User-generated Super Bowl Ads
I admit it — I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. I’m not a football fan, but I’ve loved the clever 30 second stories that appear during commercial breaks since I was a kid. The quick wit and humor is what attracted me to pursuing a career in advertising and design.
This year, Doritos has once again embraced the talent of its consumers. The user-generated media contest ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ challenged US residents to come up with their own 30 second commercial for the brand. The top 5 finalists each received $25,000 and the winner was determined by online voters then aired during the Super Bowl. If the winning ad got the top spot on the USA TODAY Ad Meter they then received an additional $1,000,000. This year’s winner was Joe Herbert for his “Free Doritos!” entry. A close second was “Power of the Crunch”, which also aired during the Super Bowl. “New Flavor Pitch” was one of my favorites, but didn’t seem to make the cut (Note: a reader commented that the ad did air during the pre-game show).
User-generated media has been around for a while but has accelerated with the availability of software tools (Final Cut Pro), affordable digital filmmaking equipment (Panasonic AG-DVX 100), and online communities (SF Cutters). The film ‘Snakes on a Plane’ created buzz by allowing users to contribute to the script, Modest Mouse invited fans to create their music video for ‘Missed the Boat’ (I submitted an entry — a great experience), and Silverado Systems along with Vuze created a video editing contest called OpenCut, which eventually ended up as a Guiness World Record for the most people involved in editing one film (another great experience).
The participants in these contests range from high school students to professionals. Some ad executives have reacted negatively to user-generated media, but I think it shows that good ideas can come from anyone. It’s in the execution that a story can fall short of its potential. Casting, writing, post-production — I have yet to see a user-generated piece that meets the level of quality that comes from a team of branding professionals.