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Annual Frito Lay Super Bowl Contest Illustrates Risks of User-Generated Ads

User-generated ad contests are a good way for a brand to engage with its customer base and hopefully generate some content that could go viral.

They are also a good way to dent a brand’s reputation if a user gets carried away. Frito Lay may find itself in the latter camp, at least temporarily, with its annual Crash the Super Bowl user-generated ad contest. This year, the company is asking consumers to create ads for Doritos and Pepsi Max, and one ad has offended Catholics, MediaBuyerPlanner reports.

The Feed the Flock ad [video] features a priest apparently offering the Eucharist with Doritos and Pepsi instead of wafers and wine. But actor Michael Lyons (a devout Catholic) who conceived the idea for the commercial and portrays the pastor, offered the following: "The initial feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but unfortunately a small percentage of comments posted on the CTSB website cried foul and it grew from there. Those people misconstrued the content and intent of the ad. The pastor did not consecrate the Doritos and Pepsi – therefore it is not the Eucharist."

The ad did not make it as one of the 10 finals, but is still giving both Pepsi and Doritos a great amount of publicity. The spot generated over 100,000 views on YouTube in three days, and on the Crash the Super Bowl site the ad surpassed 20,000 views in a short amount of time. The Crash the Super Bowl contest received more than 5,600 submissions.

Frito-Lay is hardly the first company to experience some blowback from a UG ad. The classic example is the Chevy Tahoe YouTube campaign, in which Chevy provided users with video clips and soundtracks, and encouraged them to remake these elements into commercials. As is widely known, environmentalists used the platform to create ads representing their point of view - many of which became very popular on YouTube. Chevy responded with its own post, explaining its position and why it allows users to have free reign with its images.

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