A New Cheetos App Gets Cheesy at SXSW

Posted on by Patty Odell

Cheetos, one of the flagship brands from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, is marketing a new AI-enabled app that turns everything consumers see into Cheetos-inspired creations.

PepsiCo launched the app, Cheetos Vision, at SXSW 2018 using ads geo-targeting attendees at SXSW.

Cheetos Vision
An image of a Cheetos Vision.

An artificial intelligence-powered camera creates the images that users can then share on social media. Fans can also use the app to transform their profile photos into cheesy Cheetos creations. This is the first app for Cheetos.

Rachel Ferdinando, vice president of marketing for Cheetos, gives us the skinny on how this all came down.

CM: How are you marketing the app?
RF: We are conducting very targeted marketing of the app for those attending the SXSW interactive festival with a billboard showing what it’s like to have “Cheetos Vision.” We have also created digital content we’re currently posting on our Cheetos-owned social properties.

CM: How did the idea for the app come about?
RF: We constantly challenge our agencies to come to us with new and interesting ideas. This one came to us via Goodby Silverstein & Partners’ GS&P Labs.

CM: What was the process in designing and developing the app?
RF: Goodby Silverstein & Partners’ innovation group GS&P LABS built the entire app in house. Cheetos Vision is an AI style transfer app using software written by AI. Some AI apps learn in real time from the information you feed it and some are apps that are written by an AI program. In our case Cheetos Vision is a “style transfer” app created by an AI process known as deep learning. This involves a convolutional neural network “learning” Cheetos images using intense computation. We started with just still photos and were able to expand it to video for launch.

CM: How does this promotion fit into the overall marketing plan for Cheetos?
RF: For the past two years, we’ve created a program asking people what they see in their Cheetos. That resulted in people searching bags of Cheetos where they saw—much like seeing shapes in clouds, cats, lovebirds, manatees and more. The Cheetos Vision app flips this on its head a bit and now, instead of seeing things in your Cheetos, consumers can see everything in Cheetos.

CM: Over the last few years has mobile/social become a more important component of Cheetos marketing?
RF: Absolutely. Cheetos has a distinct voice in social—in the persona of Chester Cheetah. Chester is active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and it is a way for Cheetos to engage with our consumers in a fun and engaging way.

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