Super Bowl ad ‘Middle Seat’ tickles viewers, wins producer $1 million

L.A. producer Scott Zabielski is still shocked he won the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest Sunday, landing a $1-million prize and a “dream job” at Universal Pictures.

“It doesn’t even feel real. It was just cool enough to see the spot air during the Super Bowl,” the 35-year-old Burbank resident said. “When I saw the spot air, my phone started blowing up. I had about 100 texts and just as many emails.”

An executive producer on Comedy Central’s “Tosh.O,” Zabielski created the “Middle Seat” commercial in a little more than a week for $2,000, according to Frito-Lay.

The 30-second ad features an airline passenger sitting in an aisle seat, determined to keep the middle seat next to him empty. The man clips his toenails, blows his nose and flosses, among other uncomfortable things, to deter other passengers -- until an attractive woman boards the plane, that is.

He catches her attention with a bag of Doritos, only to realize she’s with her baby, played by Zabielski’s son.


Ram Krishnan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America, called the commercial “creative, bold and original.”

“Rising to the top among nearly 4,900 competitors from all over the world is no easy feat,” he said in statement. “If the success of our past winners is any indication, Scott’s career is about to take off in the most amazing way, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Zabielski said the ad hits close to home because, at more than 6 feet tall, he often hopes people won’t sit next to him so he can have extra legroom.

“My favorite kind of comedy is the sort of comedy where you can look at it and say, ‘That’s funny because it’s true,’ ” the USC graduate said. “If you’ve flown, you have probably been in that situation ... thinking, ‘I hope they do not sit here next to me.’ ”

Zabielski’s ad was chosen as the top commercial by voters; Doritos selected the runner-up, “When Pigs Fly.” The eight finalists whose commercials didn’t air during the Super Bowl broadcast each won $25,000.

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