February 1, 2011

Doneger Heads to Dallas to See if Super Bowl Commercial Was a Winner

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Former Johns Hopkins attackman Michael Doneger will watch the Super Bowl from a private suite at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, where he will learn if his "Elevator Girl" spot for Doritios/Pepsi Max was one of the top three vote-getters in a Super Bowl commercial contest. Watch it here.

Sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight to Dallas on Tuesday, former Johns Hopkins attackman Michael Doneger couldn't help but drop a lacrosse reference when explaining if he sensed his contest-submitted Super Bowl ad would air Sunday night during the most watched American television event of the year.

"It's not like I'm going out for a lacrosse game and have to score three goals," he said. "It's out of my control now."

Doneger -- a 2008 Johns Hopkins graduate, a writing seminars major and four-year lacrosse player -- wrote, directed, co-starred and submitted a 30-second commercial titled "Elevator Girl" to the Doritos/Pepsi Max Crash The Super Bowl Commercial Contest.

Of about 5,600 submissions, Doneger's -- featuring a series of awkward encounters with a girl in an elevator and a box of Pepsi Max in the final scene -- was selected as one of five Pepsi Max finalists. From there, Internet voting opened.

The top three vote-getters will air during Sunday's Super Bowl. Voting is now closed (Sorry, fans).

Doneger will learn with the other millions watching if his commercial made the cut. He was flown in from Los Angeles, where he lives, to Dallas on Tuesday and will watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Green Bay Packers from a private suite in the $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium. There will be televisions in the suite, and that's where Doneger will or will not see his creation during a break in the game. He insisted he's not nervous.

"I'm actually relieved," he said, from the burden of constantly sending out reminders to vote via email, Facebook and Twitter for the last month. "I'm just looking forward to getting to Dallas, seeing the stadium there and enjoying the week at the Super Bowl."

Since graduating from Hopkins in 2008, the Long Island native and New York Jets fan has lived in Los Angeles, where he's looking to develop a writing/directing career. He said this commercial only took a couple days to complete from start to finish and was one of the easier clips he's made in the last two years. He had a four-person crew, including himself and Jamie Zeluck, who co-stars and is the title character elevator girl.

"With these contests, it's sometimes easy to do and you're either selected or you're not," he said. "Luckily, I was one of the ones chosen from a couple thousand."

Doneger has wondered if the commercials aired during the Super Bowl will also be shown on the giant, center-hung, high-definition screen -- the world's largest -- that hangs from the roof the Cowboys Stadium. He doubts it, saying it would probably interrupt the experience for fans at the games, but admits he thought about how cool that would be.

"Who wouldn't want their commercial to be shown on the biggest screen in the world?" he said.

Doneger might just have to settle for millions of smaller screens. And there are other benefits: According to the contest rules, if any of the contest commercials that air rank in first place on the USA Today ad meter, the creator gets $1 million; if second, $600,000, and third, $400,000. The finalist with the highest scoring ad wins a contract to create a future commercial for Doritos and Pepsi Max.

Doneger was a reserve attackman on two national championship teams with the Blue Jays (2005 and 2007) and was a starter on Hopkins' 2008 national runner-up team.

Watch Doneger's ad here.

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