Township native helps sling together Super Bowl ad contender

Lahser grad hopes to win $1 million with Doritos commercial

By: Chris Jackett | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 26, 2012

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — One-year-old Jonah Folk may not gain the notoriety of Spencer Elden, but he’s taking the first step toward it.

Folk is the star of one of the final five commercials in Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest. The top two of 6,000 submissions will be featured during the NFL’s big game Feb. 5 and will get to work with The Lonely Island, a comedy group led by “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg, on upcoming Doritos promotions. Not to mention a $1 million grand prize.

Bloomfield Township native and current Los Angeles resident Nate Daniels, 27, is leading the push to springboard the commercial into the Super Bowl. If Daniels is successful, Folk could be know as either “the Doritos baby” or “sling baby,” landing among other famed children, such as the E-Trade baby and Elden, who is known as “the Nirvana baby” after floating in a pool as a toddler for Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover.

Daniels teamed with director Kevin Willson and other friends to produce the Doritos commercial, which is being voted on by fans through Jan. 29.

“Doritos has actually given us $20,000 for advertising our commercial online,” said Daniels, who graduated from Lahser in 2003 and Michigan State University’s marketing program in 2007 before moving to California. “The two videos that have the most votes get on the Super Bowl.”

The commercial features a 10-year-old on a backyard playscape using his bag of Doritos to taunt a senior woman in a wheelchair and a baby in a bouncing sling. The woman uses the bouncing sling to slingshot the baby toward the 10-year-old to grab the bag of Doritos. The final shot of the 30-second clip shows a stunned child watch as the grandmother and baby enjoy the Doritos.

“It came from a group of friends. We got together and brainstormed it,” Willson said.

This is the third-straight year Willson has landed as a finalist in the contest. His work was among the final six of 4,000 in 2010, the final five of 5,000 in 2011 and now the final five of 6,000. The 2010 commercial, featuring a man surrounded by Doritos inside a closed casket at his own funeral, aired on TV, but didn’t win the contest.

“We’re getting so close. Hopefully this year is the year,” Willson said. “It was really a good group of friends. We had a good time with it, and we’re excited about it.”

Daniels said the deciding factor among Super Bowl commercials is the USA Today Ad Meter, which measures the “second-by-second responses of a panel of viewers to ads during the Super Bowl and ranks them from best to worst,” according to www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/admeter/2011/super-bowl-ad-meter/43271432/1, where last year’s results are posted. Doritos landed first and fourth in 2011, so Daniels and Willson know the expectations of the flavored chip giant.

“It was designed to win the Ad Meter,” Daniels said. “We submitted two videos for the contest. The other was ‘Kitty Heist,’ and had cats and dogs. From the get-go, (‘Sling Baby’) was the one that was going to do the most damage in the competition.”

Shooting over the course of two days one weekend in a friend’s backyard, about 15-20 friends and volunteers came out to help. The commercial then spent two weeks in production with Justin Folk, the special effects man and father of the star baby. The slingshot part of the commercial was created with a green screen so the baby didn’t actually have to be catapulted anywhere.

“The baby’s father was our special effects guy. Kevin met him on a previous project,” Daniels said. “We’re just a bunch of friends who got together. The million-dollar incentive is nice.”

The group has already earned $25,000 for landing in the final five, which makes up for the more than $2,000 spent filming the commercial, but they are hoping to see the sling baby in action during the Super Bowl.

“We won’t know if we won or not until we see it on the Super Bowl,” Daniels said. “They keep is super secret, like the Golden Globes.”

To help give “Sling Baby” a chance at the Super Bowl and gaining fame similar to the Nirvana baby, visit www.crashthesuperbowl.com/#/?finalist=13253, www.vote4slingbaby.com and www.facebook.com/slingbaby to view and vote for the commercial by Jan. 29.

One person showed their support with a “Vote 4 Sling Baby” sign on NBC’s “The Today Show” Jan. 17.

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