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Doritos, Animal Planet, and How Super Bowl Marketing Became Authentic

By now, most of us are aware of the annual tradition that is the Doritos #CrashTheSuperBowl campaign. Coming up on its 10th and final season this year, the campaign has largely been met with an outpouring of support and regarded as authentic marketing from consumers, press, and industry folks over the decade-long run. However, this week I read a counter opinion on The Verge, from author Chris Plante, entitled “Doritos and the Decade-Long Scam for Free Super Bowl Commercials.” Of course, the headline made me perk up, and he makes some compelling arguments that tell a broader story about the trajectory of Super Bowl marketing.

If you’re unfamiliar, here is the basic gist of the contest:

  • Doritos solicits amateur film-makers to create their super bowl commercial using the hashtag #CrashTheSuperBowl
  • The winner is used and aired during the big game, flown in to celebrate in the city where the game is being played, and given a monetary prize
  • This year, being the final chapter, the grand prize is $1,000,000, though it has been significantly less in previous years

In his piece, Plante argues that while the campaign started from a good place, over the past couple of years, industry pros have had an unfair advantage. Last year, for example, the winner was an executive producer on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0.

While I’d agree that as the profile of the contest has grown, industry vets with higher budgets, resources, and connections have gained a leg up on competition, I’d stop short of criticizing Doritos for the effort. In an era where brand authenticity and consumer engagement is paramount, the brand concepted a way to activate their loyal consumers well before many other brands were willing to do so. Sure, in year 10, the campaign has likely lost its luster, and become more of a concealed brand-owned tactic, but Doritos should be commended for the initial effort to embrace authenticity and believe in the power of the loyal consumer to create meaningful content. Now, the challenge will be how it can shift into a new focus and renew the aura of authenticity that has dissipated over the past few years.

Check out Chris Plante’s full article here and craft your own opinion.

Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl

While we’re on the topic of engaging Super Bowl campaigns, I’d also like to discuss one of the most effective activations around the campaign, which has also been going for over a decade. Of course, I’m talking about Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. There are three reasons I love this campaign:

  • It focuses on something that people universally LOVE: Puppies
  • It creatively works around the massive expenditure of the big game by operating next to it instead of within it
  • It aligns with a philanthropic cause, promoting the adoption of animals, and staying on brand in the process

All of these components make for an especially effective and authentic campaign for Animal Planet, and inspire conversation outside of the “game” itself for an extended period of time.

At Olapic, we’ve bought into the hype, and are fielding our own team to compete in the #PuppyBowl. Check out our starting squad.

Enjoy the game(s) on Sunday.

Image Source: Unsplash.com / By: Marcos Moraes

Puppy Images courtesy of Olapic team members!

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