UNC School of the Arts graduate Mark Freiburger is one of five finalists with a chance to get his Doritos commercial shown during this year’s Super Bowl – and possibly win $1 million.
Freiburger, 29, from Charlotte, directed a commercial called “Fashionista Daddy,” in which a dad is persuaded to ditch a football game with his pals when his Doritos-packing daughter wants him to play “Princess Fashion Show.” Later, his friends catch him in full princess mode – complete with frilly dress, heavy makeup and Doritos. The friends are then enticed – by the promise of Doritos – into playing as well.
Other commercials competing against Freiburger’s include a man in a grocery checkout line trying scam a bag of Doritos from an elderly blind man; a man with a wish-granting dog; a baby getting rid of a Doritos-stealing dog; and a man who buys a ravenous (for Doritos) goat who turns ugly when the Doritos run out.
The five finalists in Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest need fan votes to become one of two Doritos commercials shown during the game. The second commercial is chosen by a group from Doritos.
This year’s Super Bowl is Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
The most popular ad of any kind to air during the Super Bowl wins USA Today’s Ad Meter challenge, and the creators get $1 million and a chance to work with film director Michael Bay on the next “Transformers” movie. The second-place winner gets $600,000; third place gets $400,000.
For being chosen as a finalist, Freiburger and his team received $25,000 and will be in a special skybox at the Super Bowl game with Bay and the other four commercial teams. No one will know which commercials are chosen to air until it actually happens.
Freiburger’s team began their brainstorming with a tea party idea.
“Collectively, we thought of something family-centered so that men and women, young and old would like it,” Freiburger said. “I liked the idea of a father-daughter angle, because that’s usually not done. We kept kicking around ideas and it grew into this.”
Freiburger’s team consisted of a couple of other North Carolina talents: cinematographer Matt Skala, a UNC School of the Arts graduate whose family lives in Charlotte; and editor Chris Crutchfield of Charlotte, an N.C. State graduate.
The team shot in Los Angeles, where Freiburger now lives and works, with a budget of about $300.
“Everyone in front of and behind the camera were friends,” Freiburger said. “We didn’t pay anyone. It only cost about $300 to rent dresses and buy Doritos.”
At one point, Freiburger said, he was afraid the hefty dude wearing the rented wedding gown might rip it, doubling their budget.
If Freiburger wins, he won’t be the first North Carolina person to add “Super Bowl Commercial” to his resume.
In 2010, a Doritos ad by Raleigh firm 5 Points Productions won $600,000 for being the second-highest ranking ad in the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter. The ad featured a man on a park bench teasing a dog with a bag of Doritos. In 2007, the same group won first place in an online contest for best homemade Doritos commercial.
Freiburger graduated from UNC School of the Arts in 2005 with a degree in film directing. Since then, he has worked in the independent film business writing, directing and producing films. He has shot three movies in North Carolina – two of them based on novels by Charlotte author Robert Whitlow – and will begin shooting another movie here in a few months.
The Doritos commercial is a big departure for Freiburger, but it’s one he’s excited about.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time doing (independent films), but they don’t reach the kind of audience that having a Super Bowl commercial can reach,” he said. “I’d been looking for a way to step out into more mainstream fare and grow my audience, and this is a really wonderful opportunity if it airs.”