Cheetos’ Super Bowl ad embeds stealth Snapchat codes that unlock free snacks

Dive Brief:

  • Cheetos embedded stealth Snapchat codes into its Super Bowl spot that unlock free snacks when scanned, per details emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • Each of the commercial’s 1,440 frames features a hidden marker so viewers don’t have to pause the ad or direct their smartphone camera at a particular point of the screen. Once the ad is scanned, Snapchat will send users a virtual bag of Cheetos’ new Crunch Pop Mix that can be redeemed for the real product.
  • With the pandemic expected to push more homebound folks to social media during the big game, Cheetos sees an opportunity to tie product sampling into the campaign promoting Crunch Pop Mix to a broader audience.

Dive Insight:

Cheetos is attempting to take advantage of second-screen viewing habits during an unusual Super Bowl through its “Snap to Steal” activation, a first-to-market use of Snapchat’s scanning technology.

Social media engagement is typically high around the big game, but the pandemic has seen the popularity of apps like Snapchat spike as people look to stay connected and share their thoughts during live events. Sixty-one percent of surveyed Snapchat users plan to tune into the match-up between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, with nearly two-thirds intending to use the app on game day, according to internal Snap data.

Other snack brands have layered similar mobile components into their Super Bowl buys in recent years. Pringles in 2019 ran an interactive livestreaming ad that featured a QR code viewers could scan to connect to the Kellogg label’s Amazon storefront. Cheetos’ approach this year is noteworthy in being virtually markerless, meaning that Snapchat users can scan anywhere on the ad at any time to access their Crunch Pop Mix reward.

Removing a layer of user friction and the visual obtrusiveness of actual codes on screen could lead more mobile consumers to adopt the scannable technology. QR codes have experienced something of a second wind during the pandemic as a low-contact means for consumers and businesses to interact. Access to Cheetos’ snapcodes will be limited to when the commercial airs live during the game’s third quarter and all day Sunday on the YouTube version of the spot.

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The idea of “stealing” from the ad ties into broader themes Cheetos is pushing with its Super Bowl campaign. The 60-second spot stars real-life celebrity couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher as Kutcher accuses his wife of eating his Cheetos. Kunis repeatedly pleads “It Wasn’t Me,” a reference to the 2001 hit single by Shaggy, who initially appears in the ad as her counsel and later updates his song with a verse unique to the creative.

Cheetos will give away 100,000 bags of Crunch Pop Mix, a blend of Cheetos Popcorn and Cheetos Crunchy variants, as part of “Snap to Steal.” The brand is running other mobile-minded activations promoting the product that debuted last month, which ties into a larger master brand campaign called “It’s a Cheetos Thing.”

An out-of-home ad in Brooklyn, New York, features a QR code that can be scanned to win a free bag of Crunch Pop Mix through Feb. 7. During the big game, Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah will tweet every time there is a turnover to give followers the chance to win brand swag. Following the Super Bowl, Cheetos will encourage TikTok creators to produce and share their own interpretations of its big game ad, according to a press release.

The snack category has performed well during the pandemic as people pantry-load and gravitate toward comfort food. Cheetos’ parent Frito-Lay has moved quickly on these trends through new product innovations and direct-to-consumer offerings, including a Snacks.com site that launched last spring.

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