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Is the Resurrection Funny? One Church Has a Super Bowl Bet on It

5 years ago
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Tim Tebow vs. ManCrunch has become the dominant Super Bowl story line in the run-up to Sunday's championship game. The decision by CBS to broadcast the pro-life story of Tebow's birth vs. the decision to bar ManCrunch's gay dating service spot (as the network has done with other gay-themed commercials) has been parsed many places, most ably here by my PD colleague Jeff Weiss.

But how about the Doritos ad that features a guy inside a closed casket filled with chips, watching the big game on a small TV -- all unbeknown to the tearful mourners sobbing at the high church funeral? The dude inside has faked his death to get off work, but when his ruse is discovered -- his excitement over a big play dumps him, the Doritos and the casket off the altar, to gasps -- his quick-thinking co-conspirator in the front pew jumps up and shouts, "Aaaah! It's a miracle!" Click play below to watch the ad:

Blasphemous? Here's the real kicker: The ad was produced by a Southern California mega-church hoping to take home up to $1 million in an ad contest sponsored by Frito-Lay -- not to mention the awesome buzz for the church, a 3,000-member congregation called Mosaic.

The ad, titled "Casket," is one of six finalists in the Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl challenge, and it is billed as "a lighthearted spoof that plays off the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

"We're not trying to use Doritos to propagate a message, but I think we want people to know that we have a sense of humor, that it's OK to laugh," Mosaic's lead pastor, Erwin McManus, tells the Associated Press. "So much of what comes out of the faith community seems so dour and somber and we want to say, 'Hey, we're real people. You can be a person of faith and really enjoy life and laugh.' "

Mosaic is described as a "hipster" church of twenty-somethings, many of whom work in the film industry. So it should be no surprise that the 30-second spot beat out more than 4,000 entries to make the finals, and that as of Wednesday it had recorded more than 104,000 views. That is a good bit more than any of the other five finalists, which had clocked between 74,000 and 85,000 views as of Wednesday.

Could the mega-church telegraph be sending "Casket" viral?

The top three vote-getters on the Frito-Lay site will have their spot aired during the Super Bowl, but none will know if they've made the final cut until the commercial airs. The creators of these top three ads will take home $1 million, $600,000 and $400,000, respectively, as well as get air time before an audience of some 100 million viewers, which would normally cost up to $2.8 million for half a minute.

Will it work? "Nobody's going to fall on their knees and accept Jesus as a result of this spot. But advertisers on Madison Avenue spend millions on a Super Bowl spot because they know it influences people," Phil Cooke, a Christian producer, filmmaker and author, tells the AP. "It might not get someone converted, but I think it will get someone to say, 'Maybe there is something I ought to investigate.' "

Or if you're like me, maybe you won't be able to get the image of being buried alive in Doritos out of your head -- or a lingering nacho cheese taste out of your mouth.

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