Doritos and Atlantic Records are partnering to put music front and center at the Super Bowl with the latest version of Crash the Super Bowl, the Frito-Lay snack brand's annual user-generated ad contest that invites consumers to submit their own 30-second commercials.
The winner will not only receive a $1 million prize for a commercial that will air during the most-watched TV event of the year, but one of 10 Atlantic acts will have its song featured in the ad as well, marking Doritos' first music partnership in Crash the Super Bowl's seven-year history.
Participating Atlantic acts are Icona Pop, Grouplove, Portugal. The Man, Crystal Fighters, Classified, Fitz & the Tantrums, Night Terrors of 1927, Cash Cash and Twenty One Pilots, as well as Warner Bros.' Atlas Genius. The campaign is open to consumers worldwide, and as such the participating artists are equally global in scope -- Frito-Lay VP of marketing Ram Krishnan says the 10 acts represent five different countries.
The Super Bowl averages more than 110 million viewers in the United States alone, according to Nielsen, and its commercial breaks are the most closely watched of any TV event. In recent years, it's proved its power as a launch pad for new singles, as Atlantic learned in 2012 with Doritos' ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and client Chevrolet, which featured fun.'s "We Are Young." That campaign prompted a huge sales spike on the following week's Billboard Hot 100, ultimately helping the song reach the chart's summit and making "We Are Young" one of the biggest singles of last year.
"All artists who have songs synched in these commercials win, with heritage acts and classic songs gaining new fans, and new artists and singles achieving immediate exposure on a global scale," Atlantic VP of brand partnerships and commercial licensing Brad Rains says.
Aspiring commercial directors can download pre-approved master, instrumental and 30-second versions of the participating artists' songs at Doritos.com, or preview them on Spotify. Submissions are due Nov. 24. While it's virtually impossible to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle reaction to "We Are Young," Rains is excited by the activity he's already seen among submissions, which started to be accepted on Oct. 8. "I don't believe there is a model or road map to achieve this kind of success with a single song/artist," he says. "It's a constantly evolving process."
Doritos' Krishnan says the company is still determining ways it can activate the partnership with Atlantic from a live perspective during the week of the Super Bowl in the New York area and beyond. With corporate sister Pepsi already a sponsor of the halftime show, Doritos may also look to its integrated sponsorship at South by Southwest for additional opportunities. For the last two years, Doritos has installed a six-story vending machine at the conference that has featured performances from Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and dozens of emerging acts.
Advertisers like Doritos paid an average of $3.7 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad in 2013, and have increasingly embraced the strategic role of music in their commercials. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Warner Bros. act the Flaming Lips starred in a commercial for Hyundai featuring the custom-written song "Sun Blows Up Today," Budweiser made emotional use of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" for its latest Clydesdale ad, PSY reprised his "Gangnam Style" dance for Wonderful Pistachios and Usher made a cameo in a Mercedes-Benz commercial scored by the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."
Major synchs can fetch anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million, depending on the artist, number of territories airing the ad, the length of the commercial and whether the song has been synched previously.