Doritos “Sling Baby” 2012 Super Bowl Ad


The ad that I chose to evaluate is the Doritos’ “Sling Baby” spot. This thirty second clip made its appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl. The commercial displays a grandmother figure babysitting two kids while they are outside. The older brother is on top of the slide taunting the grandmother and younger brother (the baby) about their lack of Doritos. To stop the boy from his taunts the grandmother pulls back the baby and “flings” him to the top of the slide in order to obtain the Doritos, only to be shot back safely into the arms of the grandmother. At the end of the ad, it shows the grandmother and the baby both holding a chip from the bag of Doritos with the most satisfied of expressions on each other’s faces.  Essentially, Doritos is using comedy to sell their chips to the demographic of anyone between the stages of birth and death. For this advertisement I would be looking at Burke’s work in identification and the pentad in order to make an evaluation.

This ad is eye catching. When the audience is shown a baby being flung through the air by his grandmother, the event is a pretty memorable one. Being that is in fact memorable, makes it an even better advertisement. In advertising, it is important that the audience can remember and differentiate your advertisement from the thousands of other ads they will see that same day. I also believe that Doritos has done a good job of including the shenanigans that take place between kids and brothers all over America. Being the oldest brother of three, I can account for many provoking and teasing shenanigans in my household.

Because the commercial is showing a typical middle class family, Doritos is identifying with its targeted market. Doritos has created this commercial identity that is saying Doritos are good for the entire family to enjoy. Our reading states that there are three different ways in which identification functions. The first function stats that identification is “used as a means to an end” and that is exactly what Doritos is doing here. They want their audience to see themselves in the position of the characters that are in the commercial and by adding comedy to the family situation it allows others to relate.

As discussed in class the five parts of the pentad include: act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. The act of this ad is to show that the Doritos product is a very desirable one. The scene takes place in backyard of this house. The grandmother and baby are the agents of the commercial, being that they are show the audience the purpose of the message. The purpose of the ad is to show that the Doritos chips are so desired that the grandmother is willing to risk the safety of, what is perceived as, her own grandchild. The agency is that this commercial is a comical family piece. Doritos uses family shenanigans and laughter to persuade the audience that these are the chips for your entire family from baby to grandma.

Burke’s talk of ratios between the pentad is an important aspect here. The Act:Agent ratio is going to be very important in an evaluation of this commercial because the agent(s) are providing the message of the act. When it comes to a food product like Doritos chips the agent is really going to have to sell the item because sense of taste differs from person to person. As the audience, hearing the older brother talk about how good the chips smell and seeing that its worth flinging a baby towards, than I must be worth going to the store for.

This ad makes good use of its humor but I feel that there are some aspects of the commercial that lacked persuasive elements. At the very least, there were aspects that could potentially turn the audience off the advertisement. The first turn off being that there is a baby flying through the air because the grandmother is physically incapable of walking. Even though this is for the sake comedy and obviously not real, skeptics will still linger. They might criticize that their children will try to fly through the air on contraptions similar to what is depicted in the commercial. Another turn off some may encounter is that the baby is holding a chip at the end. Many parents wouldn’t want their baby eating foods like Doritos so to glorify it and bring comedy to a snack food may make kids want the chips even more.

Overall, I think that this is a funny ad that will make millions of people want to hold true to these chips but I do see areas for skepticism. Though they made a solid choice of using family shenanigans, they could have found a better way to appeal to the gamut of their target audience. The shenanigans really helped them identify with the target audience and according to Burke this is a necessity in persuasion. This advertisement does not make me want to get up off the couch and buy Doritos but if I had never had them before I would definitely consider buying them.


– Phill Taner

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