For his birthday, CeeLo Green — rapper, “singer,” and one of the team leaders on The Voice — got a portrait of himself and his cat Purrfect made out of Cheetos. Other celebs that have been immortalized in the orange snacks are Conan O’Brien and Rachael Ray, who unveiled her portrait on her show with a package about the artist Jason Baalman. Visitors to the Cheetos Facebook page can also enter their email address to win a chance to get their own Cheetos portrait.
Random no? Actually, according to Chris Kuechenmeister, a spokesperson for Frito-Lay and the Cheetos brand, this is all part of a master plan.
The idea of taking the fine art of portraiture and “turning the traditional approach on its head” is the Cheetos marketing sweet spot.
“The Cheetos brand is about having fun, being playful, and inserting a little mischief in life. We’re always looking for opportunities to live that out,” he told us over the phone. The brand doesn’t have a list of celebs in mind, so the portraits are happening as the opportunities present themselves.
According to Kuechenmeister, Ceelo “embodies what the brand is all about.” The fact that it was his birthday made the timing ideal.
Between the kooky mascot who stars in the kooky ads, the portraits, and the natural weirdness of eating a snack that turns your fingers orange, we wondered whether there’s a risk that the brand could get too gimmicky with its programs.
“When we do something that brings the brand to life in a unique way, the feedback is always positive. It’s not being received as gimmicky. It’s the brand being true to itself,” Kuechenmeister said.
He even used the word “authentic,” a pretty serious word to use with reference to pictures made out of cheese curls.
“Authenticity applies to any entity that’s looking to build a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. “It’s something that anyone can benefit from.”