Cary, N.C. — The canine star of the 30-second "Underdog" ad by a Raleigh company didn't just get a bag of Doritos. She also won Super Bowl viewers' hearts and $650,000 in prize money.
"Underdog," featuring a man outsmarted by a dog for bag of Doritos, won a national ad competition for Frito-Lay.
The ad's makers, though, didn't know it had won until they saw it aired during the first quarter of the Super Bowl.
"We were so jumpy, and when it aired, we blew up out of our seats," the ad's human star, Bill Oliver said.
"It is a blur, 10 seconds of my life I don't remember what happened," said Josh Svoboda, who produced the ad for 5 Point Productions in Raleigh.
Svoboda and 5 Point Productions colleagues Wes Phillips and Nick Dimondi got even better news Monday morning: "Underdog" won second place in the USA Today Ad Meter, which tracks how a panel of viewers responds to ads.
“There is nothing that can really describe the feeling. We knew that the ad had the most star power,” said Phillips, who watched the ad on television during a Super Bowl party at the Corner Stone Apartments in Cary.
"Underdog" brought home $50,000 for the Frito-Lay ad competition and $600,000 for the second-place ranking in the USA Today Ad Meter.
The ad cost about $400 to make – "mostly for food and some treats for the dog," Svoboda said. It was filmed over three days in Cary's Bond Park.
Svoboda said he got the idea for the ad while hanging out in a friend's basement and watching his dog who had an anti-bark collar on.
"The idea kind of sprang from there, and we knew that we had an adorable puppy we could use," he said.
Oliver said that puppy, named Rosie, helped him make a realistic bark. "I had a good acting partner in Rose. She really inspired me with her terrifying bark," he said.
Svoboda said that film might be in the future for 5 Point Productions, which also had a second ad among the six finalists for the Frito-Lay competition and won that contest in 2007.
"The guys really have their pulse on what America wants to see, what people love to see," Oliver said.
Oliver said he hopes the ad's success leads to more opportunities for him, in front and behind cameras.
And for Rosie?
"Hopefully, Rosie will get some Doritos out of it," Oliver said.