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For Super Bowl Ad, Doritos Turns to Users

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NEW YORK Frito-Lay plans to jump on the consumer-generated content bandwagon in a big way, turning over its Doritos Super Bowl ad to regular Joes.

The Plano, Texas-based Pepsi division will bypass its agency, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, in favor of creative from consumers. Doritos is soliciting executions through Yahoo, which will host a contest for users to vote on their favorite submissions.

Doritos said there are no professional requirements for entries, whether from would-be filmmakers or those simply with a passion for tortilla chips. It will accept entries from Oct. 2 to Dec. 1.

Brands have become serious in tapping the creative potential of the masses. Several marketers have allowed users to create Web videos that live on a brand site or let them tinker with taglines like Visa. A few, like Converse and Sony, have aired user creations on TV.

Now, consumer-generated ads are set to take on the Super Bowl. Chevrolet this week started its own contest to solicit ideas and scripts for an ad that Campbell-Ewald will produce. The Doritos push, however, goes further by committing to run the user-conceived and produced ad on advertising's most important day, in a time slot that costs on average more than $2 million last year.

"I'm not trying to suggest it replaces the agency-designed 30-second spot," said Reggie Bradford, CEO of ViTrue, an Atlanta company that provides a user-generated ad platform. "It enhances it. Time will tell whether consumer-generated advertising is bigger than agency generated."

In February, Frito-Lay shifted the Doritos account from BBDO to fellow Omnicom shop Goodby. (All Pepsi brands use Omnicom shops for creative chores.) The agency's role in the campaign is to drive users to the site and help choose and promote the winning spot.

Standing on the sideline for the Super Bowl is not a slight, said Jamie Barrett, executive creative director on the Doritos account at Goodby.

"Our greater goal is to do interesting, different things—sometimes that's an ad we didn't create on the Super Bowl," he said. "We make hundreds and hundreds of ads a year. We don't get any less reward doing an alternative approach."

The creative brief on the contest Web site gives wide latitude to citizen ad creators: "Maybe it's a story about eating your first Doritos chips or what life is like for the spices on the surface of the chip. Anything. Make the video you'd be excited to see if you were watching TV. Make it yours."

While the contest is open to all comers, its payoff of exposure on advertising's biggest stage will likely attract plenty of quality content. Sony's user-generated ad contest run with Current TV was won by the lead animator at a visual-design studio.

"I suspect some people will see this as a huge professional opportunity for them," said Barrett.

Doritos is not giving total control to users over what ad goes on air. The brand will winnow down five finalists in January, and then allow visitors to vote on which should appear. Those votes "will help determine" the ad shown Feb. 4, 2007, during the big game.

The spot will be the first Super Bowl ad Doritos has run since 2001, when BBDO produced a commercial starring former Miss USA Ali Landry. In 2002, it stopped airing Super Bowl ads, instead tripling its online spending to reach young consumers.

Despite the current vogue for user-generated ads and the rise of YouTube, advertising is unlikely become all-reality TV, Barrett said.

"It's not the beginning of the end for ad agencies," he said. "I just see it as yet another way to play with this thing we call advertising."