Commercial Breakdown #6: Doritos 3D’s (featuring Sean Hayes and Ali Landry)

The late ‘90s were a weird time: The world was over run with terrible boy bands, yo-yos made a random comeback and Doritos were three-dimensional for whatever reason. To usher in a brave new world of three-dimensional chips, Doritos enlisted Sean Hayes and former Miss USA Ali Landry to star in their over-the-top new Super Bowl ad. It was one of the first in the brand’s now long-standing tradition of advertising during the Big Game.

When you watch the ad, you’ll find that it makes little to no sense. Landry catches the attention of Hayes and the random guy beside him. They then try to get her attention by doing tricks with a bag of Doritos. Landry takes a bag of Doritos 3D’s from Hayes (and whoever is next to Hayes), pours the bag into a dryer and the door swings wide open flinging Doritos aggressively across the laundromat, while Landry catches them in her mouth. Hayes has only one line… “Aye, chihuahua.”

The ad is probably more memorable than the chips itself. I vaguely remember having Doritos 3D’s as a kid, and perhaps the only reason why I remember them at all is because of this ad. Well, I was really young when they came out, too, so that probably didn’t help.

The Landry/Hayes Doritos ad was part of the brand’s Loudest Taste on Earth campaign, which stretched beyond Doritos 3D’s and covered the entire Doritos brand. The campaign was the result of an effort to market the brand to 16 to 21 year olds (or 12 to 17 year olds according to Adweek), a narrower market compared to previous campaigns like 1996/1997’s “Get a Life” that pushed Doritos to 12 to 34 year olds. The Loudest Taste on Earth campaign was themed around being free to be as loud as you wanted and was a change the brand made as brand awareness was slipping, even though sales were strong.

I came across some “Get A Life” era Doritos ads, and they were just as obnoxious and illogical as the Landry/Hayes ad above. The Get a Life ads came in and went like a hurricane. They threw a lot on the screen in a hurry and tried to show what life could be with and without Doritos (rather unsuccessfully in my opinion). Despite clearly being aimed at younger people, the Get a Life ads strangely enough often featured older people as their protagonists. Take a look at “Dream Team,” “Masseuse” and “Mashed Potatoes” to get an idea of what I’m talking about, and at least one of the Get a Life ads featured beavers, which I guess is a plus. I dunno.

The Loudest Taste ads did seem … better for a lack of a better word. They felt more polished, less random and just more intriguing.

In addition to the Doritos 3D’s ad, Landry did another Doritos ad for Smokey Red Barbecue Doritos, which was just as over the top as the 3D’s ad, for the Loudest Taste campaign. Some of Doritos’ other Loudest Taste ads took the slogan literally, like this 1998 ad with some guys driving an older man crazy or this one featuring a computer-generated Spicy Nacho Doritos bag. This ad simply called “Boy” launched the campaign. These ads are certainly not as memorable as the Landry ads, but they managed to keep the spirit of the really bold, fun and borderline obnoxious brand alive and well.

If you’re missing the Doritos Loudest Taste days and Doritos 3D’s, you just missed the boat as Doritos 3D’s made a brief comeback with the Doritos Jacked 3D chips, but they’re long gone again. They approached the 3D element a bit differently, but they’re probably the closest thing I’ve seen of the 3D brand being revived in the US and Canada. If it makes you feel any better, though, you can listen to Ali Landry reminisce about her old Doritos ads here.