Thursday, December 05, 2013

Doritos' Top 20 Semi-Finalists - Crash the Super Bowl VIII

The 20 semi-finalist commercials were announced this morning. It must be true that scores and views didn't matter to the judges; many of these semifinalists have dismal ratings (one currently has 1 out of 5 stars!).

I hadn't seen most of these and feel disappointed some of my favorite highly rated choices were left out. Perhaps the style and content choices are different because it's the first time the contest has been open outside of the U.S., or because it's the top 20 and not the top 5. Whatever the reason, there are several weak semi-finalist contenders that break past winners' patterns and don't accurately represent the Doritos brand. The contest results have been so consistent in the past that I can't help but hope the anomalies will wash out in thirty days when the five finalists are chosen.

*UPDATE 1: Holy Doritos! They picked more than 20 Semi-Finalists, a fact I missed in the middle of the night. I have updated to include all 24 entries.

*UPDATE 2: Well now I couldn't love Dan L. more. Over at his terrific Video Contest, he's posted a great article about the weirdly anomalous inclusion of misogynistic and offensive semi-finalists. Since people seem to take these issues more seriously when they are presented by a man,  PLEASE check out his thoughts and picture me standing behind him nodding and mouthing "Preach!". And thanks again to Dan. L for all his terrific Crash the Superbowl coverage over the years.

Also I've had some emails and comments that indicate readers haven't seen my rather thorough analysis of the common elements of the twenty-six finalists since 2007. Please check it out. I'm not talking out of my ass here; I actually looked at the data and analyzed the patterns of what Doritos consistently tells us is their Crash the Super Bowl brand.

My predictions for the finalists (top 5) of Crash the Superbowl VIII:

Solid story that sells the brand, in the office location Doritos judges love to choose. **There was a similar entry this year with an ostrich being framed that was much funnier, but perhaps the ostrich was not enough of an other to avoid insult. Doritos judges prefer the joke victim to be a white male, and this commercial fits the bill. (**Actually the Breakroom Ostrich DID make the cut! He knocks my Office Thief pick out of the top 5 to join the other top 19). Goooo Ostrich!

It's absurdist, domestic, has a cute kid and Doritos magic, with a terrific ending where a white dad is the butt of the joke. Fits the finalist pattern. But you know which one I WISH would be here instead?...

*Sorry Karl
I probably love it too much for it to make the top five, but a feminist can dream.Written by and starring snarky women who finally get their own fantasy instead of being the objects of desire. It would be a huge departure for the brand, which hasn't gone in for big sets and fantasy numbers before, let alone female leads owning their sexuality for their own pleasure. I fear they threw women a bone with this entry so they could bone us below with a bunch of misogynist semi-finalists.  

Utterly original and buzzworthy, with a perfect funny ending that sells the chips.

2. Mants!
Wonderfully odd and arresting domestic humor. But Tori Spelling and the Gay Hoarder filmmakers may have a lawsuit.

I predicted it before and I'll say it again: here's your 2014 winner! Fresh, funny, clean middle American humor at the expense of a white man. That's the Doritos brand.

The remaining 19 entries:

With an abysmal rating of 1 out of 5, this loser has three features that break the Doritos finalist mould: women in bikinis, sexualized women passed over for Doritos, and an exploitation ending straight out of a WWE match. I'm shocked Doritos picked this one, except look at the next loser:

This one makes me feel livid! As you know from my previous analysis, only one finalist has featured a death in the storyline. This is sexual attraction with the joke being instead he murders her, and then displays the female corpse over the fireplace. Shame on you Doritos!!! Completely beneath you, and not funny given three American women a day are killed by their lovers. Not a joking matter, and this ad should be disqualified IMMEDIATELY. If this is what your brand is now, then you deserve to be boycotted!

It looks great, is a well executed story with a beginning, middle, end, and a solid joke at the end. I predicted it for the top 20. But I don't love it. It's not funny or odd enough to be the Doritos brand.

When someone explains to the Doritos Judges what a glory hole is, heads are going to roll. They've never even featured PG-13 humor, let alone this offensive XXX commercial. Enjoy the top 20 and the million hits; you should never have made it this far on a filthy visual joke people can't let their kids see during halftime.

Not an idea we haven't seen before, and the ending drifts off.

Pretty cool. Out of the twenty-six past finalists, there weren't any that felt this cinematic. Content/story is king, and this one relies a lot on cool shots and lenses instead of nailing the third act. The ending burns out without a great joke, but the idea is arresting and well executed until then. If it makes it into the finalists it would become the third finalist to star an older actor.

Hey, I was right about Cowboy Kid getting semi-finalist status! I still think it's a well-executed concept with a weak/weird ending. Why is the mom cheering?

What a shame that the last line trails off to an implied swear word. They had a real shot here if they'd just written a great ending joke.

This one is bizarre. But I don't know if people really want to see a grandma getting kissed during the Super Bowl.

Male nudity as a joke is a frequent American subject, but it's never been finalist-worthy before. I don't think Bold Moves will be the exception.

As much as I would love to see us finally get a second finalist starring no white actors, and the first commercial to star Latinos, this one feels like an underdog. But boy do I root for an underdog...

Every year there are dozens upon dozens of entries where the joke is that men choose Doritos over a beautiful woman who is crushed and hurt by the decision. Doubt the Asian feel and acrobatics is enough to propel this mean one into the top five, though it would finally be our second Asian lead actor.

A little shocked this one made it in, as that sure looks like simulated sex grinding to me. The past twenty-six finalists have never even featured a kiss. Again, the woman is discarded in favor of the Doritos. I don't see this one happening. That joke trope has always been tired and beneath the Doritos brand.

This one is nice and bizarre, with some cool wish fulfillment. But I wish the ending was stronger and had a joke. Also, the editing is more fancy than any past finalist. Doritos likes their storytelling nice and simple, with the illusion any consumer could have made it.

I have no idea how this one made it in. Nothing like any past finalist, and the beeped "fuck" gives it slim to no chance of making the top five. Never had a finalist with even a hint of mouthed swearing, let alone an actual bleep.

Cute but not fresh or funny enough. Always happy to see another non-white lead actor. Is it the only semi-finalist that chose rap music?

*Amish Paradise
There are always dozens of hateful entries every year about trading in your female significant other for a younger hotter model. This is the first time that story trope has been rewarded by Doritos, and it's another huge disappointment. Add on to it they're slagging a noble religion based on values that don't include objectifying women, and the "Amish! They're sexist just like us!" premise becomes even more offensive and unfunny.

The big question:

Is Doritos consciously changing their brand to be like all the other Super Bowl ads? That makes no sense, since they always won the Nielson and Ad Meter ratings, and stood out precisely because they were different?!


David West said...

Good analysis! The sci-fi one is my least favorite by a long shot, and I'm pegging the time travel one as a winner. Just FYI, though, they ACTUALLY picked 24 this year. The ostrich one you liked DID get selected.

BTW, if you're interested here is my entry:

Elisabeth Fies said...

Thanks so much David! I appreciate your comment and the heads up, and have updated the post. Missed the extra four in the middle of the night!

Elisabeth Fies said...

Good entry David! Looks terrific and has the requisite beginning middle end. But the tone: reflective, poignant, and sweet...not Doritos' brand. Nice short film, though.

Here's my analysis of what Doritos chooses and why:

David West said...

Yeah, I knew I was gambling by trying to make a more serious commercial.

I got the idea when I first downloaded the asset pack and started listening to the various songs they included. I thought that they all seemed oddly sentimental and not particularly suited to comedy. Since "God Made a Farmer" and the sentimental clydsdale ads were so popular last year, I wondered if maybe Doritos would want something a little more thoughtful. Plus, the post-apocalyptic genre is very popular right now.

Interestingly, VERY few of the semi-finalists seem to have actually used the provided music. So I don't think my assessment that they're not really suited to comedy is that far off.

David West said...

Yeah, I knew I was gambling by trying to make a more serious commercial.

I got the idea when I first downloaded the asset pack and started listening to the various songs they included. I thought that they all seemed oddly sentimental and not particularly suited to comedy. Since "God Made a Farmer" and the sentimental clydsdale ads were so popular last year, I wondered if maybe Doritos would want something a little more thoughtful. Plus, the post-apocalyptic genre is very popular right now.

Interestingly, VERY few of the semi-finalists seem to have actually used the provided music. So I don't think my assessment that they're not really suited to comedy is that far off.

Elisabeth Fies said...

Great points and it was a worthy subject matter to gamble and take a risk on. I also wondered if the Clydesdale ad would influence this year's Super Bowl picks, but Doritos has stuck to its brand of choosing wacky and funny. The only significant pattern difference I've assessed is that their humor has switched to being mean-spirited towards objectified female character. That is a Super Bowl commercial staple, but NOT the Doritos Super Bowl staple. I sincerely wish they'd chosen your well-executed non-demoniational soulful story over any of the five mean-spirited ones. Even though it's just the semi-finalists, I think giving that negativity more energy is a huge misfire that will result in a proliferation of the same entires next year.

John Schroter said...

Although I edit for a living, I don't think Kickball Cowboy's editing was THAT fancy ;) I'm glad you liked it, though. We're really happy with how it turned out. It could use a good joke at the end, I suppose, but the cowboy's face in the last shot cracks me up! Time Machine is one of my favorites, too. Thanks for the review!

Elisabeth Fies said...

Hi John! Thanks for stopping by, and congrats! Re: "fancy"... I think you might have missed my posting that analyzed all twenty-six finalists since 2007. If "Kickball Cowboy" makes finalist status this year you'll be the first since 2007's "Live the Flavor" that used stylized editing. I'm sure you do more artistic edits every day, but for the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl brand, a split screen is indeed fancy. Keep in mind this is a commercial for 110 million Americans at half-time, and they want viewers to think it might have been made by their neighbor Sally who never picked up a camera before she heard about the contest a week before the entry was due.

Historically for the finalists, Doritos picks the straight forward great stories with a joke at the end. Every once in a while they pick one with slo-mo/fast speed or a quick obvious After Effects shot as in "Sling Baby". But the numbers from past years show Doritos execs believe(d?) the Crash the Super Bowl Doritos brand is simple, funny, relatable yet absurd commercials set in an office or home environment that maintain the illusion an amateur made them.

You're welcome, and good luck! Let me know if you want to do an interview about your experiences making "Kickball Cowboy" and being a semi-finalist.

Joritos said...

Hi Elisabeth,

Would love your constructive criticism/feedback on my entries:

Thanks….and glad I found your blog. :)

Elisabeth Fies said...

Hi Joritos, good job!

If I'm remembering correctly there's only been one past semifinalist who had a cat, and then an entry where it was implied a cat was murdered. so that might have made it less appealing to the judges. I believe the lewd hip gyrating would have kept you from making the top 5. The might have been a little too mean spirited. They like cartoon violence. Throwing a football at a man's nards on purpose as the main plot and joke might be a little too real and on the nose. The judges often like cartoony physical violence as a direct result of the main character's questionable actions.

You can test your story next time by making a logline and telling it to some friends and seeing if anyone laughs. I think there needed to be a more of a story and big joke. It felt thin like the takes were too long as we waited for you to get to the joke. More material or more shots (sprinkle in some closeups of the product, characters) would have made it feel fuller. Or having one more story element like instead of having both guys staring at the woman, show a way they competed for her first and the kid lost because the "adult" did something that makes him seem like he has a character flaw and deserves punishment. Then there's more conflict and he doesn't seem like a little punk who should get spanked. Doritos likes their spot amped up and buzz-worthy; this felt smaller and more sedate, like something that could actually happen, without that added Doritos zaniness.

You did some great stuff like setting it in the park, casting the type of characters they like, and having a relatable situation. But then Doritos like you to add one more element or story twist to make it our world heightened.

I think the video production quality looked nice. To compete with the big dogs it might have helped to have some color correcting, which some editing programs have inside and can be fairly simple if you watch a Youtube tutorial.

That's it! You had a beginning, middle, and end, which a surprising amount of filmmakers never do...Next time have a more surprising story in the middle so we aren't waiting as long for the punchline to happen.