Doritos Brand Chief Plugs Authenticity, Reveals Next Online Play

  • by March 20, 2007
HOLLYWOOD, CA -- Marketers need to "get real" and acknowledge that marketing isn't merely advertising and communication: It's about "building a relationship with consumers," according to Jason McDonell, director of marketing for Frito-Lay's Doritos brand.

Speaking to an overflow crowd on Monday at OMMA Hollywood, McDonell urged marketers to get a better understanding of their consumers by engaging in a dialogue with them. He illuminated Doritos' experience in doing just that by relating key highlights of his brand's recent experience in creating the Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contest. The contest invited consumers to create an ad that would air on the Super Bowl. With more than 1,000 entries, five finalists were chosen and consumers viewed and voted for their favorite ad online.

Doritos, McDonell said, learned that its target consumer--16 to 24-year-olds--embrace self-expression, independence, and something he called "belongingness"--the desire to belong to something. Doritos learned that the target lives a "hyperlife" (life on a multitasking, 24/7 basis); likes creative control and evidence of its own creative DNA (it wants a stage to perform on); and craves authenticity, reality, and relevance. These consumer insights were critical to establishing the framework for Doritos' consumer-generated Super Bowl challenge.

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Doritos partnered with multiple agencies--Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, OMD, Millsport, TPN, Yahoo Video, and Jumpcut--to collaborate on the contest. The collaboration found that the Doritos brand stands for bold, intense, hit, loud, and unapologetic; its product experience is synonymous to a big crunch, intense flavor, and triangular shape.

McDonell said Doritos ended up airing two of the five winning spots on the Super Bowl, much to the delight of both winning teams--and engendered what appears to be a lasting loyalty among one of the winning teams which appeared onstage with him at OMMA. The cast, crew, and director of "Checkout Girl" (three people), stood onstage with McDonell, who teased the audience that the team was ready for hire. In fact, the five teams who were finalists got to spend a week with the Doritos brand team, which cultivated even more understanding between brand and the consumer enthusiasts.

The Doritos challenge attracted 2 million hits on the contest microsite, 750,000 unique users, and 2 million total video views. McDonell called the comments section of the "Crash the Super Bowl" site "social networking at its best"--saying the technology enabled competitors to talk to one another and wish each other well, and invited visitors to comment on the entries. The contest racked up a lot of buzz: One billion impressions, which equates to $36 million in paid media, according to McDonell's presentation.

The contest enabled consumers to interact with the Doritos brand and buzz about it, which fostered a kind of magnetic process pulling fans to the brand, McDonell said. "Checkout Girl" racked up 850,000 views the day after the Super Bowl. The ad that received the most votes--"Live the Flavor"--was produced for $12.79 and submitted just 30 minutes before Doritos closed the contest.

McDonell stressed that marketers be a magnet for consumers rather than a mirror in which they tell consumers who they are. "Media today isn't just advertising...it builds relationships. Personal relationships," he said. To that end, Doritos recently launched a new online contest asking consumers to vote on two new flavors--Smokin' Cheddar BBQ and Wild White Nacho. After a winner emerges, there's no telling whether Doritos will launch another contest inviting consumers to devise a promotional campaign for the flavor.

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