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2012 Super Bowl Commercials: Sneak Preview (Update 1)

PepsiCo and Frito Lay will either never have to pay an advertising firm to produce a Super Bowl commercial for it again after this year or it will have to shell out all the time.

Doritos has a great thing going with its Crash The Super Bowl contest that turns user submissions into ads for the $3.5 million base price of the commercial and $1 million in prize money offered to the winner. The contest is in its sixth year and, judging by Brand Keys' numbers, does the single best job of improving brand equity out of any Super Bowl ad campaign. Doritos get a 13-point boost among consumers once they see the ads, which is far better than the six-point decline posted by the Super Bowl commercial for the health freaks over at Dannon.

This year, however, Doritos doubled down by spending another $3.5 million on an ad featuring Saturday Night Live musical comedy act Lonely Island. That's great for folks who loved hearing Michael Bolton's thoughts on Captain Jack Sparrow and giant squid or Andy Samberg's take on white guys with dreadlocks, but it could end up doing a number on Doritos' bottom line if mainstream America actually digs it.

Doritos is playing a nice game of managed expectations by crowdsourcing its $3.5 million Super Bowl spot and leaving the production details up to guys pretending to be birds or getting chased around by Rottweilers. Why they'd want to mess with success by actually paying for the funny is baffling, but they've spent the past six years saving with cheap labor. Who are we to say they can't splurge?
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