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Super Bowl and advertising go hand in hand. It could be considered “the big show” for advertisers, because just as many people tune in to see the ads as they do the big game. When Frito-Lay took a big risk ten years ago and turned over the creative power to the public with its Crash the Super Bowl campaign, executives were nervous. But when their first crowdsourced ad ranked No. 4 in the Ad Meter, it supported the decision to continue with the program, which changed advertising, as we know it. 

It all started as a way to lure younger male consumers and it ended with increased sales and put crowdsourcing on the map. Now in its tenth and final year, the Crash the Super Bowl campaign has produced and aired 21 total ads, each of which have earned a top-five ranking on the USA Today Ad Meter, including four No. 1 spots. Ace Metrix, an ad-scoring firm, ranks Doritos as the No. 1 most effective Super Bowl advertised brands between 2010-2015.

What made this concept stand out, other than fact the general public is creating the ads, is that it isn’t just a one-and-done type of thing. It is a six-month engagement program that all leads up to the winning Super Bowl ad. Frito-Lay North America Chief Marketing Officer Ram Krishnan credits the Crash campaign for taking Doritos from a $1.54 billion brand to a $2.2 billion brand.

In 2006, the main target was Millennials, social media was still in its infancy, and turning over this opportunity to amateurs was providing an opportunity for consumers to shine. Fast-forward ten years and the target is now Gen Z, which is the label for the kids of Gen Xer’s, and user-generated content is nothing new. One notable aspect of Gen Z is that they don’t wait for their chance to be discovered; they create it, causing the role and the value of the brand in this case to shift. The idea of user-generated content is not going away completely, but you can say it’s getting bolder.

The new program is called Legion of the Bold, and it asks consumers for creative ideas throughout the year on content ranging from Vine videos to banner ads and everything in between. Consumers sign up on the website and respond to various pitches. The winning entrants are paid based on the complexity of the creative brief. “What we are doing is creating a platform that they [pitch ideas] 365 days a year instead of making this big deal about this one moment of time that we did once a year,” Mr. Krishnan said.

Doritos’ idea of crowdsourcing was initially frowned upon in the world of advertising, but when the quality of the returned content improved and proved to be successful, it gradually made crowdsourcing in the industry more acceptable.