In early 2006, Andrew Robinson pitched a radical idea to the Doritos marketing team in a conference room at Frito-Lay's headquarters in Plano, Texas: What if the brand held a contest to give consumers -- not professional ad agencies -- a crack at creating a Super Bowl ad?
The idea felt risky, new and different, Mr. Robinson recalled to Ad Age's E.J. Schultz as the contest that ultimately resulted finally neared its 2016 conclusion. Executives at the time thought maybe it was too much so.
Mr. Robinson championed the concept while at The Marketing Arm, an Omnicom-owned agency that at the time was mostly handling sports marketing for Frito-Lay. But for some people in the room, outsourcing the biggest marketing move of the year to a bunch of amateurs was a bit too much to swallow, even for a brand that was looking for a bold idea to lure younger male consumers.
"There was general acknowledgment that it was big and cool," said Mr. Robinson, who later became the agency's president for consumer engagement. But "there was a lot of skepticism, as well, that the organization just wouldn't take the risk of investing $2 million in a consumer-generated ad."
So the pitch was rejected. But Mr. Robinson and other advocates inside Frito-Lay did not give up. They kept pushing and pitched the contest again a few months later. Top executives at PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay finally bought it, launching what would become "Crash the Super Bowl."
The very first winner was the above "Live the Flavor," created by 22-year-old Wes Phillips and 21-year-old Dale Backus of Cary, N.C., which became the most-liked ad of the 2007 Super Bowl, according to an IAG survey of 15,602 Super Bowl viewers and the fourth-highest ranked ad on USA Today's annual Super Bowl Ad Meter.
It wasn't the only entry to get time in Super Bowl XLI, however: Doritos surprised everyone and gave a second spot away to the runner-up, "Check Out Girl." Another finalist, "Mousetrap," wound up running in the 2008 Super Bowl.
Before "Crash the Super Bowl," Doritos hadn't been to the big game since 2001 (BBDO's "Tennis," starring Ali Landry).
AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
QUARTER AIRED: Q1