were last year to bag some serious cash than it is all worth it, but going in, we know the odds of that happening. And if Doritos has to write a 6 or 7 digit check to someone after the SuperBowl, that type of event has it’s own publicity awards, so this is a win/win for Doritios no matter how it unfolds.