No. 41: Chee­tos’ hype ma­chine

Fast Company - - Contents -

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.

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