Did Doritos’ rookies win the Super Bowl commercial derby?


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Who won Super Bowl XLIII?

No, not the game on the field. The really important game that is about winning consumers’ hearts, minds and pocketbooks. The one that prompted advertisers to shell out $3 million (on average) for a 30-second spot during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast on NBC.

According to USAToday’s 21st annual Ad Meter exercise, two unemployed brothers from Batesville, Ind., upended such traditional Super Bowl advertising favorites as Anheuser Busch, which had won the past 10 Ad Meter Super Bowl contests.


The commercial’s creators not only won boasting rights to having bested Madison Avenue’s best and brightest, they also earned $1 million in the Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ contest.

Here’s how USAToday’s Bruce Horovitz summed up the rookie upset:

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.

Doritos also was the first-half winner in the Tivo ‘StopWatch’ contest, which tracks how many Tivo customers used their digital video recorders to go back in time to watch commercials and plays. The spot finished well behind the full-game StopWatch winner,’s ‘enhanced’ commercial, which ran in the second half -- but earned more Tivo flashbacks than Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s 100-yard dash for the end zone.

Doritos finished in a tie for second behind the ‘need a new job?’ spot in Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Super Bowl survey. The survey had Doritos tied with other ‘A grade’ commercials from, E-Trade and Denny’s.

Sunday’s commercial breaks ‘featured hard-hitting advertising,’ said Tim Calkins, a Kellogg marketing professor. ‘We had spots with value messages and competitive claims, both of which are unusual in the Super Bowl.’

‘Super Bowl advertisers were clearly trying to drive sales in a soft economy,’ Calkins said. ‘The game continues to be the single biggest marketing event in the United States, but this year we saw the impact of the weak economy.’


If you missed the spots -- or want to watch them again -- has them online.

-- Greg Johnson