Frito-Lay Kicks Off ‘Beat My Tailgate’

In an effort to expand sports tie-ins for its Tostitos brand, Frito-Lay today launched a contest inviting tortilla lovers to submit their tailgating stories online. Former NFL star Eddie George was tapped as the contest’s celebrity judge.  

“Beat My Tailgate,” which runs through November, asks consumers to share their pregame ritual via a photo and short description at Tostitos.com. George and a panel of Tostitos judges will select five finalists based on creativity, team pride, theme and presentation of ideas. Also in November, Frito-Lay will open up the polls to consumers online.

The winner and seven friends will receive a VIP tailgating experience and a trip to Glendale, Ariz., for the 38th annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 5, 2009. Tostitos has been a title sponsor of the college football game since 1996.

“The Tostitos brand continues to be about tapping into social occasions that naturally bring people together,” said Ann Mukherjee, group vp of marketing at Frito-Lay North America. “And with the brand’s strong association with college football, creating a fun program around tailgating makes perfect sense.”

Ron Paul, president of food industry research firm Technomic, Chicago, said although such promotions are short-lived, the celebrity awareness created among consumers allows marketers to break through the advertising clutter. Oftentimes ads are forgettable to consumers because they’re exposed to so many on a daily basis, but sports tie-ins are memorable through spokespeople or celebrity figures, Paul said.

He added, “If you think about Kellogg’s Wheaties, that’s one example of a company that believes in who they put on the box. It’s their overall marketing strategy. The more popular the sports figure, the more enthusiasm consumers have for the brand.”

Frito-Lay spent $47 million on U.S. advertising for Tostitos in 2007 and $26 million through June of this year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.