Learn from This: Cheetos Makes Goofing Off Pay Off

By Neil Glassman Comment

Game mechanics are a proven means for brands to initiate and maintain engagement with users. It’s become an essential social media strategy.

Using a newly available platform from Meebo, Cheetos snacks has launched a campaign, accented by its mischievous brand image, that adds discovery and social sharing to a game that’s played across the web, not on a specific social media platform.

Consumers compete in the Cheetos Billion Minute Break to become the greatest break-taker alive. Built on the Meebo Quest Platform, the campaign rewards participants for doing something they already enjoy — exploring the web — to increase awareness and engagement with a product that’s a perfect accompaniment for downtime.

To participate in the contest, consumers register on the Cheetos website and, if not already using it, download the Meebo MiniBar browser extension. From there, they “goof off” on the Cheetos site or check in with the Meebo MiniBar when visiting any of the about 100 selected Meebo partner sites across entertainment, humor, sports and other topics.

Participating in the game is justified by Cheetos based on research it cites that, “Shows workers stand to gain a nine percent increase in overall productivity just by spending a few minutes of their overly stressful days goofing off and surfing the Web.”

Active users have chance to achieve rankings, real-world trophies and up to 20 different badges. Top prize is a larger-than-life portrait of the winner made entirely of Cheetos snacks awarded to the person who has spent the most time checked in on participating sites when the contest hits a collective one billion minutes of time spent goofing off by its players.

Meebo’s Quests is an extension of its web check-in system that is designed to encourage exploration of partner sites through the activity of other, like-minded Meebo users. Each Quest has a dedicated page on Meebo.com with live updates and leader boards and provides a means of rewarding users as they travel across the Web. The first Quests are the one sponsored by Cheetos and another themed around the “Summer of Movies.”

Christina Menendez, Senior Director of Marketing of Cheetos parent company Frito-Lay, and Meebo Chief Revenue Officer Carter Brokaw responded to questions I posed on their respective strategies to help us understand what’s underneath the campaign.

How does this fit into your overall marketing objectives?

Cheetos: The Cheetos brand is all about bringing more fun to the lives of our consumers and encouraging them to lighten up and play more. We live in stressful times and we are always looking for opportunities to bring a little amusement to the table, and we believe the creation of the Cheetos Billion Break embodies that spirit and purpose perfectly.

What else are you doing to achieve these objectives, how does Meebo Quests fit into this?

Cheetos: The Cheetos Billion Minute Break fits in with our broader, ongoing Cheetos marketing program that includes traditional advertising, consumer engagement programs and digital marketing efforts that all revolve around messaging about taking a break with Cheetos.

How will you measure ROI?

Cheetos: We will look at number of things, including website traffic, brand performance and the amount of time tracked for the Billion Minute Break website.

What are the value propositions for Quests for brands/agencies? How else can Quests be used?

Meebo: Quest could work on any type of market because they are themed around particular interests, but they are designed to appeal to all types of audience. There is a huge opportunity for companies that want to find and reward their best users for coming back and engaging with their brands. Creating a more fluid dialogue with their customers at scale is what brands care about and this platform can help catalyze brand engagement in a meaningful way.

Cheetos has a strong, brand-centric and content-rich website. Purchased ads on the Meebo network of sites are used to promote the contest to those who are not site visitors. When I looked at the Cheetos Facebook Page today, I saw the break theme is promoted both stand-alone and using a tab to the contest.

This campaign does not push users to the Cheetos website of Facebook Page. Rather, through badges and the other Quest-presented Cheetos branding, it attempts to give each participant a virtual bag of snacks to accompany his or her break time.


Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, with a track record of success across linear, digital and social media. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.