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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.”

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