“Wherever there’s Tostitos, there’s a party”: That’s the slogan of the Frito-Lay snack food, one that it has reinforced every year since 1995 with its sponsorship of the Fiesta Bowl. But in 2012, to celebrate the thousand of troops coming home from duty overseas, Tostitos decided to make its Fiesta Bowl gala even more festive.
Working with The Marketing Arm, Tostitos partnered with two nonprofit organizations: the Pat Tillman Foundation, which supports educational opportunities for veterans and their families, and Got Your 6, which helps returning veterans integrate back into civilian life. With the two organizations, it invited more than two-dozen vets to play in a charity football game, and to bring their families along.
Rather than playing in an out-of-the way field, the veterans were surprised to find themselves transported to the 12,000-seat football stadium of Cerritos College outside L.A., which had been decorated to look like a real bowl game. More surprises followed. Legendary college coaches Bobby Bowden and Urban Meyer and equally legendary players Kurt Warner and Marcus Allen were brought along as well. ESPN announcers Neil Everett and Marcellus Wiley were in the press box to call the game, and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet and ESPN’s Samantha Steele were on the sidelines to interview the players. Just before kickoff, it was announced that film star Owen Wilson would be joining the veterans on the field, and after the game there was a concert featuring Gym Class Heroes. The entire event was filmed and edited into a halftime special that aired during the ESPN broadcast of the Fiesta Bowl.
The event generated more than 2,700 stories across TV, radio, print, and online media. The nearly 600 tweets and Facebook posts that resulted reached more than 1.5 million people, and the more than 30 videos loaded onto YouTube have been viewed more than 17,000 times. In all, the event generated 1.16 billion impressions, an ad value of more than $24 million. And the veterans and their families were thrown a party they’ll never forget.