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2 would-be Super Bowl ad makers with Utah ties get a big break

Published: Thursday, Jan. 6 2011 9:58 p.m. MST

A scene from "The Best Part," an ad that is part of a Doritos contest.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two men with Utah ties are in the running for a big prize from Doritos. They both made commercials that may air during the Super Bowl — if they get enough online support.

While thinking of an idea for his Doritos spot, Lehi resident Tyler Dixon realized what his favorite part of Doritos is — the cheese left on his fingertips.

"What if you were at work, you ate your Doritos and you already licked your fingers? Where are you going to go next?" Dixon said.

So, desperately wanting to eat the cheese left behind by Doritos chips, the awkward office worker in Dixon's ad resorts to stealing the cheese of a co-worker's fingers.

"If I really wanted to get that flavor, would I suck somebody else's fingers? Would I tear off a co-worker's pants to get the remaining cheese dust off (the pants)? I can't say that I wouldn't," he said.

He's kidding. Dixon admits he thinks of crazy things from time to time. At one point, he even joked that the inspiration for the ad came from real life and that licking his boss' fingers is what made him lose his last job.

While he hasn't lost his sense of humor, Dixon was let go from a stock photography company when his job was outsourced to Poland. He has been selling satellite television door to door since then just to pay the bills.

But, being let go from his job seemed to be the push he needed to give his dream job of writing for television a shot. Within the last few months, he and two of his friends created their own production company — a decision that seems to be paying off.

"We started just filming our own little projects, our own commercials and shorts and things like that," he said. "We actually have had a ton of success just in the few months that we've been working together."

Their company is so young that they haven't even decided what it should be named yet. The actors they have used are all friends who have donated their time to get the business running. The total cost to produce Dixon's "The Best Part" ad for the contest was a whopping $82. So, becoming a finalist for this competition is a sign of their talent and potential, he said.

Being one of the top three ads according to online voters will be no easy task. Competition is stiff and it includes Salt Lake native JR Burningham. He and his girlfriend submitted "Pug Attack," an ad featuring a pug that wants the chips so badly that she breaks down a glass door to get them, knocking a man who taunted her to the floor.

"The pug is owned by a friend of ours and every time we see her, she makes us laugh," Burningham said. "So we were talking about, 'We could do something with Oko. Oko is hilarious."

Burningham moved to Burbank, Calif., and graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, but he still considers himself a Utahn since he was born and raised in Salt Lake City.

Despite his graduate degree, getting into the movie-making business is as cutthroat as it gets. He and his girlfriend went through a lot of financial trouble because opportunities in the film industry dried up when the economy fell a few years ago. This contest could be the break Burningham has been looking for.

"To make the top three and play during the Super Bowl, that's (essentially) Doritos putting a million dollars behind your commercial to show it to everybody. They're just handing you this amazing opportunity," he said.

The "Crash the Super Bowl" contest is being held by Doritos and Pepsi Max. Out of roughly 5,600 submissions, only 10 were selected to be finalists — five featuring Doritos and five for Pepsi Max. Dixon and Burningham both won $25,000 for making it as top five finalists for their Doritos ads. Burningham said just making it into the top five is huge.

"The idea of winning is just insane to me. I don't even know what to think about if we were to win," he said.

Three commercials from each product will be broadcast during the Super Bowl. No one in the top 10 will find out who won until the big game. All of them will be flown to the game and will watch from a luxury suite, waiting to see if their spots make the airwaves.

The creators of those six commercials that are shown have the potential to win a lot more money from Doritos. If a spot is voted as the best commercial of the game by the USA Today ad meter, the spot's creator will win a million dollars. They'll get $600,000 if they earn second place or $400,000 for third. If the ads sweep the top three, all three winners get another million dollars each, on top of what they've already won.

e-mail: pnelson@desnews.com

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