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Crashing the Super Bowl Party

Doritos

The finalists have been announced for the Doritos user-created Super Bowl commercial contest. In ten days, one of them is going to be watched — and judged — by millions of viewers.

For anyone that hasn’t heard about this, here’s an executive summary from the original press release:

In today’s increasingly reality-driven world, people are looking for new ways to interact with, help shape and even personalize what is important to them, explains Ann Mukherjee, vice president, marketing, Doritos. While we’ve had great success with star-studded Super Bowl commercials in years past, today we are most inspired by the people who love Doritos chips; this year, they’re telling us they want to be in control and we’re giving them that control on one of the world’s most watched events.â

In looking at the finalists, I was struck by the fact that the ideas are really not considerably worse (or better) than what you might get from an agency. If anything, they’re a bit edgier.

What the spots really lacked was polish and craft. The digital revolution may provide easy access to video shooting and editing, but only experience provides the chops required to tell a story effectively.

On YouTube and other User Generated Content sites, there’s an expectation of an amateurish feel. In in a world overloaded with million dollar spots, this can sometimes make for a refreshing change.

But when it actually is a million dollar spot we’re talking about — or more accurately, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2.5 million — I think people might be expecting more. It’s like letting a garage band play the half time show.

Regardless, the whole experience of watching these spots was thought-provoking. One thing you can’t help noticing is that the traditional agency brings more to the table than just ideas. They also bring their connections to what I’d call the craft side of advertising — the production houses, directors, editors and cinematographers that really bring the concepts to life.

Given the same budgets, could amateur filmmakers create the slick results expected of a Superbowl spot? I honestly don’t think so. In that sense at least, rumours of the death of the traditional agency are greatly exaggerated.

Geoff Teehan More posts by Geoff Teehan