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Are Doritos fans homophobes, or just copycats?

It’s hard to believe, but some Doritos eaters lack originality. Take a look at the video below. This is a fan-created ad that was entered in this year’s “Crash The Super Bowl” contest for Doritos and Pepsi Max.

Now take a look at this 1999 ad for Sweden’s Expressen newspaper:

The similarities between these two ads were first spotted by The Dog & Pony Show blog, which noted, “It’s just depressing that this is what passes for great advertising these days.”

User-generated content has been around long enough that by now, we all know the upsides and downsides. It’s a good way for a brand to engage their most loyal customers, but by turning the wheel over to civilians, you risk that things could spin horribly out of control.

In past years, “Crash the Super Bowl” has led to some really funny ads that are right on-pitch for a snack food. But sometimes these ads, like the one above, really cause the wrong kind of trouble. In cases like this, Doritos has to share the responsibility for it.

The copying problem is just one of the dicey things about this ad. On top of that, you have a borderline homophobic and racially insensitive ad. The ad trades on the stereotype that black men are well-endowed. And it exploits for humor the idea that a man can be sexually attracted to a male stranger. On the first watch, I laughed at this ad. I thought it was funny enough to get away with basically being a 30-second dick joke. It seemed close to the line, but didn’t strike me as pandering to anti-gay or racist feelings. But a quick perusal of blogs finds that plenty of gay people are not laughing at it.

So we’ve got a copycat ad that’s also offensive. Could it get worse? It actually did. Doritos had to confront a P.R. problem this week when influential bloggers mistook this ad and others for ACTUAL, sanctioned Doritos ads. See The Advocate and AgencySpy, to name two.

Ad people sometimes deride user-generated content as a lame strategy for budget-strapped brands to get free creative work. Really? Consider all the hours expended fielding these submissions, running this contest, and dealing with the fallout when some fan takes things too far. Not to mention damage to the brand.

A single fan-generated Doritos ad managed to be offensive, a rip-off and a P.R. disaster. If you think this kind of advertising is cheap, think again.

* * * *
Who wrote this ad? Someone nicknamed philprincephims.

Who signed off on it? Technically nobody, though the campaign is overseen by Rudy Wilson, Frito-Lay Vice President of Marketing, and Lauren Hobart, PepsiCo Beverages America Chief Marketing Officer for Sparkling Beverages

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Social Media

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