Doritos: Crash the Super Bowl -insights

Doritos’ ads during Super Bowl XLIX (Feb, 2, 2015)

So I might be late (ok, really late) jumping into the Super Bowl converstation (is there even a Super Bowl conversation going on anymore?). Naturally, a marketing major’s homework over Super Bowl weekend is to analyze the ads! Of course, I was inundated by the amount of ads that had to do with sick kids, happy dads, and puppies. My main assignment, however, was to focus on one particular brand’s campaign: Doritos. My marketing capstone professor’s former TA is a brand manager at Doritos (in Frito Lay). Curtis, the brand manager, asked my class our opinions on the ads and the marketing strategy Doritos employs for its Super Bowl campaign, and then he debriefed us on the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into pulling off such a successful campaign. Let’s see the magic of how this consumer-generated Super Bowl ad legend works.

A brief overview of what I’m talking about:

Doritos holds a video contest called Crash the Super Bowl, where fans can enter a 30-second commercial. The contests’ finalists are revealed about a month before the big game. The grand winner and the runner-up ads are aired on national television during the Super Bowl itself. The grand prize for the maker of the winning commercial is $1 million and a dream job at Universal Studios!

How it works:

Eager fans who are film-making-savvy enter their 30-second commercial to Doritos. From there, 10 finalists are chosen by the judges. The judges have brand equity in mind when picking the finalists, so that’s what makes it okay that the final vote depends largely on consumers. Of the two that air on national TV during the game, one is voted on entirely by consumers, and one is half consumer vote and half judges’ vote.

This year’s Crash the Super Bowl:

The first prize winner was the ad called “Middle Seat” and the runner up was a slightly more edgy/weird ad named “When Pigs Fly.” Can you guess which one was selected purely by consumer vote and which one was pushed along by the panel of judges?

In an informal survey of our class, the overwhelming response was that “When Pigs Fly” wasn’t that good, a lot of people didn’t get it, and many of us didn’t find it that relevant or funny. Hearing that, we were all confused when it was revealed that “When Pigs Fly” was the ad that was weighted on heavily by the judges! The winner based solely on consumer votes was “Middle Seat,” and as a class, we all agreed it was more funny than the runner-up. I do understand why the judges, who have brand equity in mind, may have picked the piggy one: that commercial exclusively mentions Doritos, and it appeals more to younger kids (say, elementary- and middle-schoolers). When you have a preteen in the house, the snack imports of your household are largely dependent on them. Naturally, chip-makers want to target this bratty little demographic. As adults viewing the Super Bowl, we enjoy the ads most when they are relevant and funny to us. Almost anyone that has traveled by airplane can join in on the conversation about weird seat-neighbors, so that’s my justification of why “Middle Seat” was voted #1 by consumers, but not necessarily the judges.

Doritos Crashes Social Media:

After “Middle Seat” was aired on TV and revealed as the grand prize winner of Crash the Super Bowl during the game, Southwest Airlines jumped up with a Twitter promo: Get a bag of Doritos if you sit in the middle seat! Very timely, and a very good, easy brand push for Southwest. Now, you ask, was this all planned out? The answer is “kind of.” Doritos did not reveal which spot was going to win to anyone prior to the national reveal, but Doritos had planned a promo for almost every finalist, so that as soon as a winner was announced, some more buzz could be created out it. What a cool way to get yourself talked about!

Also before, during, and after the Super Bowl game, Doritos had its Twitter game going strong with funny tweets, a “fake ad” video that made fun of all the mushy-gushy ad content this year, and some funny tweets at other brands.

A good deal:

The Crash the Super Bowl campaign is a wonderful thing for Doritos. Think about it from their perspectives- no money spent on production because happy fans who want to be famous will produce the ad for you for free. Because you’ll be saving a TON of money on that, you can afford to hand out $1 million to the winner, so now you have saved money and have acquired many superfans. The consumer-generated content is producing what consumers want to see, without having to do an expensive consumer insights study to learn what they want to see- just let them make what they want to see! Lastly, of all the 4,900 entrees that Doritos received, every single one of those 4,900 amateur directors was probably posting his video on his Facebook and blog, probably gaining about 4,000 impressions each, if not more! And then the voting stage… you basically have hundreds of thousands of people actively visiting your site and sharing your URL on other sites. You’ve basically just hit marketing bingo!

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