Posts Tagged ‘Doritos’

 “In high school I’d get out of doing papers by asking if I could do videos instead. I was one of those weird kids in high school who figured out that I wanted to make videos for the rest of my life.”
Kevin T. Willson
Director of Sling Baby
USA Today 

The Sling Baby now has a new name—Million Dollar Baby.*

Yesterday, Sling Baby beat out 54 other Super Bowl commercials to be the winner in the USA Today/Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter.  Which means director Kevin T. Willson gets a nice little million dollar bonus. It also mean a clean sweep for Doritos as its other Super Bowl Ad, Man’s Best Friend, won the panelist Best Ad on Sunday. Think about that for a second….two consumer-created spots beating all the giants of advertising in the biggest game of the year.

Sure the big game was one by the New York Giants, but the great upset was scored by Doritos. To have two different films win in two different polls is amazing. The fact that they were both consumer-created is off the charts. It gives real meaning to the whole Crash the Super Bowl contest.

Of course, the big winner is Kevin Willson. Big as in one million dollars. That’s his bonus for Sling Baby landing in the top spot. On Sunday’s poll he came in fourth which meant he just missed out on the third place $400,000 bonus. That had to be frustrating to get that close. But he made up for in a couple of days later in the fan poll (aided by a nice social marketing push) and now he has a greater platform to make the features he wants to produce. Heck, if he does them Edward Burns-style, he could be making films for the next decade.

Congrats to Willson and his fellow Slingers.

But one thing to realize with Willson is just because Sling Baby was part of what’s called a consumer-created ad that doesn’t mean his win was a fluke. If you visit his Compass Films website you’ll see that he’s been at this a few years—actually, since his elementary school days in Southern California:

“After graduating from Biola University he taught Special Education for years. He left teaching to purse his dream of filmmaking and directing and directed numerous documentaries for humanitarian organizations; including Aces of Love, Habitat for Humanity, and Free Wheelchair Mission, where his film took 1st place and received a standing ovation at The White House. Kevin has filmed in 14 different countries including Peru, Cambodia, and Afghanistan.”

And this year was actually the third time he’s been a top five finalist in the Crash the Super Bowl Contest. So I don’t know if Willson has put in his 10,000 hours , but he definitely knows what he’s doing. And since he’s 34-years old, I’m estimating that he’s been at this for 20 years.

Though Willson lives in Los Angeles, he’s exactly the kind of person I write this blog for and love featuring. The full title of this blog is Screenwriitng from Iowa…and Other Unlikley Places, and I’ve often said that that unlikely place could very well be West Covina (in California) as well as West Des Moines.  La Mirada, where Willson went to school, is 15 miles south of West Covina.

Best wishes Kevin T. Willson on your filmmaking journey.

*Sling Baby’s title riffs on the movie Sling Blade (for which Billy Bob Thorton won an Oscar for his script) and Million Dollar Baby was the four-time Oscar-winner directed by Clint Eastwood.

Scott W. Smith

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“You don’t have to be a professional filmmaker or a professional ad agency to compete with the best (ad makers) in the world and take home the biggest prize (a top spot on AdMeter.)”
Tony Matta, Vice-President. Marketing, Frito-Lay North America

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Loyd would have enjoyed the three commercials vying for the #1 spot in the 2012 USA Today Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter. Lots of physical comedy. As I write this the Monday after the Super Bowl, the commercials Doritos: Man’s Best Friend,  Doritos: Sling Baby, and Bud Light Weego are all in a dead heat for the top spot and a million dollars.

But in the spirit of Chaplin’s character The Little Tramp, I’ll focus on the two Doritos spots that were consumer created on spec and submitted in the Crash the Super Bowl contest Doritos has done the last several years.

“I work out of my garage and my passion is to direct meaningful stories through films that inspires and bring people laughter. My dream is to direct mainstream comedy commercials and family friendly movies.”
Kevin T. Willson
Director of Sling Baby 

According to Willson’s  Compass Films website Sling Baby is actually his third time in a row being a Top Five Finalist in Crash The Super Bowl. The amazing thing about that is the contest usually averages around 6,000 commercials submitted. So he’s beaten the odds not only once, but three times. You may recall his Casket spot two years ago where a man is buried in a casket full of Doritos.

I aways enjoy finding loose connections, and I just learned yesterday that a writer friend I’ve known for more than fifteen years, Clare Sera, was part of Willson Idea Team. Clare was kind enough to read a feature script I wrote last year and give me some helpful notes. She’s also an actress and used to be part of the Orlando Improv group SAK Theater. I’m pulling for Sling Baby because at the end of the day the other two spots—while funny—are a little mean-spirited (what would the Save the Cat people think?), while Sling Baby fights mean-spiritedness. (Plus if someone takes the time to read a script of mine and give me notes for free, why wouldn’t I pull for their team?)

Clare is just one of the more than 50 talented people Willson brought together for Sling Baby. The entire crew is listed on the impressive website campaign they’ve put together— Vote for Sling Baby! 

 “I am a freelance graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer, and musician from Virginia Beach, VA…I shot the commercial for about $20 using a Canon 7D (which I already own). I had to buy some Doritos, a few props, and some dog treats. I originally thought the commercial would only cost $13 to produce, so I went way over budget. The most difficult part about the production was getting “Huff the Great Dane” to cooperate.
Jon Friedman
Director of Man’s Best Friend
Video contest news

I’m pulling for Friedman too, because I love seeing a guy in Virginia spend $20 on a commercial and having it beat out spots that cost millions of dollars to produce. Friedman’s company is Frame 25 Productions.

If Sling Baby and Man’s Best Friend can both hold on to one of the top three spots they will both get a sizable payout.

Update: Friedman was awarded the top spot in USA Today panel and won the $1 million prize. (A nice return on his $20. investment.) The USA Today/Facebook Ad Meter poll continues until tomorrow, still giving Sling Baby a chance at a payout.

Update: Another reason to pull for Sling Baby—One of the writers of the spot, Sean Gaffney, is a reader of this blog (and has commented in the comment section).  At this moment 5:55 CST, Sling Baby is in the lead slot with a 4.34 rating just .04 ahead of Weego and Man’s Best Friend. The USA Today/Facebook poll closes on Tuesday, 6pm EST.

Here’s the money breakdown if Sling Baby finishes in the top three slots:

BTW—Great game. Congrats to the New York Giants on the win. And just to close on an inspirational fitness note, if you want a body like David Beckham’s, avoid the Doritos and Bud Light.

Related post: Harold Loyd Vs. Buster Keaton (Super Bowl Special)

Scott W. Smith

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“It’s really a huge opportunity for our career— which we’ve been struggling with for a long time. I’ve been dreaming of this my whole life.”
JR Burningham
Utah native interviewed before his Doritos Super Bowl spot won $1 million

You know, I’m all about the little dogs doing big things, and the Dortitos commercial that aired during the Super Bowl last night not only featured a pug—but was a total underdog itself. The spot was directed by JR Burningham for $500. and ended up earning him $1 million in a Doritos/PepsiCo competition in which more than 5,000 commercials were submitted.

Burningham’s commercial featured a small pug knocking a door down on top of his master in his quest for Dortios. The spot tied for first on the Super Bowl Rating Meter even beating out the VW Star Wars spot in popularity. And while the 31-year old Burningham has been called in some articles “a part-time web-designer”—there’s a little more to the story.

Burningham is originally from Salt Lake City and after he graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. degree in computer engineering & computer science, he went on to get an MFA in film production at USC in 2008. At USC one of his films received an honorable mention at the Student Emmys and he also met Tess Ortbals who became his partner at Mythmakers after they graduated.

Ortbals, who has an MFA from USC on the producing side, wrote the script Terra Incognita with Burningham which recently finished in the top ten of both the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition and The Script Department’s Silver Screenwriting Competition. Ortbal’s undergraduate work was in ancient storytelling and mythology, and she graduated with a BA in anthropology. Producing a winning commercial wasn’t just blind luck.

Burningham & Ortbals set-up their shop in Burbank, CA and while their dreams are big , so is the debt from their student loans. So it wasn’t beneath them to gather some film school friends together in hopes of creating something that could bring them a little attention.

“This commercial was a last-ditch attempt to make something happen. It’s just a very difficult industry.”
JR Burningham

Mission accomplished.

They rented a Cannon 7D camera package, gathered some film school friends together, and shot  for a day in Ventura. And the rest is history. A history that is beginning to repeat itself. A trend that began a few years ago when major advertising production outsiders began to make inroads in the granddaddy of advertising venues.  In fact, this year 3 of the top 5 rated commercials during this year’s Super Bowl were made from people that represent Main St. more than Madison Ave.

In fact, when I last checked the most  watched ad of all time was the Doritos ad Snack Attack Samurai that ran during last year’s Super Bowl. It was made by a couple filmmakers (Ben Kruger & Cole Koehler) in Minneapolis. (I was fortunate to work with one of the actors in that spot, Mike Rylander, last year on a production I was producing/directing.) Kruger & Koehler spent less than $1,000.  for a :30 spot that was viewed by 116,231,920 people. Big return on investment as they won $25,000.

And don’t forget the two unemployed brothers (Dave and Joe Herbert) of Batesville, Indiana who also won $1 million for their Doritos commercial that was chosen as the best commercial during Super Bowl XLIII.

“As digital media continues to expand, entrepreneurial filmmakers like ourselves must blaze a new model that includes making great movies for less money while expanding distribution avenues. It has to change on both ends. The true masters of the 21 century filmmaking will be those who can be extremely business savvy without compromising the quality of the craft or the meaning of their story.”
JR Burningham

Entrepreneurial filmmakers—that has a nice ring to it.

Congrats JR & Tess, I look forward to seeing your feature films in the not to distant future. (And I read where they just got engaged.) And congrats to the team just east of Iowa, the Green Bay Packers, for the big Super Bowl win.

And just for fun here’s a Doritos spot that I did last year as a one man crew (producer/director/writer/cameraman/editor)  for the total cost of less than $8 (two bags of Doritos). It didn’t win anything, but it was a nice experiment. (Best to double click on it as WordPress frames it kind of funky.)

February 9, 2011 Update: The spot I made with spray paint artist Paco Rosic fit my creative temperament, but doesn’t quite fit the commercials that usually win the Super Bowl challenge. Those usually have to do with pain, hulliliation. (Using sophomoric humor is a plus if you want to rise to the top.)   “The thing about the Crash The Super Bowl contest is that you’re not playing to ‘your’ audience. Meaning, this commercial isn’t about what you necessarily think is funny or what the people you show your work to thinks is funny. Quite simply, it’s about what is formulaic AND funny AND plays to the widest demographic of people.” Ben Krueger  (who along with Cole Koehler, won $25,000. for their Doritos spot in 2010).

Febraury 10. 2011 Update: The Chevy Camero ad during the 2011 Super Bowl became the most watched ad according to Nielsen Co. beating the 2010 Doritos with 119.6 million viewers.

Scott W. Smith

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“The National Football League’s Super Bowl is not just the crowning glory of American Football. It is the Super Bowl of Advertising , the most watched, most anticipated, most expensive, most influential arena for major-television advertising.”
Bernice Kanner
The Super Bowl of Advertising

It’s estimated that 100 million people will be watching the Super Bowl this year. Of course, there’s a lot more going on than just football. In fact, you don’t even have to be a football fan to get caught-up in all the activities. Some churches even build their Sunday evenings around the big game by using their large screen projectors to show the game. Can stained-glass John Elway and Jerry Rice be far behind? (I’m afraid to Google that one.) Perhaps the culture war is over.

For the last couple years Doritos has sponsored a competition where anyone can submit a commercial with the winning ad playing during the Super Bowl. Since ads during that time usually cost around $3 million per thirty-second slot it was a bold move. But last years’ ad actually was rated higher by viewers and critics than many of the expensively produced high quality commercials. It’s one more link in the chain that is an indication of the direction that media is heading.

This year a freelance edited I use and his buddy wanted to compete in the Doritos ad so we spent a little time talking through ideas and I helped them flesh out a concept. A couple days later they shot and edited the spot and I was so inspired that I decided a day before the deadline to do one myself. I called a friend of my, spray paint artist Paco Rosic, and told him my idea and we shot it in two hours and it took me about two hours to edit. I was the entire crew and Paco’s girlfriend, Amy Anderson, was the additional talent.

Since I had little time (four hours) or money (under $10 for two bags of chips) invested in the little project. I wasn’t too disappointed that of the 4,000 commercials submitted this year that I didn’t make the top five. (Though the $25,000. each of them received, or the million dollar top prize, would have been nice.) But I’ll be watching tonight during the Super Bowl to which Doritos commercial(s) air. And I’ll take great solace in a couple friends who will tell me, “Dude, yours was way better than….”

But it was a good excercise in embracing your limitations and creating something. You never know where these things will lead. (Back in 2006 I produced a short video for Paco’s website and it ended up on the front page of Yahoo! for about an hour with a link to a news show they had back then called The 9 with host Maria Sansone. It landed Paco an appearance on Rachael Ray’s TV  Show.)

Keep in mind what you are about to see is the result of three people working half a day, not a production and advertising team if dozens of people and weeks or months of preparation. Let me know how it stacks up against the big dogs. (Best viewed in the 720p HD version.)

For those interested in the technical aspects, I shot it on a Panasonic HPX 170 P2 camera, 720p mode, Miller tri-pod, and two Arri lights  (a 300 fresnel and one open face 1K with a Chimera small softbox. Editing was done on Apple Final Cut Pro.

Scott W. Smith

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“It’s unbelievable we’ve been able to do something so big, so fast.”
Joe  Herber
Million dollar Doritos commercial winner in 2009

A lot has happened in the last 20 hours. Yesterday the world celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. Where were you in 1989? Do you even recognize the world from 20 years ago? Even if you were five at the time you have to be amazed at the tremendous about of change in the world in the last two decades.

Sure we still have problems in the Middle East and with illegal drugs (heck, legal drugs) but 20 years ago there was no You Tube, no Facebook, no blogging, no Netflix, no Guitar Hero, and most people didn’t have cell phones, cable modems, and laptop computers. (If you haven’t seen Louis CK talking about “Everything’s amazing right now, and nobody’s happy” it’s worth a view.)

Several years ago I went to Berlin for a shoot and it was a magical time to drive around and take in the city. We stayed in a old hotel on the former East Berlin side and I wondered what it would have been like to have lived through communism all those years and then to experience that day when the world changed.

And since I like to point out big things coming from small places who would have thought that someone born in an apartment in Tampico, Illinos, raised in Dixon, Illinos, and got  his broadcasting career started Davenport, Iowa would have a role in the Berlin Wall coming down? But that was the route that Ronald Reagan took before becoming an actor in Hollywood and then later the President of the United States where he uttered one of the most famous presidential lines ever, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall.”

I’m not sure was Joe Cada was born yet when Reagan uttered those words, but the 21-year-old just a few hours ago became the youngest player to win the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.  As the AP reported he, “chose cards over college” and the youngster from Michigan won $8.55 million.

Part of what made that possible is the technology that I wrote about last year in a post called Screenwriting Las Vegas Style where Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker mostly just learning how to play online.  Cada is said to sometimes plays online in up to a dozen tournaments at the same time.

Around the same time Cada was earning his millions thousands of other hopeful creatives were attempting to win millions in this year’s Doritos Crash the Super Bowl challenge where anyone can submit a commercial in hopes of having their spot air  during the Super Bowl and have a chance at $5 million in prizes.

Last year the winners were brothers Dave & Joe Herbert, aspiring filmmakers from Batesville, Indiana, who made a commercial for less than $2,000 that rated more popular  in consumer ratings than all the big budget productions. They also won $1 million. Last night at midnight was the cut off to submit  videos and I produced one and gave another idea to some college kids who produced another one. We’ll see what happens.

All that to say it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Dixon, Illinos, Batesville, Indiana, Davenport, Iowa, Michigan or a small village in Germany there are opportunities out there for you to create some things that have an impact on the world stage. But it doesn’t hurt to first try them out at your local theater.

Scott W. Smith

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