Inane Doritos Ad Wins Super Bowl Poll. Do we smell a rat?

This morning USA Today released the results of its

This morning USA Today released the results of its “Ad Meter”, the yardstick advertisers use to judge their Super Bowl ads. Not all of the scores jibe with our assessment of the game, but I thought the declared winner, Doritos, was downright outrageous. Did these 288 grown men and women from Portland, Oregon and McLean, Virginia — two places I always thought sounded decent enough — really chuckle hardest, grin widest, and twiddle their “ad meter” devices most vigorously when the twitchy man threw the snow globe at the vending machine? Of all the things advertisers tried last night, was that really all it took?

Judge for yourself:

USA Today’s site tracks the second-by-second responses to each ad, and I took some solace that the mood of these Portlanders and McLeaniacs’ fell slightly (very slightly) when an old man took a projectile snow globe to the crotch later in the spot. Hey, I like slapstick humor as much as anybody else, but this Doritos spot wasn’t the best.

USA Today interpreted the result to mean that Madison Avenue should be worried — this Doritos spot was created by amateurs as part of a competition. But that’s where I’m suspicious. In the competition, Doritos promised $1 million to anyone who could top the USA Today Ad Meter. So did USA Today’s panelists know that ahead of time? And, if they were aware that a hopeful amateur had a million bucks on the line, did that influence how hard they twisted their little ad meters when that snow globe took flight?

Meanwhile, a search marketing company, Reprise Media, tracked which ads generated the most online searches. E*Trade won there.

UPDATE: A spokesperson from USA Today tells me that no one mentioned to any of the panelists that the Doritos ad was made by an amateur, or that Doritos was running a contest around the Ad Meter results, but that of course, some of the panelists might have known on their own. I got in touch with one of the panelists, George Banks, from the Portland, Oregon group. He said he didn’t know that the Doritos ad wasn’t professionally created, but that he enjoyed it a lot. Two commenters have already weighed in to say they liked it to. So, I guess I’ll have to start a new conspiracy theory: What’s wrong with everyone else’s sense of humor??

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