Minnesota's only team to make it to the Super Bowl, "technically unemployed" Minneapolis film makers and best friends Ben Krueger and Cole Koehler, got their 30 seconds of fame Sunday night, even though they didn't score the big payoff. Their "Snack Attack Samurai" Doritos commercial was seen on the most watched TV show on the planet, the Super Bowl.
They were among 4,063 film makers to enter the annual Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" challenge -- all hoping to have their commercial air during Sunday's Super Bowl telecast and maybe capture the grand prize.
Last year, a pair of unemployed brothers from Indiana received $1 million from Doritos for winning USA Today's fan vote for most popular commercial overall. And when "Snack Attack Samurai" aired late in the fourth quarter, just after Tracy Porter's 74-yard interception return for the Saints' final touchdown, the Minneapolis pair dared to keep their hopes alive. In the end, they finished 17th out of 63 ads, beating out commercials featuring Megan Fox, Johnny Depp and the Simpsons.
"We're thrilled," Krueger said as the game ended.
"We are totally shocked, surprised," added Koehler.
"A million dollars is a million dollars, but we'd be thrilled just to have our 30-second spot air during the Super Bowl," Krueger had said before kickoff.
They didn't win the big prize, but Krueger was looking for something else.
"We're hoping somebody will see this and give us some work," he said.
One million dollars would have bought a lot of Doritos. But so will the prize of at least $25,000 -- which Krueger, 32, and Koehler, 33, were guaranteed for being among the six finalists.
Their ad was filmed at the Uppercut Boxing Gym in northeast Minneapolis in four hours, using Minneapolis actors and friends. It cost less than $1,000.
"Technically, we're unemployed -- although Ben is the lead singer in Action Versus Action, a Minneapolis pop rock group," said Koehler.
The suspense mounts
As the game began, they still had no idea what the outcome of their personal Super Bowl would be. The tension Sunday afternoon could be felt from the stadium suite in Miami, where Krueger and Koehler watched the game in person, to the Barfly nightclub in downtown Minneapolis, where fans watched on a big screen. They were there for Mike Rylander, the actor who is hit in the neck by a flying Dorito in the commercial. "It's exciting," said Rylander, whose parents drove seven hours from Minot. N.D., to watch.
Krueger, a newlywed, submitted "Snack Attack Samurai." When told he could bring just one person with him to Miami, he thanked his wife, Janet, for taking care of their dog while he's gone and told Koehler to pack for the Super Bowl.
Meeting some heavyweights
The two have been nearly inseparable since meeting at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Krueger grew up in Eden Prairie and graduated from Minnetonka High School. Koehler, who acts in the ad, was living in Nebraska after graduating from the University of Nebraska.
"I googled 'cheapest film school,' and MCTC came up," Koehler said.
Now they're nearly rubbing shoulders with celebrities. Koehler spotted former heavyweight champion Evander Hollyfield the other night.
"Last night Ben and I got on the elevator and this big man got on and I'm thinking he looks like he's kind of an athlete," Koehler said. "I said, 'Are you here for the Super Bowl?'"
"I'm in the Super Bowl," the man responded.
It was Saints star wide receiver Robert Meachem.
"I can't believe this is happening to us," Koehler said.
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419