Leader of Doritos ad competition was signed up weeks before the competition began

Doritos invited several of the entries that are leading its home made ads competition to enter long before the contest opened to the public, the agency behind the campaign has admitted.  

As Mumbrella reported yesterday, Doritos last week publicly launched the competition challenging the public to win $20,000 and get their home made ad on TV. It is inspired by the Doritos Crash The Superbowl competition in the US, which has taken place three years running.

The campaign – which had a PR launch eight days ago – is backed by TV ads that started running at the weekend. Most of the finalists will be decided by an expert panel, with a public vote deciding one of the finalists.

Early votes have put an ad called “Holy Doritos” at the top of the rankings. The ad is shot in a church, well lit, and features a cast including a priest and congregation. The priest runs out of communion wafers and uses Doritos instead.

By yesterday afternoon it had accumulated 282 votes, which gave it a narrow lead.

Its high quality led to questions in Mumbrella’s comments section on how it was turned around so fast.

Last night Nic Hodges, creative director of Clemenger BBDO Sydney, posted a response saying: “We organised a run-in promotion over the last couple months before we launched this broader public one. This was a competition targeted specifically at budding filmmakers, with the prize including the screening of their ad at Tropfest last weekend. These entries are still in the running for the main prize, so we kept them up in their original YouTube location.”

Mumbrella has learned that the church ad is the work of 22-year-old Jacqueline Alliss, who runs a casting and production agency in Perth called Jacqueline Alliss Casting. She told Mumbrella that she completed the ad more than a month ago after being recruited via the Internet although she couldn’t remember how she first heard of it. She said: “I was notified that I could enter the competition before the public. I’m doing it to build up my showreel.”

But she insisted that Doritos had not funded the ad, saying most of the equipment was borrowed and the extras were volunteers. She said: “The only thing they gave us were five packs of chips.”

The Doritos competition web site carries within its terms and conditions a statement referring  to “seeding”. It says: “Prior to the competition commencing, the promoter will also run a ‘seeding’ competition and will be inviting selected individuals to take part.” The mention of the seeding is not in the main rules, and in a place that most users would be unlikely to look.

It is unclear how many of the ads that the public are currently voting on are spontaneous entries, and how many were “seeded” in advance.

Some may suggest the situation is similar to Tourism Queensland’s Best Job In The World promotion where one of the early entries, a video of a girl getting a tattoo to win, was covered by media around the world. It quickly emerged that it had been created by the agency which said it had done so to inspire other entries. The revelation led to a row with Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser taking “a dim view” of the incident.

However, agencies face practical problems of how to fill user generated sites with new content when a promotion first launches and Doritos’ strategy – which would have been conceived before the tattoo video row – is clearly an attempt to solve that problem without actually faking videos.

This morning Doritos issued a statement to Mumbrella saying: “We invited a number of people to enter the competition early so that consumers would be inspired to get creative and get involved, rather than creating examples ourselves. These early entries were created by ordinary people that have eligibly entered the competition. Every single entry that meets the criteria will be judged on its popularity, originality and creativity so the competition is a level playing field.”


  1. Oscar the Grouch
    26 Feb 09
    10:11 am

  2. it’s a common problem and it will get worse.

    these ideas are great in theory but there are issues with generating the momentum required in a market of this size in practice.

  3. Stan Lee
    26 Feb 09
    10:22 am

  4. Hey Ben, good to see you’ve adopted the new moniker.

  5. Jav Meyrick
    26 Feb 09
    10:49 am

  6. shifty

  7. Isaac
    26 Feb 09
    10:49 am

  8. Surely these sorts of promotions are a whole lot of expense for minimal gain (or publicity outside of the marketing industry and related fields)?

    Is it really that much better than the alternative of just offering up an inventive, novelty prize worth $20k instead?

  9. Anonymous
    26 Feb 09
    10:55 am

  10. but there’s more agency/creative/production/strategy fees isaac if you create these more complex executions … 😉

  11. Isaac
    26 Feb 09
    12:56 pm

  12. True, maybe I am overestimating the honour of agencies!

    If you wanted to throw away $20k (plus agency fees of how much?) to drive up awareness, why not deliver 1,000 bags to 20 shops around the country and give them away, one per customer. Then let the buzz spread through social media and then MSM?

    Rather than run a campaign for user-generated creative that appeals to a handful of film students only, generates minimal chatter, and still costs to run on TV.

    Have seen people build $20k online games to promote a cause only to have them get all of 50 people visit. For the same money, you could pay for school/community visits to a captive audience.

  13. Ryan Peal
    26 Feb 09
    12:59 pm

  14. Totally feel for BBDO as I’ve been involved with campaigns that needed some examples on content to get people going and excited. Think its a good idea to give people some type of direction/inspiration/etc. Wondering now if maybe the “tropfest” entries should be in a separate category (as it still looks like the YouTube channel only has ones from a few weeks back) with their own $20,000 and then have people maybe who submit video starting last week (after the TropFest period) in the original contest for $20,000. Just a thought.

  15. Mike Crebar
    26 Feb 09
    1:42 pm

  16. Surely an entry received and created before the comp opened would violate Ts&Cs and make it unfair for ‘genuine’ entries?

    No harm in creating a few bits of good content to kick off the comp, but play fair on the punters.

    Samboy has had their comp running few weeks longer, no TV ads, no on pack promo, purely digital on Facebook & Youtube.

    Most votes for am entry to date…65’000, then 55k+ for person coming second.

    Effective? You bet.
    Gotta love chip wars.

  17. Simon T Small
    26 Feb 09
    1:49 pm

  18. Ryan, agree mate, I ran a campaign with a similar issue. The solution is to make fake content, and make it clear that it has no chance of winning but is an example. People will still get involved.

    Or even better, if there’s no content up there when it’s launched there’s more incentive for people to post their submissions, more chance of winning. Duh.

  19. Andre
    26 Feb 09
    2:38 pm

  20. Isaac, give away a free bag of chips and wait for the buzz?


  21. Brooke
    26 Feb 09
    2:57 pm

  22. These guys: http://www.thesoup.com.au/ were sending out chips to their members late last year encouraging them to enter the comp.

  23. Anonymous
    26 Feb 09
    10:53 pm

  24. This is actually illigal behaviour. They will get fined and/or have to apologise. The ad is pretty average.

  25. Mumbrella
    27 Feb 09
    6:24 am

  26. Hi Anon,
    I’d be very surprised if it is illegal behaviour. As I mentioned, they did cover it in the Ts & Cs.
    Tim – Mumbrella

  27. eightysix
    27 Feb 09
    8:51 am

  28. That ad was totally lame anyway.

  29. Guy Munro
    27 Feb 09
    12:48 pm

  30. Agreed Tim.

    However, from “quickly” reading the T&C’s, it could be construed a bit misleading from a consumer’s perspective, as “…the promotion commences 01/02/09…”

    I’m not a lawyer though, so… :-)

    Either way, still a novel way to get UGC.


  31. Isaac
    1 Mar 09
    6:39 pm

  32. Andre, this is not my field – I’m just an interested bystander trying to find out why this sort of path is taken over other alternatives. Were I to get a free bag of chips, I’d tell people about it. I see a ‘make our TV ad’ campaign, and I think “lame crowdsourcing”. You or someone else might be able to share why one is more effective than the other? Or whether there might be a better option than either?

  33. competitions
    5 Mar 09
    7:57 am

  34. Any breach of a competitions terms and conditions can be reported to the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing as most competitions require a permit if the competition is available in NSW.

    The contacts for that is on this page: http://www.olgr.nsw.gov.au/promos_trade_promos.asp

  35. Craig
    27 Mar 09
    2:58 pm

  36. I whipped up a couple of entries on the Mac, no cast just a sharp learning curve in iMovie and Animation software. I prefer the entry Doritos Spectacular to the Doritos Cheese Surprise, though the Flying Cheese is quite cute and the references to classic animation I think are effective.
    ‘Seeding’ the competition with preliminary entries could have been done in a way which didn’t appear biased to some preselected groups.
    ‘Holy Doritos’ seems awfully familiar. Wasn’t there an English ad in the 70s that was exactly the same, but perhaps with chocolates, or biscuits? Is plagiarism allowed in advertising?
    The only other issue is the voting system. With some really crumby ads receiving over 12000 votes, I wonder if the voting system has been hacked or compromised?
    Previously people have been using non-existent email addresses for voting – you can see this in the list of prize winners.
    Now a confirmation email arrives and you have to click the link to enter the vote. This is hardly fair to recent entries, when previously the voting was a free-for-all.


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