Babies and animals; animals and babies.
For the past few Februarys, sitting through Super Bowls focusing mostly on the commercials, Kyle Kelley has noticed this about the winners of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial contest.
“People keep winning with the same thing every year,” Kelley said. “An animal or a baby.”
So when the 28-year-old student at the Art Institutes International-Kansas City in Lenexa decided to enter this year’s competition — which offers a $1 million grand prize and the airing of the winning commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII — he decided to mix things up.
While many of the entries are centered primarily on sex appeal, Kelley’s follows what he hopes is a unique narrative: the trials and tribulations of a wily grandmother who has zero tolerance for anything — or anyone — that gets between her and her Doritos.
And on Wednesday, after two months, $7,000 in expenses and roughly 500 hours of manpower involved in bringing a pair of 30-second commercials to fruition, Kelley will find out if the idea caught the attention of the judges.
Doritos will announce as many as 20 semifinalists from hundreds of entries, before narrowing the field to five sometime around Jan. 4. Those finalists will be awarded at least $25,000 and an invite to this year’s Super Bowl in New Jersey. Of those, entries from the top two will air during the game and be invited to the set of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
To make the Nov. 24 deadline, Kelley enlisted 10 or so volunteers and devoted much of the past couple months to the project — often at the expense of class.
There were scripts to write and roles to be cast, locations to scout and permits to obtain. The group built a set from scratch, cobbling together a jail cell.
“It’s been nonstop for the past couple months,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep, especially in the last two and a half weeks. Physically and emotionally, it’s very draining.”
The first spot, “Bad Grandma
,” features a walker-aided elderly woman out for a stroll, minding her own business, when her purse is snatched by a mugger. The grandma catches up with her perpetrator in a dark alley, however, and retrieves her purse — which is stuffed with a bag of Doritos — by depositing the gentleman into a nearby dumpster.
The second, which is a kind-of sequel, has Grandma waiting in a police department lobby, near that jail cell, which houses a number of inmates. When a guard leaves her Doritos unsecured and they’re gobbled up by an imposing inmate, Grandma is rather nonplussed.
“It’s not too much of a stretch for me,” said Kathy Breeden, who is the theater director at Leawood Middle School in the Blue Valley School District and played the role of Grandma. “I’ve been teaching a long time. I’ve been teaching 32 years. I’m a theater teacher and director, so (that) kind of makes you bossy.”
Whether the approach can distinguish itself from the plethora of other entries remains to be seen.
“I’m terrified,” Kelley said. “Because of the fact that I put all this money in and all these guys helped me out. If we don’t make it as one of the top five, I’m going to be devastated.”
But so far, there’s reason for optimism.
Kelley’s first commercial was among the most-viewed on the contest’s website in recent weeks, and though fan voting won’t ultimately play into Wednesday’s selection of the top 20, he feels confident about his artistic vision.
“I just think it’s a fresh idea,” he said. “And I hope people like it.”