Tuesday, January 5, 2010

can average Joe's make kick ass Super Bowl commercials?

Doritos is at it again. For this year's Super Bowl television festivities, Doritos is hosting another contest with the best fan-produced spots airing during the big game. This concept of letting "non-Madison Avenue" types create the coveted Super Bowl spots seemed cutting edge a few years ago, now it smells just a little gimmicky.

Gimick or not, they are handing out real money to the winners (last year's duo got a cool million and launched TV careers). This year they're giving away up to $5 million with $1 milllion bonus for spots that take the top spots in USA TODAY’S consumer driven Super Bowl Ad Meter. The question is, should we professional advertising folks feel threatened by the success of these average Joes?

According to a USA Today article that ran after last year's Super Bowl we should:
"It wasn't just the Arizona Cardinals who met their match in the Super Bowl — so did Madison Avenue. And it could be a game-changer. For the first time, it wasn't an ad agency that created the best-liked Super Bowl commercial. It was two unemployed brothers from Batesville, Ind., whose ad for Doritos — created for an online contest for amateurs — won them $1 million from Doritos maker Frito-Lay, and leaves ad pros with a lot of 'splaining to do."

Well, I for one am not shaking in my slippers quite yet. First of all, I just watched all the Doritos finalists spots and they're just not that great. (The one with the little kid threatening his mom's boyfriend was kind of cute). When I see really good advertising, whether print or TV or online, I feel it in my gut. A pang of "I wish I had done that," or "I wish I had a client who let me do that," or "I wish I had the budget and the client and the talent to do that." I get jealous. These spots aren't making me jealous.

Second of all, I've done this advertising stuff long enough to understand that good ideas can come from anywhere including from a Pastor in Whittier (one of the Dorito finalists).

Third, you can put lipstick on a pig. I'm not saying any of the Doritos spots are "pigs", but they have been dressed up with good production quality and casting and I'm guessing the pastor didn't shoot the spot himself.

So, this year I will again tune into the Super Bowl with a cursory interest in the game and an acute interest in the commercials. And I hope something I see hits me right in the gut, even if it comes from someone who has never even heard of Madison Avenue.

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