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February 8, 2012

Super Bowl Ad Winners Believe . . .

. . . in Doritos and, as it turns out, in God. And now they're $1 million richer.

Nathan Scoggins loves Doritos. Really. He calls himself a "Ranch man all the way," referring to one of their most popular flavors. And now he's one of the proud creators of one of their most popular commercials of all time: "Sling Baby."

You might've seen the ad during the Super Bowl. You know the one, where the whiny kid taunts a grandma and an infant with his bag of Doritos -- and where the old lady launches a plan, and the baby, to nab the chips from said kid. Yesss!!!

Viewers loved that commercial (embedded at the end of this post), and voted it No. 1 in the USA Today/Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter. As a result, Scoggins, director Kevin Willson, and the team behind the creative commercial have won $1 million from Doritos. Willson says the money will be divided among everyone who made the commercial, and Scoggins says the producers will tithe a portion of the earnings "to a non-profit organization."

Willson and Scoggins (left and right, respectively, in photo) are both Christians who met at Hollywood's Mosaic Church about 10 years ago. (Willson is a graduate of Biola University, Scoggins a grad of Wesleyan University.) Willson runs a production company called Compass Films, and Scoggins is a writer/director at Number 3 Films. (Scoggins wrote and directed his first feature film, The Least of These, which released last year.)

One more cool spin-off from the commercial: The ridiculously fun Sling Baby Game!

Scoggins was a member of the creative team behind the commercial; I did a quick Q&A with him today to learn more of their story:

How did the idea for this commercial come about?

"While we all brought some outside ideas to the table, 'Sling Baby' was a great example of a concept that was created in community. We started with the idea of old people in a nursing home fighting with doctors and nurses over Doritos, segued into an idea about kids fighting with teachers at school over Doritos, then refined that idea down to a baby and a grandmother fighting over Doritos, only to be bested by an older brother who would get the bag, creating a new enemy. We then all decided that we really liked the idea of a grandmother and a baby teaming up, and decided to make that the core concept. Originally it was much more elaborate, but we decided that the visual of the baby being 'slung' through the air was hilarious, so we went with that visual, and a few members of the group wrote it up. It was a very collaborative process -- a great example of what emerges out of community."

How did you and Kevin meet, and will you do more projects together?

"We met almost ten years ago when we were both going to Mosaic. We first connected at an artists' retreat, and he's one of my closest friends out here. We've frequently collaborated -- he was the assistant director on my first short film, and I've given him notes on scripts and projects. We're always kicking around ideas together. Hopefully when the dust settles from this experience, we'll be able to get back to some of those ideas!"

Any idea how the $1 million will be split up?

"I know the producers have committed to tithing a portion of the earnings to a non-profit organization, and apart from that, I'm not totally sure how it gets split. However, this was a full-court-press effort on a lot of people's behalf, and I know the producers want to recognize everyone's hard work. It's tempting to see 'FRIENDS WIN A MILLION DOLLARS' and assume that we're all showering in hundred dollar bills and getting our teeth done in gold, but the reality is that once we all split it (and Uncle Sam takes his share), we will probably have enough to go out to a nice place to eat."

How does your faith inform your work?

"It's tough to say how faith informs a Dorito's commercial! (I would actually be a little leery of anyone who decided they were going to glorify God by making a commercial.) But I think my faith definitely informs my sensibilities, and Kevin's too. Kevin wants to make comedies that appeal to everyone, and 'Sling Baby' is a great example. Hollywood talks about the power of '4-quadrant movies,' movies that appeal across all demographics, and 'Sling Baby' is a great example of a 4-quadrant commercial. It also adheres to basic storytelling principles -- in this case, two unlikely heroes who overcome impossible odds to achieve an even more impossible goal -- which, come to think of it, kind of sums up the whole 'Sling Baby' Super Bowl experience!

"St. Paul sums up the core virtues of Christianity as faith, hope, and love. I love telling stories that reflect those virtues -- even stories that might be on the dark side. The stories I've been fortunate to work on -- and continue to develop -- are stories revolving around those core essentials. It's not even conscious -- I just can't help it.

"I don't think that's peculiar to Christians either. I met with a prominent producer a few years ago who isn't a Christian, and I asked him what stories attracted him. He said, 'Anything that gives me hope.' As human beings, we're hard-wired for hope, and as a result, I believe that anything that brings us hope, brings us a little closer to God. Even if it's just a baby soaring through the air!"

Finally, do you personally eat Doritos?
Which kind is your favorite? Will you and Kate be serving Doritos at every gathering you host for the rest of your lives?

"I'm a Doritos Ranch man all the way -- not even lyin'. Just saying that makes my mouth water. Might need to make a Doritos run here in a second."