Lessons from Ten Years of Crash The Super Bowl

Most of you have heard by now that we’ve decided this will be the final year for the Doritos® Crash the Super Bowl promotion (CTSB), marking the end of a decade of unprecedented industry recognition and success. For those unaware, CTSB provides consumers with the opportunity to create a Doritos® ad that might air during the Super Bowl, and is credited as being one of the first catalysts of the consumer-generated content phenomenon back in 2007. Like many marketing programs of significance, the story of CTSB -- from “almost didn’t happen” to celebrating its 10th anniversary -- is filled with interesting twists and turns, as well as valuable lessons that are worth sharing here.

Fight for Great Ideas

CTSB was created by our promotional agency, The Marketing Arm (TMA), and originally presented to the Doritos® brand team and PR executives in 2006. The initial reaction by the marketing leadership team was negative. They were primarily concerned that consumers would not be able to deliver creative that would be worthy of airing during the Super Bowl, by far the nation’s most important advertising platform. After considerable deliberation and debate, the brand team and TMA brought back the idea for consideration, and fortunately, it was approved.  

Don’t Play It Safe   
When Doritos® and TMA presented CTSB to the NFL for the first time, we learned that several other Super Bowl advertisers were planning to air consumer-generated ads. However, in each of these cases, the advertiser played it safe by limiting the role of the consumer and hedging their bets by having the ads filmed and produced by a traditional advertising agency. Doritos, on the other hand, gave its consumers complete control over creative and production. By handing over that trust to consumers to deliver outstanding ads, CTSB was widely recognized for transforming the marketing landscape. CTSB was the first program to truly empower consumers in a way that was authentic and meaningful.  

Stay True to Yourself

After the extraordinary success of the first CTSB program in 2007, which included a spot called “Live the Flavor” that finished 4th in the USA Today Ad Meter, the brand team decided to change the programming focus. In 2008, we asked consumers to create a music video instead of a commercial. While we are proud the music video that aired helped launch the music career of a very talented artist, it did not play as effectively as a brand advertisement aimed at generating brand equity.  Fortunately, Doritos also aired a consumer spot called “Mouse Trap,” created the previous year, that ranked 4th in the Ad Meter, which saved CTSB from extinction. This was the last time the brand would venture away from the core idea centered on consumer-generated commercials. 

These are just a few of the important lessons we’ve learned from this remarkable program, which has won every major industry award, generated over 32,000 ads for the brand from 31 countries, produced four #1 ads in the USA Today Ad Meter, and awarded more than $7 million to support aspiring filmmakers and passionate fans.