Digital Video Recorders are a beautiful thing. You can watch the Superbowl and bypass all those boring commercials or, if you're like me, bypass all that boring football and skip straight to the commercials. This was, of course, the year crowdsourcing came to the Superbowl, with three ads created by users—two for Doritos and one for Chevrolet. In addition to showcasing user-created ads, the NFL asked viewers to help choose the game's MVP and the Grammy's asked viewers to decide which amateur chanteuse should perform a duet with Justin Timberlake next Sunday.
I personally loved the winning Doritos ad, a spot called "Live the Flavor" created by North Carolina video producer Dale Backus. It was clever and winsome and—unlike the trend in user-generated ads—pretty damn slick. But who cares about my opinion when we have, for once, reliable metrics!?! USA Today, Youtube and TiVo all ranked the Sunday night's most popular ads. "Live the Flavor" took top honors at Youtube, placed fourth in USA Today's Rankings and took the fifth spot on TiVo. Not bad, considering that Anheuser-Busch spends enough on their Superbowl spots to fund a small war, and "Live the Flavor" was shot on a shoestring budget and filmed in a single take.
I'd like to say this proves that amateurs can make just as compelling creative as professionals, but alas, Dale Backus isn't an amateur. According to the trade site Digital Video Editing, Dale is a principal in the Cary, NC-based video production firm Five Point Productions. (The company has a blog about their Superbowl experience here.) This doesn't mean the big agencies should be any less scared. When a company whose accounts consist of local wedding chapels starts taking your Superbowl business, you know the rules of the game have changed. ("It's kind of scary that a consumer can come up with stuff that good," one ad exec told the Wall St. Journal. But this does raise real questions about the crowdsourcing model. Does it truly allow talented amateurs to rise to the level of professional, or just create a more perfect meritocracy between people already earning their living at their craft?
I don't have the answer to that question, but with your help we soon will. Doritos picked five runners-up, and in what amounts to a crowdsourcing.com experiment, I'm asking my readers to continue the investigation and determine the backgrounds of the other winners. Pro or Am? Results will be posted, complete with any analysis you might want to add.