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John Lamb, Published January 08 2009

Fargo man has hand in Doritos ad

The Doritos ad you see during Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1 may have a Fargo flavor.

Matt Charpentier and his production group, the Dandy Dwarves, are among five groups vying for the coveted commercial slot.

For the past few Super Bowls, Doritos has invited the public to submit ads for its high-profile spot. While the Dandy Dwarves have entered similar contests, this is a first for the small group.

“We just constantly enter contests and festivals. Basically, anything we can tackle, we enter, because we’re just trying to get noticed,” said Charpentier, a Fargo-based designer and filmmaker.

If their spot gets picked, they’ll get a lot of attention. All five selected entries are available for viewing at www.crashthesuperbowl.com. Viewers can vote for their favorite once a day through Jan. 25 and get a chance to win a pair of tickets to the big game in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Two representatives from each ad get tickets to the game on Feb. 1, when the winner will be announced. Charpentier won’t be attending.

“In all of our opinions, we’ve kind of already won because we are in the top five,” Charpentier said, referring to his Dandy colleagues. “That made the whole project worth it.”

The Dwarves formed in 2005 when Charpentier and the two other principles, Josh Lind and Andrew Cook, attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Lind and Cook run the office in California and Charpentier handles online elements such as promotion and publicity from Fargo.

With a small company’s budget, he wasn’t able to fly out for the November shoot in San Jose, Calif., but he helped plan it and remained in contact over the phone and Internet.

He says the other four ads are all “very well done,” which pleases him that the contest is so strong.

The Dwarves’ spot, “Too Delicious,” takes place in the meeting room of an office. As someone drones on, a Doogie Howser-looking guy is persuaded to take a chip from the “Doritos tree,” a bonsai bush that sprouts chips. After enjoying the first bite, he discovers they are indeed “too delicious” as he explodes in a puff of smoke.

Despite the office scene, a setting used in two other spots, the Dwarves’ offering stands out as family-friendly by contrast. Well, except for the spontaneous combustion.

“Exactly! That’s how our production team is,” Charpentier explains. “We don’t do cuss words. We don’t do sex jokes. It’s kinda like being the Will Smith of rap music.”

As he points out, the others go low for gag laughs. One features an ad man proposing beer-flavored Doritos while snacking on them. With each chip equaling a drink, he ends up in his underwear, drunk and yelling. Another one shows a man who realizes every bite either strips a woman of her clothes or causes a cash machine to spit money. And of course, there’s the shot to the groin.

Voters can leave comments for each spot and some take issue with themes of drinking, violence and sexuality.

You have to wonder why such easily offended folks would even watch the Super Bowl. There’s not a commercial break that doesn’t use sex to sell a product, often beer.

Still, comments for “Too Delicious” were almost all positive.

“It’s quirky and fun and I think it’s a piece we’ll be proud of for a long time,” Charpentier said.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533 or jlamb@forumcomm.com