No. 41: Cheetos’ hype machine
Jennifer Saenz feeds customer enthusiasm for the company’s $14 billion snacks business.
Jennifer Saenz SVP and CMO, Frito-lay North America
For three days last August, Jennifer Saenz’s restaurant, the Spotted Cheetah, was the hottest bistro in New York City. The menu, designed by Food Network celebrity chef Anne Burrell, featured Mac n’ Cheetos, Flamin’ Hot Limon Chicken Tacos, Cheetos Meatballs, and more, attracting media and social attention worldwide. The pop-up is just one of several clever plays that Saenz, who oversees the marketing behind Frito-lay’s $14 billion snacks business, has generated in the past year for Cheetos alone. (In March, she released a Cheetos Vision app that makes everything look orange.) Saenz conceived the restaurant stunt after her team saw people on social media “using Cheetos in all kinds of recipes, whether it was pizza, bagels, or sushi,” she says. “Cheetos were finding their way into everything!” She broadened the restaurant idea so that people could participate anywhere, publishing an online cookbook with all the recipes. More than 30,000 people downloaded it. To advance the cultural moment, she signed a deal last December with Regal Cinemas to offer Cheetos popcorn at concession stands nationwide.