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February 2, 2015

USC Alums’ Super Bowl Commercial Takes Grand Prize

By Katherine Vu

A team of SCA Alums has taken home the $1,000,000 grand prize in Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” Commercial Contest.

On a budget of only $2,000, Scott Zabielski, Genevieve Younce Zabielski, Chris McKinley, Andrew Huebscher, Jason Cochard, and Shelley LaRue managed to put together a polished commercial that rose to the top of nearly 4,900 competition entries across 29 countries. They learned about their win the same way millions of Americans across the US did: by seeing their commercial broadcast on TV during the Super Bowl.

The 30-second spot, Middle Seat, features a man attempting to divert passengers out of the middle seat in his airplane row, until an attractive woman comes down the aisle, at which point he pulls out a bag of Doritos. The ingenious plan backfires when it’s revealed that the woman is carrying a newborn baby.

“That is something that’s certainly happened to me, and a lot of my friends have said it’s happened to them too – where you’re sitting on the plane, you’re in that aisle seat, see people coming down the aisle and you hope nobody sits next to you,” said Director Scott Zabielski to news outlet, KTLA5. Zabielski also credits his real-life role as a new father as part of the inspiration for the commercial; in fact, the baby in the commercial is his newborn son.

In addition to the monetary prize, Zabielski will also receive a dream job at Universal Pictures.  In an interview with CNN Money, Zabielski said that he was still in shock from the event. "Something like this is so life changing that you can't process it in one moment."

Dave Horowitz and Nick Sivakumaran, the SCA duo behind Lemonade Stand, another entry in competition, also received a $25,000 for making it to the final 10. In 2011, a team led by alumni Tess Ortbals and JR Bruningham won the $1,000,000 prize.