CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- One way to stretch that return on investment in that Super Bowl ad buy: Start at the beginning of football season and offer cold, hard cash.
PepsiCo's Doritos is running its third consecutive "Crash the Super Bowl" campaign, which asks consumers to vote on their favorite consumer-generated spot that will appear in the big game. But to spice up the contest, the chip maker is dangling $1 million reward if the winning ad tops a popular ad poll.
"Our consumers want creative control and to participate in the brand," said Ann Mukherjee, group VP, Frito-Lay marketing. she said consumer engagement has been consistently high for each contest. "We have to put our money where our mouth is. If we don't get them the biggest stage possible, it won't be as authentic."
Not done for cost savings
She said the strategy had nothing to do with saving on production costs, or avoiding paying fees to its ad agency, Omnicom Group's Goodby Silverstein & Partners. She said there's a substantial investment in building the infrastructure at SnackStrongProductions.com, the Doritos website that also supports its annual contest.
Doritos' first attempt at "crashing" the Super Bowl, in 2007, was a similar consumer-generated advertising contest, involving five hand-picked finalists from 1,100 entries. After more than 150,000 votes, the winning spot placed fourth on the USA Today ad meter. Last year, the snack maker held a music-video contest, which seemed to make smaller waves in the big game. But Doritos snagged 30 seconds of airtime shortly before the game and ran a consumer-generated spot from the 2007 contest and landed the No. 4 spot again.
"We kept getting fourth place when we weren't even trying," Ms. Mukherjee said. "So this time, we said, 'Why don't we see what we can do if we really try?'" To that end, Doritos will give the winning ad maker $1 million if the commercial is No. 1 on the ad meter.
There's going to be some pretty stiff competition. Anheuser-Busch has garnered that distinction each of the last 10 years. Some marketers do offer bonuses attached to performance in post-game polls.
But for Doritos, return on a Super Bowl ad investment is measured in months of engagement. The brand kicked off its contest back in September, and whittled the five finalists down from more than 2,000 entries. The chosen spots each have elements of mischievousness, not to mention more than 90,000 views apiece at SnackStrongProductions.com. Two of the spots had nearly 110,000 views by press time. Ms. Mukherjee said that this year's contest was on track to beat the 2007 contest's vote total of 150,000.