Commercial by UF grads is a Doritos finalist for Super Bowl


This is a screen capture from Joe and Vinnie Taranto's commercial "Fetch," a finalist for Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl ad contest, which can be viewed on YouTube and at www.vote4fetch.com.

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.

Joe Taranto's life changed with the answer of a phone call.

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This is a screen capture from Joe and Vinnie Taranto's commercial "Fetch," a finalist for Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl ad contest, which can be viewed on YouTube and at www.vote4fetch.com.

He was expecting to hear from a Doritos executive who had told him there were legal issues with his entry into Doritos' “Crash the Super Bowl” competition, in which contestants create their own Doritos commercial.

Taranto, a University of Florida graduate, thought his dreams of winning the contest had gone up in flames and he was already making plans for a reshoot or whatever else was necessary to salvage his work.

He picked up the phone that early December day and asked, “Who's calling?''

“Michael Bay” was the response. As in Michael Bay, the renowned film producer and director.

Turns out, there were no legal problems but some good news instead. Bay told Taranto that his video “Fetch” had been chosen out of thousands to be one of five finalists in the competition. Two winning videos will be aired during this weekend's Super Bowl telecast.

“I don't know if I cussed or asked him if this was for real,” Taranto recalled. “I thought it was one of my friends pranking me.”

The annual contest, which Doritos has held since 2007, gives the public a chance to create a 30-second ad and have it aired during the Super Bowl.

“Getting an ad in the Super Bowl is like winning the Super Bowl in the NFL,” said Vinnie Taranto, also a UF grad, who co-produced the ad with brother Joe. “It is the pinnacle. There is nothing higher professionally than having your ad in the Super Bowl. It is an amazing opportunity they give out every year.”

The Taranto brothers and the other four finalists each were awarded $25,000, a five-day all-inclusive trip to New Orleans and two VIP suite tickets to Super Bowl XLVII with Doritos executives and Michael Bay.

“I've never been to a Super Bowl game,” Vinnie Taranto said. “I've been to a bunch of college games and bowl games, but Super Bowl games cost thousands.”

One ad will be picked by Doritos and the other will be selected by voters on Facebook, who have until midnight tonight to make their choice.

This year, Doritos executives decided to throw contestants a curve — finalists won't know which two ads won until they air live during the game on Sunday.

“It's like Christmas morning when you're waiting to see if you're going to get a good present or not,” Joe Taranto said. “But you still have to remember that it's Christmas morning, and that you're going to get a present. So just the fact that we made it here is good enough for me.”

The stakes get higher with what Vinnie Taranto calls the “icing on the cake.” He said USA Today will conduct an “ad meter” that will allow registered panelists to rank all the commercials aired during the game. Participants have until Friday to register to be a panelist online at http://admeter.usatoday.com/.

The ad that ends up ranked third overall will be awarded $400,000, second $600,000 and first $1 million. The highest-ranked Doritos ad will also earn one member of the winning team the chance to work with Bay on the film “Transformers 4.”

Both brothers graduated from UF's College of Journalism and Communications — Vinnie in 2002, Joe in 2006 — after studying television and radio production.

They both have kept up with the competition since the year it started, and Vinnie Taranto said he has always watched the games solely for the commercials.

The Tarantos talked about submitting their own ad to the Doritos competition. Yet, because Joe is working on his master's in fine arts/production at Loyola Marymount University and Vinnie is busy working in property management in Melbourne Beach, the two never had the time.

But this year, Joe, 31, had finished his heavy course load, and Vinnie, 36, had some time off work, so the brothers found one weekend to craft a Doritos commercial.

They got together in Los Angeles and brainstormed. After coming up with seven or eight concepts, they realized each one revolved around one theme: Be careful what you wish for, or you might just get it.

The result was a commercial including a dog, a person making wishes and a bear. Vinnie said Doritos' target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds usually relates to girls, dogs, babies, grandparents and partying, so they wanted to incorporate as many of these elements as possible.

“Fetch” tells the comedic story of a boy-next-door who is asked by his grandma to babysit her Chihuahua-Yorkshire Terrier mix named Goliath. Grandma explicitly warns the boy, “Do not play fetch” with Goliath.

But the boy asks Goliath to fetch him Doritos and the dog promptly comes back with a nacho cheese covered chip. The boy then asks for a bag full of Doritos, which the pint-sized dog delivers. Fawning over a brunette bombshell on the cover of a magazine, the boy asks for a “bare naked … ” and before he can complete his sentence, the dog fetches a bear that proceeds to chase the boy.

Meanwhile, the pup is shown casually savoring a crimson bag of tortilla chips on the couch.

While Joe thought the commercial was well-done, he said he didn't think “Fetch” would be a finalist because of the stiff competition.

Once the brothers found out they were finalists, they gave up sleep and kicked their efforts into overdrive to promote their video. They created a website called www.voteforfetch.com, at which people could watch the ad, vote and share it with friends.

“Everyone's support has definitely motivated and inspired me,” Joe said. “Everyone kind of picked up the torch and helped by spreading the word and getting people to vote. It makes me motivated to create more stuff that makes people laugh and entertains them.”

In the meantime, the brothers have created extra videos to post on their website and provide supporters with some extra laughs. Vinnie said he and his brother are givers, and if people are taking the time to go to their website every day, the least they can do is make them laugh.

If their creation wins the grand prize, the Tarantos said they'll split the money with the 17 crew members who worked on the ad. Ten percent of the winnings will be donated to the Humane Society in honor of Petal, the dog who plays Goliath and was almost euthanized before being saved by her owner. However, Joe said his main goal would be to use the prize to pay off his student loans.

“Doritos has opened doors for me and Vinnie which we never thought possible,” Joe said.

“It takes years to become a commercial director and years to get one of the big Super Bowl spots and now they are giving us the opportunity to do it in a few months,'' he said. “It's definitely been a wild few months, but I'll sleep afterwards.”

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