At least four ads in the upcoming Super Bowl extravaganza are being produced not by ad agencies but through "user generated" contests. Advertisers are paying up to $2.6 million to run a 30-second commercial on Super Bowl XLI, being broadcast by CBS. Production costs can add another million.
Compare that to the Dorito "Live the Flavor" ad created by Weston Phillips, 22, and Dale Backus, 21, in North Carolina. They spent $12.79 … plus a lot of hours … and their existing investment in technology, of course. Their entry is one of five finalists; there were 1,060 video submissions.
The WaPo writer is wrong, in my opinion, to call these producers
"amateurs" because too often I think we associate the word with someone "lacking the skill of a professional." As Phillips notes, his team was actively trying to break into the advertising field:
"We were trying to get into advertising in mid-October, a month or two
before we saw the Doritos contest," Phillips said. "When we saw the
prize — $10,000 and your ad gets aired in the Super Bowl — we really
didn’t think about the repercussions of having an ad in the Super Bowl.
We were looking at the $10,000 and thinking, ‘That would be pretty
And his team isn’t alone. Kristin Dehnert, who created the "Check Out Girl" spot, has a degree in Speech Communications from the University of Illinois and is "Location Manager and Scout for commercials as my paid ‘day job’
but my true passion is writing and directing. My dream is to make
directing commercials and feature films my new ‘day job’." She’s won 11 awards for a short film, "Underground."
Neither fits my idea of an "amateur." Nor, really, do winners in two other SuperBowl ad contests.
GM took a different approach from Frito Lay: They invited 11 students from five colleges — Elon University (NC), San Jose State University, Savannah (GA)
College of Art and Design, Washington University – St. Louis, and the
University of Wisconsin — to compete for a SuperBowl ad slot and an advertising job. There were 820 teams competing for the final slots. Because CBS is broadcasting the SuperBowl, the CBS website — and CBS news — has featured the competition with regular installments.
And the NFL took yet another approach: they solicited ad concepts from fans. The winner (out of 1700 fans) is Gino Bona, 33, director of business development for a Portland, Maine, marketing firm.
His ideas for ad images include a foam No. 1 finger slowly being stowed
in a closet, a New England Patriots’ fan sadly washing off his face
paint and a group of game-watchers getting a season-long bar tab of
$6,000. He proposed the Boyz II Men song It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday as the soundtrack.
Watch the (IMO) two best Frito’s ads (but remember, I’m not the demographic!):