If there is one constant regarding the Super Bowl it is this: Monday morning’s water cooler conversation will invariably involve commercials. The best, the worst, the memorable, the ridiculous. Bloggers, of course, were ranking commercials in real time last night. “We gather online to talk about the game and ponder whether Peyton will win the big one,” wrote Josh Hallett on hyku.com. “Mostly though we talk about the commercials.”


USA Today’s Ad Meter, the annual “real-time consumer focus group ranking of Super Bowl commercials,” was released today as well. What was notable this year was not that Budweiser won for the ninth consecutive year (though congratulations are in order; if only their beer had as much flavor as their commercials), but the fact that for the first time there was a category for “Consumer-generated ads.”


The first-quarter Doritos spot took that top honor: Amazingly, a commercial that cost over $2 million to air cost only $12.79 to make. “Imagine, a commercial made for the reported cost of $12.00 ranked as one of the ‘best’ commercials in the game,” wrote Randy Hoffman on lostremote.com. “I believe that spot will not escape the attention of folks writing the checks for those million-dollar production budgets. Particularly those in charge at the automakers that are bleeding red ink.”


If the numbers weren’t enough to make snack executives drool over something other than, well, snacks, it appears as though the ads are rising in popularity. According to a comScore Networks press release, a site Doritos set up to promote consumer-generated ads drew 227,000 unique visitors between Jan. 1-28, demonstrating “the broadening appeal of the consumer-generated content phenomenon.”


ComScore Networks found that more than twice as many Americans surveyed (27 percent) “said they thought the consumer-generated commercials aired during the Super Bowl would be more entertaining than thought the professionally-produced commercials would be (13 percent).”


“The Doritos commercial was classic YouTube fodder, two goofy kids doing goofy things, only now they’re shilling chips,” posted the Unemployed Writer on thechatfield.com. “It was a better commercial than the actual Doritos commercial.”


“I think consumer-generated ads are the way to go!” wrote Derrick on Cyberjournalist.net, whose sentiment was echoed by lostremote.com: “No one spot stood out as a home run. Maybe that’s why Madison Avenue is tapping the talent of amateurs.”


There is some controversy as to whether this user-generated content was truly produced by amateurs. Some of the finalists in the competition had previous filmmaking experience. “What the Doritos finalists prove,” wrote Barbara Lippert, “is that while it’s great to think of consumer-generated content as the ultimate revolutionary democratization of the media, in the end the people participating are not your average Joes.”


Comments like that, however, miss the point. The illusion that anyone can produce a Super Bowl ad is powerful enough to draw in consumers, and the reality that these ads can be produced on the cheap draws in the distributors. Everyone wins.


“It will be interesting to see how this plays out,” wrote Kwandom on churchofthecustomer.com. “Should save these big corporations a lot of money. Can we say online video sites with voting capabilities have become a disruptor to ad agencies?”

Dan Goldberg is a CJR intern.