'Two nobodies from nowhere' craft winning Super Bowl ad for Doritos

ByABC News
February 2, 2009, 5:09 PM

— -- It wasn't just the Arizona Cardinals who met their match in the Super Bowl so did Madison Avenue.

And it could be a game-changer. For the first time, it wasn't an ad agency that created the best-liked Super Bowl commercial. It was two unemployed brothers from Batesville, Ind., whose ad for Doritos created for an online contest for amateurs won them $1 million from Doritos maker Frito-Lay, and leaves ad pros with a lot of 'splaining to do.

What the duo did was beat 51 big-budget advertisers and won USA TODAY'S 21st annual exclusive Super Bowl Ad Meter real-time consumer testing of how much they liked the ads as they aired. (USA TODAY had no connection with Doritos and no connection to the online contest.)

The off-the-wall commercial, "Free Doritos," features a guy who shatters a vending machine with his crystal ball after predicting free Doritos for everyone in the office.

Just as impressive, the two and backer Doritos displaced Anheuser-Busch and broke its Ad Meter streak. The brewing giant had won 10 in a row.

Although A-B did well, with two ads ranking among Ad Meter's top five, it couldn't match Doritos, which also aired a second ad from the contest and it finished No. 5 out of the 52 ads in the games.

"Two nobodies from nowhere," just walked off with one of the ad world's top honors, says 32-year-old Dave Herbert, who made the winning ad with his 33-year-old brother, Joe.

We "beat the king of commercials," says Herbert.

The two brothers now have fame, fortune and a decent shot at changing the way Super Bowl commercials and maybe lots of others are made in the future.

As if the $280 billion U.S. advertising industry doesn't have enough problems in the struggling economy, now it's got an even bigger problem: Amateurs are beating it at its own game.

"Regular people have great ideas. They took something simple and made it funny," says Charles Boast, a 59-year old engineer from Alexandria, Va., an Ad Meter participant.