Chip Challenge

Sure, Doritos had Ali Landry, the sexy seductress who once caught a chip torpedoed out of a dryer with an acrobatic twist. But Frito-Lay wanted something new and different to reach its core market of 19-year-old males.

Last week, the Plano, Texas-based PepsiCo unit introduced a new theme along with a European eccentric who asks, “You are bold, but are you also daring?” The $20 million national advertising effort was developed by BBDO New York.

The launch includes three general-market spots for Doritos—two from BBDO, New York, and one from Hispanic agency Dieste & Partners, Dallas—and two additional spots for the Hispanic market.

In each commercial, the action is interrupted by Clive, the spokes man, who delivers the Doritos challenge. The “Basketball” spot opens on a one-on-one game; one player has a prosthetic leg. Cut to Clive, who delivers his question. The action on the court shows the amputee player now using his prosthetic leg to block a shot. (BBDO ran the spot past associations for the disabled to make sure it was not offensive.)

A second spot opens on a cheerleading squad performing before a crowd. After Clive sets up the dare, a male cheerleader, who has hoisted a female teammate onto his shoulders, pauses, looks around and sneaks a peek up her skirt.

A third commercial, “Sassy Guy,” was produced by Dieste for the Latino market, but it tested so well that the client decided to include it in the general-market mix. A teen ager cruises down the street, leaning out of his car window and flirting wildly with girls. After Clive’s question, the camera pulls back to show the car being pulled by a tow truck.

Each spot ends with Clive shaking the hands of the Doritos-worthy characters in the middle of a grass field and the tagline, “Doritos. For the bold and daring.”

But who is Clive, and why does he have a wooden desk and globe beside him in the grass field? Gerry Graf, executive creative director at BBDO, New York, says the lack of explanation is part of the humor. “There is no reason,” he says. “It’s just funny.”

It was director Marcos Siega’s idea to put the actor in the middle of a field, in a tribute to the nonsensical humor of Monty Python. “The things that make it charming aren’t specific,” Graf says. “Everything we did had to be a little off”—including shooting on Super 16 to add a grungy effect, keeping the editing a little rough and even asking the actor to perform the line in an odd mix of French and German accents. “We didn’t want to know quite where this guy was from,” says Graf.

To help sell the idea, the agency shot the basketball spot before presenting the campaign to Frito-Lay. “The first time we saw the campaign idea, we knew it was very powerful and would help us get top of mind,” says Cammie Dunaway, general man ager of marketing of kids and teen brands at Frito-Lay.

“When I look at work, it’s important that it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” she says. “If it doesn’t make me feel a little bit nervous, then it’s not going to do anything for the teens we’re trying to reach.”

The spokesman and the spots are also featured on the Doritos Web site, developed by BBDO interactive unit Atmosphere.