Super Bowl Ad Contest -- Have You Played?

Like all the previous Super Bowls, next week's showdown in Miami will feature padded, tough linemen, a halftime extravaganza and millions of television viewers cheering for the teams lucky or smart enough to make it to the NFL's biggest day.

But there is one big change this year -- a change as revolutionary as one of the coaches showing up on the sidelines in full, superfan body paint.

This year people just like you will be taking control of the ads.

That's right, average Joes and Janes are dreaming up the concepts and even shooting and editing the $2.5 million, 30-second spots that make the Super Bowl the biggest television ad event of the year. And they'll be doing it for big brands that everyone knows -- companies like Doritos, GM and even the NFL itself.

All three companies ran contests inviting regular viewers to film their own Super Bowl commercials. For the contestants, it's a chance to show their stuff on the most watched TV event of the year.

Meanwhile, the corporate giants are banking that the YouTube revolution that led "You" to be named Time's Person of the Year will translate into success on the ad industry's biggest stage.

Meet the Maker

Jared Cicon is a self-described chubby white guy who has made his living for the last 18 years as a wedding photographer in Claremont, Calif.

After picking up a high-end video camera for a steal -- some Hollywood type had hocked the rig at a pawn shop -- Cicon was tooling around, looking for a way to learn how to shoot and edit video.

"It was a really intensive learning curve," said Cicon. "The manuals, if you lay them on top of each other, they're about a foot high. I read as much as I could, but my mind was just spinning. So I said, you know what, I'll be reactive. When I'm out there shooting and come across a problem, I'll try to find an answer."

It wasn't long before Cicon was loading up the minivan and heading out with his four kids for a vacation in Death Valley. He took the camera, but he wasn't shooting for your run-of-the-mill home movie.

He grabbed a Lay's Potato Chips bag up from the floorboard and shot what he calls a "spec" commercial, starring his kids as they toured one of the hottest places on the planet.

"I tried to get [Lays] to listen to it, or see it, so I called New York and Dallas," said Cicon. "I even sent them multiple copies, but they wouldn't even look at it because they had a big-name ad firm working for them."

Just before the amateur ad-man gave up, a Frito Lay employee called him and told him not to lose hope.

"She goes, 'you know, Jared, there's a contest from our sister company Doritos that's going to be coming out in a week, and I think this is right up your alley.' Sure enough, a week later Doritos announced its Super Bowl ad contest and I got right to work."

Cicon churned out nine ads for Doritos 'Crash the Super Bowl' ad contest in the next few months.

He learned how to use his camera -- "I'm pretty much a pro now," he said -- and landed himself in the contest's Top five.

As a reward for making the final, he's already won $10,000 and a trip to Miami for the big game. He won't find out if his 30-second spot, called "Chip Lover's Dream," is the winner until it's seen by 90 million people on Super Bowl Sunday's live telecast.

If he does win, Cicon's pawn-shop camera and creative drive might just land him a new career in the ad business -- a YouTube career turn that just a few years ago was unthinkable.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...